Friday, 30 September 2011

How do you bring coherence?

As a leader, how do you bring coherence to the work of your school/organization?  There are few things that reduce effectiveness in the workplace more than a staff that doesn't see the connections among the various initiatives in which they are engaged.  When staff members feel that they are engaged in multiple 'important' initiatives but they don't see how each fits together and serves the greater purpose of their work, they can become cynical, jaded, or simply lost.  When people understand how all the work in which they take part fits together to serve the greater goals of the school/organization, they understand the value of their hour-to-hour, day-to-day, week-to-week work.  It's a minor investment in time - and a small investment in a well conceived discussion process - to provide everyone with the understanding they need to see how their work is important and fits into the bigger picture.  You run the risk of losing people's hard work and commitment when they feel pulled in many directions and don't see coherence in their work.


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  2. This post makes me think about our current process of trying to develop this year’s school improvement plan. Our Leadership Team is trying to develop SMART Goals in terms of literacy and numeracy and school culture and pathways and….. everything. Our ‘potential’ lack of coherence may be a result of simply trying to do too much!!! David Perkins talked about the impact of this type of over-planning in his book Smart Schools (1992):

    “The everything agenda is an ‘energy vampire’ that sucks all of our energy and serves to leave us tired and frustrated because we can never fully accomplish what we hope to do. Plans that are limited in scope enable staff to focus on a few really important things that will make a difference for students.”

    I wonder whether this work of explaining how everything fits into the bigger picture is sometimes necessitated by having too many goals. It is interesting that current Ministry of Education school-planning documents make reference to this passage from Perkins.

    Another possibility may be that staff don’t have a sense of ownership; they are not always involved in the process of developing SMART Goals, and therefore, don’t really know and/or care how initiatives/goals fit together. Without being involved in the planning process, a Grade 1 or Grade 2 teacher is likely more interested in the needs of the 20 six-year-olds sitting in from of her, rather than some set of SMART goals developed to be ‘aligned’ with the Board’s improvement plan, and the Trustees’ Multi-Year Strategic Plan.