We Still Don't Know the Difference Between Change and Transformation

Ron Ashkenas, writing for Harvard Business Review:

Unlike change management, [transformation] doesn’t focus on a few discrete, well-defined shifts, but rather on a portfolio of initiatives, which are interdependent or intersecting. More importantly, the overall goal of transformation is not just to execute a defined change — but to reinvent the organization and discover a new or revised business model based on a vision for the future. It’s much more unpredictable, iterative, and experimental. It entails much higher risk. And even if successful change management leads to the execution of certain initiatives within the transformation portfolio, the overall transformation could still fail.

While his audience is clearly the business community, the above statement speaks volumes to educators just the same.

Making Dumb Groups Smarter

Cass R. Sunstein and Reid Hastie writing for the Harvard Business Review:

A smaller but nonetheless substantial body of research—some of it our own—has focused on the decision-making strengths and weaknesses of groups and teams. But little of this work has trickled into the public consciousness, and it has yet to have a noticeable effect on actual practice. It’s time for that to change. We aim to bring behavioral research into direct contact with the question of group performance—to describe the main ways in which groups go astray and to offer some simple suggestions for improvement.

Here are a few takeaways for anyone who frequently facilitates group decision-making:

  1. Keep your opinion to yourself, especially at the start, if you are interested in soliciting diverse opinions from the group.
  2. Be clear of a problem-solving or critical-thinking outcome (rather than one of group cohesion or collegiality) by emphasizing a need for information disclosure.
  3. Emphasize the importance and implications of the group's decision and de-emphasize any apparent gain from individual contributions.
  4. Disclose roles by telling the group who is at the table and why.
  5. For groups that may otherwise be too similar in their opinions, assign a devil's advocate. Be wary of this excercise, however as it can become little more than a game.
  6. For high-stakes decision-making, construct a "Red Team:" a group of individuals who were not part of the original team brought together For the purpose of finding mistakes and exploit vulnerabilities in the plan.

Five Questions

There are five questions I want to answer through my work during the second half of this year:

  1. Who are my teacher leaders and how have I empowered and supported them to excercise greater control over our school?
  2. How is the time I structure for my staff moving us forward in our our learning as an organization?
  3. Where is our school going next and how am I helping it get there?
  4. How are my teachers doing individually, what will it take to truly know, and how do I respond once I figure it out?
  5. How are my students doing, how do I know, and what am I doing about it?

Everything else should be noise.