Ready For Change? A Pre-Flight Checklist

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Ready For Change? A Pre-Flight Checklist

What questions should schools ask as they embark on a process of innovative change? What are critical expectations they must have of their community? What are the big challenges they will face? Here is a lis of questions and challenges you can use to provoke the discussions of “are we ready” and “are we serious” about real change:


  • Does the community understand and agree the meaning of the words in the mission, vision, and other primary guiding documents?
  • Is the community ready to re-align resources in order to make significant changes in the student experience? Are there sacred cows in the resource pool or is everything up for discussion?
  • Have you had open discussions about the nature of risk taking? Do stakeholders know where their authority to try new things lies?
  • Is the community prepared to sunset some (possibly long-standing) programs and approaches to learning?
  • How might we create a system of distributed leadership and decision-making that creates the conditions for innovative practice?
  • How might we build a more collaborative process of on-going strategic thinking amongst board, faculty, administration, students, and parents?
  • What if some faculty strongly feel that these new directions are off-target? How might we support them, and where will we require all-school agreement?

Expectations of our community:

  • Are team members ready to assume mantels of situational, not positional authority?
  • Is the community ready to extend from asking “how, who, what, and when” to “what if” and “how might we”?
  • Are we ready to launch innovations without the guarantee of success?
  • Are we ready to embrace discomfort?
  • Are we willing to make difficult choices when alignment to the North Star requires them?
  • Are we ready to embrace evolution, adaptation, and a degree of ambiguity?
  • Do we have the stamina to keep at it?


  • What we want does not align with what we have done in the past.
  • It’s complicated and messy.
  • Busting traditional silos/roles/turf.
  • Finding time within very busy days.
  • Building an institutional skill set in design-type thinking
  • The “Someday-Monday” syndrome of great sounding theory vs actual practice.
  • Going “all-in”
  • The resistant 15% who really don’t want, and will actively resist, any substantive change.
  • Communicating to parents and colleges
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