Education leaders such as George Couros and Stephen Harris are always seeking ideas and examples from beyond the education arena to develop and strengthen learning and leadership in schools. I think there are many lessons to be learnt from corporations as they continually reflect upon what contributed to their success or their failure.
I am not suggesting in any means that schools should fashion themselves entirely on a business model – our core business is kids, not making a profit, but I do think the more that business looks at building success on the basis of developing relationships and connection, the more we can learn from their change journeys.
This morning I read this article by Alexa Clay – “5 Tips for Growing Changemaking Communities in Your Company“. Clay puts forth the importance of building an entourage which she describes as;
“people who bring you energy and ‘get it’ Your entourage is what gets you through the darker times and plays a much needed role in keeping you going when things appear stuck”
Clay says the following in which I have added the alternative (schools) or (classrooms) substitute:
And corporations (schools) aren’t merely collections of individuals. Corporations (schools) are communities. Behind every business (school) is an environment where people are looking to find connection, fulfillment, and identity. And yet, within and across cubicles (classrooms), it can be so hard to connect on a human level. So how do we bust through? How do we generate communities to really unleash game-changing innovation within big corporations (schools)? And how do we grow our entourages into truly powerful networks of change.
For each of the 5 tips Clay suggests to move towards developing changemaking communities I have included a ‘school’ alternative.
1. Visualise your relationships
Company model: …. go beyond the usual suspects and think about organizations or communities you might never engage with …Map out these actors and understand their competencies and points of leverage within the system. Then spot areas where a shared agenda could emerge.
School model: there may be people in your school that have a passion or interest in what you’re trying to achieve. Don’t assume it will always be the same people who put their hand up for everything, develop opportunities for support staff, parents, families, ex students and others to be involved in what you’re trying to achieve.
2. Find your counterparts
Company model: …make sure that you connect with like-minded intrapreneurs within these organizations. Systemic collaborations require an enterprising spirit to be ignited and sustained. So find the right allies in other organizations that you can rely and depend on to accelerate these types of initiatives. You’ll save time and energy by working with others who share the same mindset as you.
School model: Connect with people who share your passions both in and beyond (local or global) your school. Develop a network of educators on the same journey and share and build from each other. Utilise #twitter , google+ or other ways to connect and share and forge the development of your community.
3. Practice code-switching
Company model: Be able to shift how you communicate, depending on your audience–know the right language to use depending on your stakeholder. Part of building community has to do with knowing how to translate your prerogative into the language of others.
School model: depending on whether you are engaging with your allies, leadership or those whom may be resistant, your communication will need to change. No point going full blown excitement on a peer that is reluctant to change anything at all, save that for your ‘counterparts’
4. Foster a subculture
Company model: …at times, it might feel like the culture you’re trying to create is not reconcilable with the culture of your organisation. Ask yourself what is the delta behind the culture that is and the culture that you are trying to create. And the delta should be fairly small. Most people don’t like massive change.
School model: Change is hard! Start by developing a small culture which you can cultivate and grow eventually infiltrating the rest of the school.
5. De-couple your entourage and your ego
Company model: Communities don’t revolve around one person. Nor should the success of an idea or innovation be dependent on one person. To be successful you need to be able to democratize ownership of your ideas. Beware of isolating yourself with a community of enablers. Get the “scary people” within your organization or from the outside to champion your work. They are key in getting your ideas to scale.
School model: Make sure there are people within your community who are willing to question and challenge ideas (critical friends). Success will be measured not by what you envision on your own, but by what is owned within a vision.
“most game-changing ideas are 10% epiphany and 90% relationships and community building….People don’t just lean in to ideas; they lean in to communities where they can discover purpose and meaning.”