Every Organization Gets the Result They Are Designed to Get

A Fast Company article on how to design the 'Soft Stuff' of organizations.

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A quick and easy primer for how it is that organizational culture is created, and how to start thinking about where the culture of your school comes from and how it perpetuates itself.

6 Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation

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Photo of Michael Schurr

Hey Jeremy, How are you? Clearly, I think you are onto a great idea here and the comments below have really started to frame it out in more detail. We would love for you to share it in the ideate phase.

A couple of questions that might help frame out this idea:
What’s this idea about?
Why is this an idea that creates a culture of innovation?
How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal?
How’d you get this idea off the ground?

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or want to talk the idea out in more detail!

Photo of Michael Schurr

Jeremy, this is an awesome article! I particularly like numbers 2 and 5. I have long thought about how schools could adopt the model of giving teachers a certain percentage of the school week to engage in innovative problem solving. While it would be a challenge to create buy-in from certain constituents, there has to be a way to make it work. IMO, we would need to answer a few key questions. What is the value of giving teachers time to problem solve/create together? Who benefits? How do we assess the success/failures of teacher project? Most of these I think tie into point 4, "measure what's meaningful."

I also love the idea of giving "worthless" awards. At my first school in AZ, we used to have a monthly faculty breakfast. the breakfast were a nice way to enjoy each other's company as well as build community. Each month, a faculty member received the biggest "mess up" of the month. It was a way to show we all make mistakes but are willing to admit it and grow from our mistakes. All day you had to wear a cheap plastic necklace. The expectation was that anyone who asked about it, you had to share the story. Great way to create a culture of growing from failure.

Thanks for the share!

Photo of Jeremy D

I'm amazed that the necklace practice took off! That's awesome. As for your questions, I think it's a big struggle in teaching, as so much of what we do is 'messy' and anecdotal in terms of evidence - especially when it comes to teacher interventions. Having an administration that is open minded about how to measure is a good first step, I think.

On something of a side note, but related to this conversation and the one we had in August: There's a book called Intentional Interuption (http://www.amazon.ca/Intentional-Interruption-Breaking-Transform-Professional/dp/1412998794) that's all about how teacher PD and PLCs (professional learning communities, as we call them up here) are a really good idea, but aren't being executed effectively. You should definitely check it out. What really hit home for me was their identification of how at any given 30 teacher PD session: 5 people will be hostile to the ideas, 10 will be politely interested, 10 will be interested but won't take it further than that day, and that only 5 actually walk away with meaningful change (1 or 2 who will still be pursuing that change 3 months later). They talk a lot about what makes teacher learning - or 'teacher playing', in this case - groups effective at actually accomplishing things, which would be an interesting sidebar to figuring out what an innovative/creative culture could look like.

Photo of Emma Scripps

Hey - great article. This rule really resonated: 2. CREATE A STRUCTURE FOR UNSTRUCTURED TIME

... a couple of other teachers have been talking about how too much structure can stifle innovation.

Might be fun to reach out to Adam Fry https://teachersguild.org/profiles/10153401280496399

And Melissa Lim about this: https://teachersguild.org/profiles/102528318792355217471

I could see some of the insights from this article turn into an idea come the ideate phase.

Photo of Jeremy D

I think this is what Cheryl (above post) is getting at, too. In my mind you need to create a 'Productive Playground' for it to be a purposeful creTive experience (one that could incorporate unstructured moments, but that had an overarching purpose/reason). Or maybe not! I can also see value in having an unstructured creative experience, but that seems like a much tougher thing to create in places (re: Schools) where accountability is such a pressing issue.

Photo of Cheryl Reynolds-Fefles

# 2 really resonated with me also. I keep thinking about play and how it's needed for innovation. How do you structure play?

Photo of Jeremy D

I really like the question 'How do you structure play?' because at some point, it seems to me, over structured play isn't really 'play', right? At the same time, some structure/rules are also needed if you're looking for some kind of productivity. I think that's a big part of the challenge we're working on here.