Wednesday, January 21, 2009

From great chaos comes great opportunity

Thomas Friedman, op-ed columnist for the New York Times (and author of The World is Flat) wrote an interesting piece today (1/21), the day after Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States.  I offer it to you (see the URLs list on this blog) not as a political statement but as an example of what our new President faces in his Organizational Development and analysis upon taking charge of this country.  Some may say that a country is not an organization. Probably not, but the government, as determined by the President, is (he picks the cabinet and other operational posts). 
How do you suppose Lewin would describe an organization in chaos through his Force Field Analysis?  Since turmoil has 'unfrozen' so much, the opportunity to restructure already exists.  How can we, as leaders, use this current chaos in our efforts to improve our organizations? This is a tremendous opportunity for us to add value to our existing organizations.  It is also a reality that should help you frame your projects.  Think about it - you don't need to create chaos for change  - it already exists!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Understanding Culture

"If you don't understand the culture of the company (or school, district or dept!), even your most brilliant strategies will fail.  Your vision will be resisted, plans won't get executed properly, and all kinds of things will start going wrong."   
Isadora Sharp, Chairman and CEO, Four Seasons Hotels

I am confident in saying that most educational leaders do not value enough the necessity of identifying the EXISTING culture of their school, district, academic department or program before they start off trying to make change - most often under the guise of "improvement."  How can you  know where the organization needs to go if you don't know where you already are? Change for change sake can't be productive. 
For a leader to truly have an impact on improving student performance it is critical that we understand the role culture plays in the educational organization.  Educational organizations are typically VERY stable and somewhat static organizations for employees. That must be where we start......