Regardless of your politics, there is no question that the elections last week were revolutionary, and the potential impacts widespread. It is way too soon, with such volatility, to know for sure what those impacts will be for schools, communities, or individuals who comprise those communities. But if there ever was a time to make sure you are attuned to future change, it is now.
For years, I and others have been saying that the rate of change in the future will only increase, and that is hugely apparent right now. We have little knowledge of what changes are in store for national education policy and how those might impact state, regional, and local levels. We don’t know what changes will come from a highly unorthodox chief executive. We don’t know what direct impact there might be on specific individuals in our communities. Both public and private schools will be impacted by the ripples of decisions about which we know little. Dexterity and nimbleness in the face of volatility have always been critical parts of successful organizational DNA.
One of the most critical pieces of advice I have found in studying organizational change is the importance of having a good radar screen, to see changes coming in advance, to have the opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive. A good radar is not like a mythical crystal ball; it is not perfect and error free. But this is why those who are good at dealing with crises play out war games and table games and think in advance of how they might deal with the unexpected.
Here are some questions you should be asking:
- Is your forward-looking radar screen activated?
- Does your school have someone who is specifically tasked with bringing subjects of the future to the table?
- Do you have time and opportunity for teachers and administrators to discuss what they see and feel about the future?
- Are you openly asking your parent community about their concerns, and how those are changing?
- Are you taking this input seriously and gaming out possible responses to shifting conditions?
- Are you structured to react quickly to changes in external demands and opportunities?
- Do you have multiple pilots in various stages of design and trials?
- Have you diversified your portfolio of innovation risk? Do you even have a portfolio of innovation?