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School Innovation is Led by Educators Who Just Do It

How explosive are the fires of school innovation today?  Let me tell you.  Two years ago southern California was a school innovation desert.  Other than the HIgh Tech High charters and the tiny private Grauer School, one would have been hard pressed to find exemplars of deeper learning schools in all of San Diego County. [...]

State of Innovation, Part 5: What Do CEO’s Say About Successful Innovation?

This is the final post of my five-part review of the state of innovation, prompted by a year-end summary by Paul Hobcraft.  In "Innovation: the New Competitive Equation", The Business Performance Network published data from a survey of 200 CEO's about what they felt are the keys to successful innovation in their organizations and industries.  I [...]

Five Innovations to School Design Thinking Process Yield Powerful Results

I am engaged in several year-plus design thinking efforts with schools and districts that are sincerely committed to finding and implementing user-centric solutions that create lasting value. The basic processes are those developed by the Stanford and the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation, along with others.  At the Tilton School in New Hampshire (HT Kate Saunders [...]

Get Time Right; Don’t Settle for “Vanilla+”

Every school serious about change will struggle with the use of time. After our people, time is our most precious resource. Reimagining the use of time is one of the most impactful discussions your school will EVER have. Get it right and all sorts of innovation are possible. Make a few modest tweaks and almost all [...]

State of Innovation, Part 4: School Innovation Portfolio Dashboard

“How do we know that our innovation strategy is effective?” This question freezes many organizations, including schools, from creating an intentional, systematic approach to changing traditional practices. Organizations with effective innovation strategies have a portfolio of programs that spread resources (time, people, ideas, money) across a range of projects with varying levels of risk and [...]

Lessons From the Best: Gold Medal Strategies for Schools

What can the ricochet of an elusively aimed volleyball teach us about effective innovation in schools? Plenty. How an elite group of athletes and coaches deal with new ideas, growth mindset, organizational vision, leadership, uncertainty, and stress is a near-perfect analogue for other team-based groups, including schools and school districts. Fortunately, I have a window into one [...]

State of Innovation, Part 3: Five Key Questions to Frame School Innovation

In his year-end summary of innovation best practices, Paul Hobart references discussions and key questions from the annual executive innovation summit held by consulting firm Innosight.  The five key questions below are theirs from "Leading Transformation: 2015 CEO Summit"; the commentary on how these manifest in schools is mine.  Is our balance of exploitation vs. [...]

State of Innovation 2015 Part 2: High Hurdles

What are the common obstacles to innovation in a school? What are the characteristics of a leader who can routinely overcome those obstacles? In my book #EdJourney, I identified fear, inertia, silos, and college admissions as some of the key obstacles to innovation and school. Now we can drill down into, and learn lessons from, similar studies [...]

State of Innovation 2015 Part 1: Stepping Up Attention to the Customer

How do you know if your school is increasingly innovative? How do you know if innovation is changing the school culture? How can we improve our chances that innovation actually results in positive outcomes for our students and our school's future? Paul Hobcraft, a thought leader on innovation practice, has published a summary of authoritative reports [...]