“An overlong list of ‘really important priorities'”

“An overlong list of ‘really important priorities'” (see quote below).

From my experience in schools, an overlong list of really important priorities names a major struggle for many school leadership teams. Not enough time and effort and concentration are spent on creating clarity and shared understanding of the school’s differentiating organizational capabilities. Too many leaders and too many teams allow the time and effort and concentration needed for such identity work to be crowded out by other things.

Perhaps it’s that overlong list of really important priorities that keeps us from focusing more purposefully on our own identity within a school. Maybe we should make that investigation of identity and purpose the #1 really important priority and recreate the list once we have that critical foundation built of knowing who we really are and what we intend to concentrate on as a learning community.

I have no intent or desire to corporatize education. However, I think that schools can learn a lot by studying other sectors, industries, and organizations that have undergone periods of monumental change and transformation, particularly corporations.

The article cited below has been a recent piece of that study for me. I hope you school leaders find it helpful, too.

Therefore, it is crucial to be clear about the capabilities your organization most needs to stand apart. Too often we see functional leaders and staff struggling because this is not well defined. Imagine trying to use the objective of being “innovative” as a criterion for the multitude of investments a company must make around product launches and R&D.

Unfortunately, when the company isn’t coherent — when its strengths are not linked explicitly to its strategic focus — most functions end up trying to keep up with an overlong list of “really important priorities.” This is an unwinnable proposition.

from “Rethinking the Function of Business Functions,” Harvard Business Review, by Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi  |  12:00 PM February 8, 2013

2 thoughts on ““An overlong list of ‘really important priorities'”

  1. And not just vision, but a rich interconnected ecosystem (your inspiration) that allows the vision to thrive and flourish. Lately I have been reflecting that our school environments are similar to a monoculture of industrial farming; one pest or one storm and our entire vision gets wiped out. If we invested real time, energy and thoughtfulness into building capacity in the way of connectedness and collaborative ties, maybe the vision could be held and actualized by many in diverse and rich ways.
    Just my “coffee thoughts” this AM 🙂

    • Thanks for your rich thoughts, Carolyn. I agree completely, and I love your metaphor of a monoculture of industrial farming. I think you are right that connectedness and collaboration are critical keys to proactively resisting such pests down the road!

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