Thursday, 5 May 2011

Capacity Building

As a leader, how do you build the necessary capacity in your staff to meet the demands of the work that needs to be done?

Two key principles should permeate your capacity-building work:

1. Minimize blame and focus on improvement.  If people fear blame, there will be less transparency and less insight into the root causes of problems, which will inhibit capacity-building.  Instead, build a culture in which struggles or challenges are viewed as opportunities to learn and further improve delivery.  It is important to communicate that people are being judged in order to strengthen performance and not for the sake of laying blame.  In practice, a culture of no blame needs to exist alongside a culture of taking responsibility, so plain speaking and honesty will be crucial.  As Michael Fullan (2008) explains in his book The Six Secrets of Change, "This doesn't mean that you avoid identifying things as effective or ineffective.  Rather it means that you do not do so pejoratively."

2. Create a culture of continuous learning.  To truly sustain the capacity to implement change, all system actors responsible for delivery must be constantly going through the cycle of acting, reflecting, making adjustments, and trying again, each time refocusing their efforts on the actions that are found to be most effective.  In this culture, all contributors to delivery are constantly increasing their effectiveness.  As Michael Fullan (2008) put it, "Learning on the job, day after day, is the work".

From: Deliverology 101 by Michael Barber
Published by: Corwin Press, EDI - U.S. Education Delivery Institute, OPC - Ontario Principals' Council


  1. I would even change the first principle from "Minimize blame and focus on improvement" to "No blame and focus on improvement"

    I don't beleieve anyone makes mistake intentionally. Blame further destroys confidence of that individual which defeats the whole idea of capacity building. Blame builds frustration especially for the person that is doing the blaming, it destroys relationships. Blame ties us to past and does not allow for improvement.

    Instead of blame, as leaders, let us focus on improvmenet.

  2. I absolutely agree. Blame does not build capacity or sustain professional relationships and connections. As well, it tends to keep people bound to the pask. If we want to create an environment of continous growth and learning we need to be reflective in our practices and in the discussions we have as a professional community of leaders and educators.