“We Will BE the Joneses”

“We Will BE the Joneses”

Happy start of summer!  In the past 10 days, I have worked with superintendents from north-central New York, stretched in a 3,000-strong yoga jam with Michael Franti at Redrocks, hauled myself up and down the Colorado front range, intersected with 130 forward leaning educators to kick off the annual Traverse gathering in Boulder, and prototyped big elements of a new school operating system with the faculty of Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut.  I love my job!

Here are just three morsels:

At Traverse, I shared what I think are some of the “big hairy challenges” facing education in the future (I have previously shared these with you in earlier blogs and in my commencement speech a couple of weeks ago).  I asked groups of the attendees to come up with and share some of their own, and then we did some approval voting by applause.  In second place: “The growing gap between teachers who get that education needs to change and those who don’t, and what that means for our students”. And in overwhelming first place: “We need education policy that is not determined by old, white men.”  I could NOT agree more.

At Miss Porter’s School, nine design teams have been working on various elements of what will be a very different learning system.  During our prototyping day, the team designing adult learning and development came up with the tagline/mission statement: “We will be omnivores”.  I love it!  How better to describe a growth-minded community eager and willing to ingest and digest whatever is in the world around us!

And a second team, the “third horizon team”, dedicated to “finding what is unfound and learning what we don’t know”, arrived at their own sort-of framing statement, aligned to the age-tested three horizon framework of organizational innovation. “The first horizon is ‘who are the Joneses?’ The second is ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. Our third horizon is ‘we will BE the Joneses’”.

Innovation and transformation are all about enacting value-laden aspiration.  “We will BE the Joneses is aspirational, inspirational, and, in fact, measurable over time.  This is why the messiness of strategic design is so much more powerful than traditional top-down, board-led, committee-based strategic planning!

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