What I’ve Learned This Year – 2014

As is the annual tradition, this week’s Marketing Matter shares what I’ve learned this year.  As professional educators, we’re all called to be life-long learners.  There’s plentiful material on the Internet, from full-blown courses to Webinars, and there are those things called books that are still published to promote frameworks suggested by individuals who are deemed successful in their fields of expertise.  Interestingly, as you may have experienced, the information available can conflict with other ideas that have been long-standing traditional approaches, and some new ideas conflict with other new ideas.  That’s the goal of the learner – to take all those ideas, and in a spirit of discernment, determine if the material presented is valid, invalid, or can be assimilated with current cognitive constructs to create new knowledge.

1) Be the Architect.  Is innovation important?  Yes, but may not be necessary when you’re looking for immediate improvement, since innovations have a long adoption timeline.  It’s important to get input from the experts at the school, so that when a solution is being built, the “change” is marketed as a “shift,” since a “shift” is perceived as a small adjustment, while “change” has a “macro” connotation associated with it.

2) The teacher is the challenger, the disruptor, the agent of chaos, if you will.  It is the teacher that breaks through the status quo mindset of the student by offering new information (cognitive) in an exciting (affective) manner.  Information (the “what”) may not be exciting, but “how” it’s conveyed can be.

3) A quote from Jack Dixon reminds us, “Don’t focus on results; focus on the change.  If you focus on the results, change will not occur.  If you focus on the change, results will follow.”  This is especially interesting at this time of year as we make new year’s resolutions, and explains why many of them fade away only after a few weeks.  If the goal is to lose 10 pounds, we need to focus on the process we’ve created to do that, and check and adjust our practices as necessary.  Simply focusing on the results can bring frustration in how long it takes to get to a certain point.

4) Innovative solutions don’t necessarily come from within the same industry/vertical, but continuous improvement does.  Unfortunately, continuous improvement does not equal transformative innovation.  Notice how this seems to contradict item #1, but upon further examination, it doesn’t.  It just requires that everyone “Get on the bus” at the same time, rather than relying on early adopters to be the evangelists for the rest of the individuals involved.

5) The phrase “Get everyone on the bus” comes from Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” (see www.jimcollins.com).  Actually, according to Collins, the first step to transformation involves getting the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus, as well as getting the right people into the right seats on the bus.   In Collins’ analysis, he recommends to focus on “who,” then “what,” since great people build a great organization.  Simon Sinek offers a different approach, as he advocates to “Start With Why” (the title of his book), then focus on “how,” and then only “what.”  There’s still an element missing – which is “where.”  Therefore, in my role as “The Architect,” I’ve learned to start with “where,” as in, “Where do you want your organization to be five years from now?”  Only then can one focus on the “who,” then “why,” then “how,” then “what.”  Notice that the only element that’s missing is “when” (which relates to items 1 and 3).  The “when” needs to be able to change, based on prioritization and circumstance.  We think we’re in control of time – but we’re not.  It’s a matter of Kairos – “God’s time.”

May 2015 be a year of peace and prosperity for your and yours!