December 04, 2013
As we all know, change can be difficult and incredibly complex. In continuing my professional reading in the area of leading educational change, I just completed the book, Change By Design, written by Tim Brown. Although this book is geared primarily toward business, there were several “take-aways” that apply to education as well. In his book, Brown offers many strategies that can set any organization up for building and encouraging change through innovation. In the following paragraphs I have provided some highlights of two key leadership applications from the book.
Leadership Application: Using observation and empathy to gain insight into actual needs and develop a better design.
Humans are so skilled at adapting to inconvenient situations it is sometimes difficult to determine needs. In order to meet this challenge, a design thinker must find out what needs people may not even know they have. Author, Tim Brown suggests three essential, human elements for any successful design project.
Learning from the experiences of others
Watching their behavior for clues
This can reveal more insight into a problem than crunching hard data
It is about being keen in seeing the whole picture
Watching what people don’t do, or listening to what they don’t say
Tim Brown - “Good design thinkers observe. Great design thinkers observe the ordinary.”
Questioning everyday occurrences or situations with “why?” will help you to discover what may be hidden
Walking in the shoes of others and experiencing for ourselves, we can better understand what others are experiencing and feeling
To understand a design is to understand how the people act and feel in relationship to the design
Leadership Learning: The divergent process of creating choices is futile if we do not move to the convergent phase of making choices.
It is of great value to encourage group generation of ideas. The key is incorporating both divergent and convergent thinking. Brainstorming for the sake of brainstorming is often ineffective and causes frustration. Brown advises the following guidelines in leading an organizational process from divergent to convergent thinking.
To have a good idea you must first have many ideas
Ideas should not be favored based on who came up with them
This process is not just a suggestion box, but instead methodical experimentation of ideas
Utilize a formal process to get consensus and move the best ideas forward
Levels 1, 2, and 3 of this hierarchial model are foundational. Dr. Marzano explains that the highest levels of effectiveness can be attained by achieving Level 5, however, schools that successfully accomplish Levels 1-3 would be significantly ahead of the game. The leading indicators described in the white paper prioritize key areas that are helpful as schools assess and monitor their success toward goals. The lagging indicators detail the evidence of high reliability status.
This research-based hierarchial approach and the identification of effectiveness indicators indeed provide a more concrete framework for systems thinking, change, and school reform. Even with the best intentions, schools often piecemeal their improvement initiatives and are not successful overall due to their inability to plan and coordinate their efforts systematically. There has not been a framework or “blue print” per se for this type of school reform. Dr. Marzano’s work described in the white paper has become the basis for his newest book to be released in the next few months. I am looking forward to reading the new book and utilize it in our work with administrators to strategically plan and support this high reliability perspective through professional development.
-by Kelly Clapp, Professional Development Coordinator
Marzano, R. (2013). Becoming a High Reliability School: The Next Step in School Reform. Centennial, CO: Marzano Research Laboratory.