Category: Leadership

Notes from “This much I know about Love over fear…”

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One of the many books that I read over the summer holidays is this book by John Tomsett. This is one of the best books that I have read on the field of education ever.

You need to know your core purpose – what is it that gets you out of bed each day to come to work? Schools should be re-structured to accommodate their core purpose; and that core purpose should guide every difficult decision. For example Hutchinson School’s core purpose is “to inspire confident leaners who will thrive in a changing world’.

“Target your resources on what matters most and just make do with everything else. Teaching is the thing that makes most difference to children’s academic performance so invest high quality continuing professional development CPD – train people to be good teachers.”

“In order to stay focused on professional development we need to stop worrying about things we cannot control and focus upon what we can do something about – our own practice. The only way to develop truly great schools is through each one of us taking responsibility for improving he quality of our teaching. We need to break the glass ceiling which surrounds great teaching so that we all aspire to it and see it is achievable. We need to foster a growth culture which is founded on the belief that all of us can improve.”

In the book John Tomsett quotes Professor Chris Husbands:

“We can all teach well and we can all teach badly.  Even good teachers teach some lessons and some groups less well; even the struggling teacher can teach a successful lesson on occasion. More generally, we can all teach better: teaching changes and develops. Skills improve. Ideas change. Practice alters. It’s teaching, not teachers.”

Taken from: https://ioelondonblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/great-teachers-or-great-teaching-why-mckinsey-got-it-wrong/

Another key quote, this time by Tomsett is:

“The one thing that destroys the energy of a workplace culture is a climate of fear. Conversely, people’s energies are maximised when they feel loved and safe. Love wins over fear every time. Ron Berger has never been so right when he says ‘Culture Matters”

Tomsett also quotes Roland Barth when talking about school culture:

To change a school’s culture requires mustering the courage and skill to not remain victimised by the toxic elements of the school’s culture but rather to address them.”

Some other notes that I took from the book:

  • Every teacher fails on a daily basis. If you are not failing you are just not paying attention. Because we fail all the time.
  • In building a classroom culture, I have based my whole career upon a line from Virgil, ‘Success nourishes them: they can because they think they can’ [when working with a difficult group Tomsett stated], I never, ever ,ever, ever diverged publicly from believing that every single one of them would get a minimum of a grade C.
  • When teaching hard classes, laugh with them and let them laugh at you. Trust them. Choose your moment and use the phrase, ‘I’m going to rust you to do this,’ looking directly into their eyes. On some things you have to compromise. I know it encourages learnt helplessness, but just buy a stack of biros and don’t get precious if you lose a load.
  • When giving explanations, pare down what you are explaining, have more than one way to explain something, and try to use subject specific vocabulary in your explanations.

Tomsett also gives some strategies to make time:

  • You have to privilege the time for teachers to work on their teaching if you want to grow a truly great school.
  • Beware of asking colleagues to do anything which impinges on their time without it being to their benefit.
  • Work in twenty-five-minute chunks and use the Pomodoro Technique.
  • Cut corners if you have to – sometimes just good enough is good enough.
  • Some things won’t get done. Period.

There is also a section about the things that are needed in order for teaching to become an evidence-based profession; creating structures in schools where classroom teachers:

  • Work in an environment where continual improvement is the cultural norm.
  • Can access good evidence easily.
  • Feel encouraged and safe to change their practice in the light of the evidence.
  • Are supported by a school-based research lead with a higher education connection.
  • Can evaluate the impact on student outcomes of the changes to their pedagogy.

The final take away from this book is this quote:

“The bottom line is that to be any good at teaching it has to matter to you, properly, right there in your chest.”

Get this book on Amazon here.

Notes from ‘Differentiated Coaching’

I read this book about six months ago and have just got round to typing up my notes; I found it less to be about coaching per say; and more how to use coaching and the pre-conditions needed for coaching to succeed.

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Six key steps for using coaching for effective staff development:

  1. Use a common framework for unbiased reflection on education.
  2. Understanding the strengths and beliefs of the teachers, instead of relying on our own ingrained beliefs of why teachers resist change.
  3. Provide information and evidence to influence teacher’s beliefs about how students learn.
  4. Meet the needs of individual teachers, often through coaching; however not all teachers would want a coach in their classroom for a significant amount of time.
  5. Focus on the problems teachers want to solve.
  6. Encourage deep, reflective collaboration.

A quote from Michael Fullan summarises what school reformers have learnt over past decades:

“The hardest core to crack is the learning core – changes in instructional practices and in the culture  of teaching towards greater collaborative relationships among students, teachers and other potential partners. Stated differently, to restructure is not to reculture – a lesson increasingly echoed in other attempts at reform. Changing formal structures is not the same as changing norms, habits, skills and beliefs.”

Pre-observation conferences are necessary to discuss:

  • Build trust.
  • Clarify the lesson goals and objectives.
  • Seek the coached input on what should be observed.
  • Help the coached clarify how they think the lesson would work.

Coaches often help teachers understand the benefits of practitioner research. Many teachers  seem to suffer from “research anxiety” stemming from several causes such as:

  • It will be too time consuming – a coach can help reframe action research as a part of a normal part of looking at student work.
  • I won’t discover anything useful – a coach can help a teacher identify the questions he or she wants answered and why other teachers might be interested as well.
  • I ‘m not a researcher – a coach can help tailor a research effort to match a teacher’s strength.
  • I don’t know what to measure or how to measure. – A coach can point out useful data besides assessment data.

Coaches can take on several roles, including:

  • Helping teachers select and define a problem that (a) interests them, (b) is within their realm of influence, and (c) involves measurable outcomes.
  • Brainstorm solution sets.
  • Providing guidance in selecting options.
  • Working with teachers, and helping teachers get beyond their habitual beliefs.

What gets in the way of teacher collaboration:

  • A culture of silence – that discourages teachers from talking about their classrooms; teachers are  afraid of being viewed as incompetent, or of being censured for questioning conventional wisdom.
  • Teachers as individual entrepreneurs or executives. Executives do not take kindly to others’ critique of their methods, decisions, or demeanour. Teachers reign in there individual classrooms and therefore take on executive characteristics.
  • Teaching as creative expression – a common theme is teaching can’t be taught; each teacher discovers his or her own norm of practice.
  • Bias towards noninterference.
  • Lack of common goals and meaning.
  • Intensifying work.

What is required for collaboration:

  • Time for reflective discussion.
  • A common framework for discussion teaching and learning.
  • Trust, respect, and honesty.
  • A willingness to probe one’s own beliefs and acknowledge boundaries of one’s experience.
  • Articulated goals to measure effectiveness.
  • If these are not present, a coach’s role is to help a team develop them.

A framework for authentic school change:

  1. A deep understanding of teachers’ strengths and beliefs.
  2. Concrete evidence that influence beliefs and shows that change will be worth the effort.
  3. Communication and assistance (coaching) in ways that meet each teacher’s learning style and needs.
  4. A focus on problems that concern the teachers.
  5. Deep collaboration.
  6. A common framework for unbiased discussion of education.

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.- Buckminster Fuller

Notes from ‘The Energy Bus’

“Every morning you have a choice. Are you going to be a positive thinker or a negative thinker? Positive thinking will energise you.”

energy busThis book is a short book that presents a philosophy on life that is essentially, remain positive, and surround yourself by positive people. The message is given through the story of a man called George. The author explains what he means by positive energy. “No one goes through life untested, and the answer to these tests is positive energy – not the rah-rah, cheering kind of positive energy… But when I talk about positive energy I’m referring to the optimism, trust, enthusiasm, love , purpose, joy, passion, and spirit to live, work, and perform at a higher level; to build and lead successful teams; to overcome adversity in life and at work; to share contagious energy with employees, colleagues, and customers; to bering out the best in others and in-yourself; and to overcome all the negative people and negative situations”.

The story equips the reader with a list of 10 rules ‘for ride of your life’:

  1. You’re the driver of your bus. – If you don’t take responsibility for your life and control of your bus then you can’t take it where you want to go. If you’re not the driver, then you’ll always be at the whim of everyone else’s travel plans.
  2. Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction.
  3. Fuel your bus with positive energy.
  4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead.
  5. Don’t waste your energy on those who don’t get on your bus – if people don’t get on ou bus just let them sit at the station as you drive on by.
  6. Post a sign that says NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED on your bus. – E-motion stands for energy in motion and your emotional state is all about how the energy is flowing through you. So instead of letting negative emotions take you down a dark road of negativity, sadness, and despair we can take control of our emotions, charge ourselves up, and let the positive energy flow.
  7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energises them during the ride.
  8. Love your passengers.
  9. Drive with purpose.
  10. Have fun and enjoy the ride.

The author has this to say about complaining: When you complain you get more things to complaining. I don’t allow complaining because if you are complaining you cant be thinking about or creating what you do want. Plus complaining also ruins everyone else’s ride. Stop thinking about what you don’t want and start focusing your energy on your vision and what you do want.

As part of ‘being the driver of your own bus the author suggests you answer the following questions:

  • My vision for my life (including my health) is…
  • My vision for my work, career, job, and team is…
  • My vision for my relationship and family is…

The author expands on rule 8 (love your passengers); and gives five ways to ‘love your passengers;:

  1. Make time for them.
  2. Listen to them.
  3. Recognise them.
  4. Serve them.
  5. Bring out the best in them.

Energy Bus

 

One of the key takeaway quotes for me was:

“Your success and life are so important that you must surround yourself with a positive support team. No one creates success in a vacuum and the people we surround ourselves with have a big influence on the life and success we create. If you want to be successful you have to to be very careful about who is on your bus. After all there are people who increase your energy and there are people who drain your energy.”

The author has a website here.

The book can be purchased from amazon via the link below:

Notes from ‘Who’ by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

As a middle manager in a inner city school one of the activities I spend part of my time is the recruiting of new teachers. In the last academic year we had to recruit six new teachers for my faculty, and for some of those posts we did not appoint on the first time round. In addition if the wrong person is appointed; this will create additional work, and potentially have a negative impact on educational outcomes.

I saw this book on Amazon and thought it would be worth a read.

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“The most important decisions that businesspeople make are not what decisions, but who decisions.”

– Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great

  • The book opens by explaining the problems of finding the right people, and quotes The Economist in 2006 stating that “finding the right people is the single biggest problem in business today”.
  • The author states that the hiring process is something that has resisted an orderly approach; this is in a culture that every other management process has been studied and codified.
  • The first thing that is needed is a ‘scorecard: a blueprint for success’; it is important to consider what is needed in the individual that is being hired. What specialisms, skills, and other needs are best suited for the roles. Don’t hire the generalist, hire the specialist.
  • When creating a scorecard consider the following things:
    1. Mistion
    2. Outcomes
    3. Competencies
    4. Ensure Alignment and Communicate
  • There is a list of critical competencies that should be looked for in ‘a players’:
        • Efficiency – Able to produce significant output with minimal wasted effort.
        • Honesty/integrity – Does not cut corners ethically.
        • Organisation and planning – Plans, organises, schedules, and budgets in an efficient, productive manner.
        • Aggressiveness – Moves quickly and takes a forceful stand without being overly abrasive.
        • Follow-through on commitments.
        • Intelligence – Learns quickly.
        • Analytical skills – Able to structure and process qualitative and quantitative data and draw insightful conclusions.
        • Attention to detail.
        • Persistence – demonstrates tenacity and willingness to go the distance to get something done.
        • Proactivity – acts without being told what to do. Brings new ideas.
  • When looking for potential new employees don’t forget the power of business and personal networks.

Interviewing

  • When interviewing the following tactics need to be used:
    • Don’t be afraid to interrupt to get the interview back on track.
    • Use the three P’s:
      • Previous
      • Plan
      • Peers
    • Push versus Pull – were they pushed out of any previous roles.
  • Watch out for the following ‘major flags’ or ‘stop signs’
    • Candidate does not mention past failures.
    • Candidate exaggerates his or her answers.
    • Candidate takes credit for the work of others.
    • Candidate speaks poorly of past bosses.
    • Candidate cannot explain job moves.
    • People most important to candidate are unsupportive of change.
    • For managerial hires, candidate ha never had to hire or fire anybody.
    • Candidate seems more interested in compensation and benefits than in the job itself.
    • Candidate is too self-absorbed.

Selling the Job to the Candidate

  1. Fit – tie the candidate’s goals, strengths, and values with the company’s needs, vision and culture.
  2. Family – take into account the broader trauma of changing jobs.
  3. Freedom – make the candidate aware of the autonomy they will have to make decisions.
  4. Fortune – reflects the stability of your company and the overall financial upside.
  5. Fun – describes the work environment, and personal relationships that the candidate will make.

 

 

Practice Perfect

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The book is not designed solely for teachers; it offers practical advice on improvement for people in all walks of life. However the tips can be applied by teachers in two ways; ideas for how teachers can improve their own pedagogy, and ways that students can coach their students in improving their examination performance. The author’s claim that the aim of the book is to engage the dream of better. They claim that  deliberately engineered and designed practice can revolutionise the most important endeavours, however frequently practice is not used to the best effect.

The book refers to Doug Lemov’s previous book ‘Teach like a Champion’ [a book that I have not read but will now]; and talks about characteristics of high performing teachers. The authors state that ‘Great teachers obsessed on things like how efficiently they used time in the classroom.’ …[they also had] questions which were artful; their assignments, demanding – but there was a clear tendency among positive outliers to see the power of the humdrum, the everyday. He talks about teachers rehearsing how they ask questions, how they start lessons, and also how they would deal with disruption. He gives case studies of teachers practicing non-verbal ways of dealing with students disruption and anticipating the response. There are examples of teachers spending 10 minutes a day to improve their questioning and responding to questions. This allowed teachers to then concentrate on the nuances of student answers and other aspects of teaching.

The authors state that outside the world of professional athletics it is rare for professionals to practice. The premise of the book is that all people can use practice to improve.However it is important that it is done correctly, as we can work hard without getting very far. The book states “it is not just enough to be busy”.

The author has put together 42 rules which can be used to improve practice; I have shared some of the rules below:

Rule 1: Encode Success

Practice makes permanent, It is important to practice doing the right thing; though it is important that practice is pitched at the correct level. Practice that is pitched at the wrong level is not useful as people the practice failing.Practice activities should be engineered so the success rate is reliably high.

Rule 2: Practice the 20

80% of results come from 20% of the ‘things’; it is important to practice the things that matter. This requires more time to be spent on planning, but this can be done in advance.

Rule 3: Let the mind follow the body

Learn skills to the way to autonomy; that way the skills can be used automatically. If skills are practised enough they will become second nature and used without thinking.

Rule 4: Unlock Creativity …. With Repetition

Repetition is often termed ‘drill and kill’ – the opposite of higher order thinking and creativity. However creativity often comes about because the mind has been set free as the basics are now second nature.

Rule 5: Replace your Purpose (with an objective)

Vague ideas of a “purpose” should replaced with a manageable and measurable objective that is made ahead of practice and gives guidance. This allows progress to be measured.

Rule 10: Isolate the Skill

If you attempt to practice too much at once the results will be mixed. Practice the skill in isolation until the learner has mastered it.

Rule 11: Name it

Name each skill or technique you practice; use this vocabulary, ask others to name them and then ensure those names are used correctly.

Rule 14: Make Each Minute Matter

Identify areas in which time is wasted; and create remedies to ensure all time is fully utilised; and create those remedies into routines.

Rule 16: Call your Shots & Rule 17: Make Models Believable

Before modelling something, explain what you are looking for. In addition the context that things are modelled in should be as similar as possible to context in which the learner must perform.

Rule 19: Insist they “Walk this Way”

I found this interesting, as frequently people try to put their own personal touch on things. However the authors argue that it is best to ensure that  people directly imitate the model.

Rule 20: Model Skinny Parts

Model complex skills one step at a time rather than demonstrating complex skills in their entirity.

Rule 23-30 Focus on Feedback (I have attempted to summarise the feedback section rather than dealing with each rule individually)

  • Get people to commit to using feedback, discuss when the feedback will but into action and build a culture of accountability.
  • Build a culture of people getting better at using feedback by doing it a lot.
  • Instead of reflecting on feedback get participants to apply the feedback first and then reflect.
  • Shorten the feedback loop and give feedback straight away – I think when considering lesson observations this may mean giving feedback at the end of the lesson even if it is not fully formed / written up.
  • Highlight what people do right as well as what they do wrong.
  • Limit the amount of feedback given so it is not overwhelming.
  • When people get multiple sources of feedback track the feedback so what people hear is consistent and not overwhelming – a really important one for schools!
  • When giving feedback don’t use “don’t” ; instead focus on telling participants how to succeed.
  • Lock in feedback, when giving feedback: 1. Ask recipients to summarise what they heard you say; 2. Ask recipients to prioritise the most important parts of the feedback; 3. Ask recipients to identify the next action they are going to take.

Rule 31 – 37 Creating a culture of practice

The final section of the book looks at how to create a culture of practice within an organisation. There are a number of suggestions; they create a fine line between accepting errors and ensuring errors are not minimised or ignored. They need to ensure that the barriers to practice are knocked down and anticipate some people will resist practice.

Some other elements are:

  • Utilise friendly and positive competition.
  • As the leader be willing to model and engage in practice.
  • As a leader ask for feedback on your own practice.
  • Allow team members to self-identify particular skills and areas of growth they want to focus on.
  • Normalise praise that supports good practice; actions not traits.
  • Create systems of recognition.

Post-Practice

The last section looks at how to make new skills stick.

  • If a particular skills are going to be evaluated; practice those skills first.
  • Use the names of skills to discuss skills post practice to keep them alive.
  • Reward hard work and communicate a sense of urgency when improvement is necessary.

The conclusion gives practical advice on how to implement some of the skills. I strongly recommend reading this book as it is relevant to all walks of life and walks the fine balance between theory and practice successfully.

 

True North

I have just finished reading the book ‘True North’ by Bill George. This is a general leadership book however considering the current state of flux in teaching and constant external pressures it is well worth a read and applicable to educational leaders.

George describes ‘True North’ as “the internal compass that guides you successfully though life. It represents who you are as a human being at your deepest level. It is your orienting point- your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track as a leader. Your True North is based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations, the sources of satisfaction in your life.”

The novel talks about authentic leadership and defines the five dimensions that authentic leaders have:

  • Pursuing purpose with passion.
  • Practicing solid values.
  • Leading with heart.
  • Establishing enduring relationships.
  • Demonstrating self-discipline.

The diagram below shows the compass with the components to help you focus on your ‘true north’.

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The following fundamental questions can be used with the compass:

  • Self-awareness: What is my story? What are my strengths and developmental needs?
  • Values: What are my most deeply held values? What principles guide my leadership?
  • Motivations: What motivates me? How do I balance internal and external motivations?
  • Support Team: Who are the people I can count on to guide and support me along the way?
  • Integrated Life: How can I integrate all aspects of my life and find fulfillment?

There are some definitions that are helpful in understanding the model:

Values – The relative importance of the things that matter in your life.
Leadership Principles – A set of standards used in leading others, derived from your values. Principles are values translated into action.
Ethical Boundaries – The limits placed on your actions, based on your standards of ethical behavior.

Bill George explains the important of maintaining balance in your life. This is done through the analogy of buckets and explains you must spend time on all quadrants.

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There are also a number of quotes. There is one from John Donahoe, President of eBay:

Leadership is a journey, not a destination.
It is a marathon, not a sprint.
It is a process, not an outcome.

Another that resonated is by Jaime Irick, General Electric:

When you become a leader , your challenge is to inspire others, develop them, and create change through them.
You’ve got to flip that switch and understand that it’s about serving the folks on your team.

I think the most important quote is from Mark Reynoso (Belkin Corporation), it is about maintaining perspective.

If I have a hundred balls coming at my and can only grab only two, I can stress out ab out missing ninety-eight balls or accept the reality I can grab only two – and make sure those are the most important ones..

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I would recommend this book as it is a quick read and is full of common sense advice to put things in perspective.

 

 

The author’s website is here.

It’s Not About the Coffee – Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks

This book written by Howard Behar, a former president of Starbucks international shares his personal philosophy on leadership. It is an interesting read regardless of your opinion of Starbucks, the book is not the ‘starbucks story’, although sometimes examples from Starbucks are used as analogies, this is a book looking at Behar’s leadership philosophies.

Like many leadership books Behar begins by giving a list of guiding principles. Behar’s ten principles are:

  1. Know who you are: Where one hat – be clear about your values, purposes and goals.
  2. Know why you’re here: Do it because it’s right, not because it’s right for your resume.
  3. Think independently: The person who sweeps the floor should choose the brooms.
  4. Build Trust: Care, like you really mean it.
  5. Listen for the truth: The walls talk.
  6. Be Accountable: Only the Truth sounds like the truth.
  7. Take Action: Think like a person of action, and act like a person of thought.
  8. Face Challenge: We are human beings first.
  9. Practice Leadership: The big noise and the still, small voice.
  10. Dare to Dream: Say Yes, the Most Powerful Word in the World.
While reading the book there were a few passages that I took the time to note down:
  • Being busy and juggling lots of different roles can make us, edgy, inefficient, frustrated, and hard to be around. However if all these hats are serving the same goals and values, the person can gain the skills and find the support needed to grow the enterprise.
  • People who feel good about themselves produce good results.
  • By changing yourself to meet the needs of others you prevent yourself from doing what you do best.
  • It’s too easy to get caught up following the rule book rather than meeting the true needs of the people we serve.
  • In many cases the rule book goes way to far – it tries to tell people how to be instead of explaining what we are trying to do.
  • You know you are doing the right things when:You see so much more when you see things in a fresh way and really listen. Take a different path. See who is there, and keep our antennae up. You’ll hear the walls talk.
    • What you want to do, what you’re inspired to do, and what hte organisation, your boss, adn your customers want  and need you to do are all aligned.
    • You can think independently, because you are clear about the larger goal.
    • You get the information and authority you need to make better on the job decisions.
    • You start asking – and encourage those around you to ask – how your own unique skill set could best serve the task, project, or problem at hand.
  • Do it in person. There is no substitute for human exchange. Sit down and talk with people. Take time to listen.
  • People need to believe they can make things happen and that they can try things, even if eventually they don’t work out, because you never know when the one you’re working on will be the one that will work.
  • Celebrate Failures. Celebrating failures gets rid of the risk of failure. People learn to trust that they can take risks and nothing bad will happen. Not taking risks and not taking action is the thing to fight against.
  • If it’s not illegal, immoral, or unethical, and as long as we won’t poison somebody and someone wants it, then we ought to try it.

The edition of the book that I have begins with a forward entitled ‘leading in hard times’; this gives a checklist for leadership in hard times.

    • Are you being true to yourself and your values?
    • Are you listening and basing your actions on the best information available – including “unaccepted” truths and insights?
    • Are you clear about your role, purpose, and contribution? Are you doing things for the right reasons?
    • Is the right person making the right decisions?
    • Are your decisions and actions building trust and showing you care?
    • Are you taking responsibility and not blaming others?
    • Are you letting truth be you guide?

 

Management in 10 Words

I read this book after hearing Terry Leahy interviewed on Radio 4. This book is part autobiography of his time at the helm of Tesco’s and part a text on management. Whatever you think about Tescos (and I will admit I avoid shopping in Tesco if I can help it) is that this is a well researched and well written book.

Leahy’s 10 Words are:

  1. Truth – Organisations are terrible at confronting the truth. IT is much easier to define your own version of reality, and  judge success and failure according to that. But my experience is that truth is crucial both to create and to sustain success.
  2. Loyalty – Winning and retaining loyalty is the best objective any business – indeed, any organisation – can have. The search for loyalty has, at its heart, an age-old idea: you reward the behaviour you see from others.
  3. Courage – Good strategies need to be bold and daring. People need to be stretched as tehy can do more than they think Goals have to cause excitement, and perhaps just a little fear. Above all, they need to inspire, and present an organisation with a choice: have these great ambitions, or remain as you are.
  4. Values – Strong values underpin successful businesses. They give managers a sheet anchor, something that holds their position and keeps them from being smashed against the rocks when caught in a storm. Values govern how a business behaves, what it sees as importnat, what it does when faced with a problem.
  5. Act – Intention is never enough. Plans mean nothing if they are not effectively enacted.
  6. Balance – A balanced organisation is one in which everyone moves forward together, steered in the right direction, without being overrun by the juggernaut of bureaucracy.
  7. Simple – Change in any fast moving company is not easy. My solution is quite simple: to make things simple. Simplicity is the knife that cuts through the tangled spaghetti of life’s problems.
  8. Learn – Sustainable consumption depends on desiring goods and services that use fewer natural resources. By thinking lean, we can go green – and do more, for less.
  9. Compete – Competitors – and the act of competition itself – are great competitors to come over the horizon. Seek them out.
  10. Trust – Trust is the bedrock of leadership. When people trust you, they feel safe in your hands, and they have confidence in you vision, ability, judgment, drive and determination to see things through.
There were some points in the book that I noted down that I have shared below:
  • Organisations should not have strategy units; strategy should come from the very top of an organisation and then should not be tinkered with; strategy units allow leaders to abdicate their responsibility.
  • Failure: a word that strikes terror into peoples hearts. However you cannot have success without failure. Those who know the fear of failure and press ahead regardless are courageous .
  • An analogy of using the Tokyo production system was explained; stating that no problem, error or mistake was treated as a one-off. Each occurrence was seen as an event that should be engineered out of the system – interrogating the cause of the fault until the ultimate cause had been identified and fixed. This shows the power of learning from failure.
  • People’s behaviour is swayed more by emotion, their gut reaction, than by reason. Those emotions are often driven and underpinned by values.
  • Some managers are cynical about writing down an organisation’s values. While it may be true that people do share many common values, when you write down what you and your team care most about, you are likely to be creating something unique for your company or organisation.
  • Clear values set a framework for good behaviour, a sense of discipline and an environment in which people feel confident and secure.
  • When drawing up a system a leader must be sure – and needs to check – that there is one person who is responsible for understanding the wood, trees, branches and twigs of the entire system being designed, and that person leads the project.
  • ‘Bureaucratic’ is one of the worst insults you can throw at someone – you’re slow, unresponsive, wedded to rules and regulations. For the humans inside a bureaucratic organisations, work can quickly become a rather confused, isolated, and unsettling experience. They feel trapped in a structure which controls rather than serves them.
  • Processes should be simple. To check whether something is simple use the ABC test. Simple is Acheivable, brings Benefit, and is Clear.
    • Achievable – I can do this new process correctly first time (have the skills and the resources).
    • Benefit – Process helps us achieve our aims, or fix something that is broken.
    • Clear – it was easy to remember and explain to others.

This book is a fairly quick read and I would strongly recommend it to others.

Stoll and Fink Analysis

On Wednesday I attended a training session which looked at among other things the characteristics of a successful subject area.

One of the things that was presented was Stoll and Fink analysis; this was originally written for whole school improvement but the trainer put forward the idea that this can also be used on a department and subject level.

The idea is that the department can fit into one of the five boxes.

Moving

  • Boosts student progress and achievement.
  • People work together and respond to change.
  • People know where they are going and have the will and the skill to get there.

Cruising Subject Area

  • Appear to have many of the qualities of an effective subject area.
  • Pupils achieve despite the teaching.
  • The people are responding well to change.

Strolling Subject Area

  • Neither particularly effective or ineffective.
  • Move at an adequate pace to cope with change.
  • Have ill-defined aims.
  • Conflict sometimes inhibits progress.

Struggling Subject Area

  • Ineffective and know it.
  • Expend energy trying to improve but results in “thrashing about”
  • They are willing to try anything and will ultimately succeed.

Sinking Subject Area

  • Staff are isolated.
  • There is an unwillingness to change either through ignorance or apathy.
  • There is a blame culture.
  • Student achievement is poor and failing.

I think that this is a useful tool to think about where you are and where you are going. I am planning on getting the book that this came from out of the library.Changing Our Schools: Linking School Effectiveness and School Improvement (Changing Education).