Governance and leadership

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The Power of 10,000 Small Ideas

We have passed a fundamental tipping point in the evolution of human connectivity. For millennia, big ideas spread through a highly-constricted pipeline. Masses of humanity listened to a handful of political, religious, or social influencers and followed where those few led.  Humans were a metaphorical crowd of 10,000 people listening for one good idea from [...]

Build a Team of Teams at Your School

What does fighting a terror-based insurgency have in common with running a school?  Fortunately the daily events are very different. But school leaders can learn critical lessons about managing large, complex organizations from how military, and increasingly business, leaders are learning to adapt to rapidly changing challenges. Retired General Stanley McCrystal led American forces in [...]

The Opportunity Atlas and the American Dream

There is no American Dream without the possibility of upward economic mobility. Education is, at its core, about preparing young people to succeed in a life to which they aspire, which is almost always at least as fruitful, if not more so, than that of their parents. Today, that dream is more remote for more [...]

The Simple Equation of Value-Strategy-Innovation

Following the lead of my new friend, Seth Godin, short blogs are better.  This picture really is worth 1,000 words.  Schools that are increasingly faced with the challenge that their students can and might select another school to attend, must develop, communicate, and deliver a winning value proposition or face loss of enrollment, and the [...]

Another Novel Route to Creating a True Strategic Plan

In another sign that the era of traditional five-year school strategic plans are dead, take a look at the approach led by head of school Ned Murray and this team at Episcopal Day School in Augusta, GA.  It is simple, clean, and generates action items based on aspirations and big questions, rather than the backward-looking distillation [...]

Lego Pieces and Leading Innovation

What can a 15-year-old autistic boy from Iceland teach us about leadership? Last week videos went viral of a 28-foot-long model of the Titanic, designed and built out of 65,000 Lego blocks by teenager Brynjar Karl Birgisson.  It is a remarkable feat of design, engineering, three-dimensional vision, and perseverance.  But what I want to dig [...]

Five Drivers of Effective Strategic Thinking for Schools

I have an upcoming meeting with members of a school board to help them understand how strategic planning is evolving.  There is so much to talk about, but I wanted to lay a foundation, so I challenged myself to put together about a ten slide, ten minute summary of what I think schools are doing [...]

The Wayne Gretzky Dilemma For Schools

Wayne Gretzky famously said. "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been".  How about a corollary for schools: "Design schools for the future, not for today". This sounds embarrassingly obvious, yet it is not. This morning I read an article about the 11,000 student Carlsbad School District on the [...]

See the Future in a Million Crystal Balls

Here's the problem:  We can lose the future if we forget the past, but we can't win the future with the past as our guide. What does that mean?  None of us really know, because for the first time in human history, the past is a decreasingly useful guide to what will work and not [...]

Strategy is About Surviving Evolution

Yesterday I spoke with an independent school head who emailed me on my views about strategic planning, how I might help, and who else they should reach out to. Here is what I shared: As I have written and spoken about for almost five years, the traditional independent school strategic plan is ineffective for a [...]