organized for constant change…organization’s function is to put knowledge to work

Peter Drucker on the Profession of Management, 1998 [Hat tip to Mike Wagner (@BigWags)]

… [A business] must be organized for the systematic abandonment of whatever is established, customary, familiar, and comfortable, whether that is a product, service, process; a set of skills, human and social relationships; or the organization itself.

In short, it must be organized for constant change. The organization’s function is to put knowledge to work — on tools, products, and processes; on the design of work; on knowledge itself. It is in the nature of knowledge that it changes fast and that today’s certainties always become tomorrow’s absurdities.”

Could, should, would we substitute “school” for “business?”

7 thoughts on “organized for constant change…organization’s function is to put knowledge to work

  1. Pingback: Why? A very important question! | Center for Teaching

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  3. Absolutely, Bo. I have always substituted organization in for business– any thriving organization, and let’s add one that will survive, is one that is ready for constant change. Let’s even move past ready and say inviting and embracing constant change. After all, that is the fundamental condition of a growth mindset. Just as people can have a growth mindset, organizations– especially learning organizations like schools– should!

  4. I believe that we can transfer some of these elements from business to our educational system. The process and the product has and can continue to change but I believe that the service remains the constant. When the process of education began a small number of people possessed the power to be teachers. Over time that system has changed to the current system where anyone with the skills and resources necessary can have access to an overwhelming amount of information/teachers/opportunities on the web. The access and democratization of knowledge and the ability to learn anywhere and at any time has and will continue to drastically change our process. Students who are passionate about their learning can now come in to “school” with a deeper level of background knowledge. The product that we create has changed over time (static skill set industrial worker to global empathetic citizen with a constantly changing skill and mindset). That product will also continue to change and morph. The service of educational systems however, in my mind, has stayed constant. The goal has always been to empower students to love learning continuously and improving themselves through various/varied iterations, assessment of needs and personal reflection.

    I hope that the emphasis on human and social relationships within our system will never change. This is the responsibility of the “teacher” as we move forward. The must discover, curate, develop and connect with students, connect students to other students, and connect students to specialists who can support their passions. Teachers support and create relationships and are essential to the education process. Sometimes I worry that the emphasis on technology will start to erode our social interactions. Tech should not be allowed to erode this connection but must expand and intensify the number/breadth/depth of the connections that we create. Only through these connections will we be able to solve the cross-curricular problems that face our society now and in the future.

    • Scott, I have been returning to your comment regularly and re-reading. You really got me thinking. Thanks!

      This section is what’s spurring my thinking the most:
      “The service of educational systems however, in my mind, has stayed constant. The goal has always been to empower students to love learning continuously and improving themselves through various/varied iterations, assessment of needs and personal reflection.”

      I don’t mean to discuss this by merely parsing your words, but I am now realizing that I have been perplexed by “service” and “goal.” While I agree with you about the goal, to a certain extent (I think there are other primary goals at play, too), I disagree about the “service.” I think in the recent decade or two, our service (meaning, processes) in traditional schooling has almost functioned in a contradictory way to our goals. At the very least, I see the applicability of some of my econ training in production possibilities frontiers. I believe that our goals are on the production possibilities frontier, yet our services – our processes – in traditional schooling have been operating sub-optimally…that is, below the PPF.

      Does that make any sense? That reasoning above may lie at the core of what I am pondering vis a vis the business of change and our obligation and responsibility in schooling to be about the business of change…even and especially in ourselves as organizations.

      Thanks for the brain push!

  5. Bo,

    I am officially hanging up my C&A cleats at the end of this month – and what a wonderful decision that feels to be.

    Still have two workshops before I cross the finish line: one in Baltimore and one in San Diego so working to the end!

    I took a young friend to the Atlanta Design Museum last Saturday and we had such a wonderful time strolling about the exhibit of Paul Rand’s work. Wondered if you are familiar with the museum and whether you had the chance to see this exhibit. Paul, having been a professor at Yale, is an extraordinary spokesperson for the power of design and the aesthetic of design.

    It seems that you are flourishing in your job.

    A very happy holiday to you and your family.


    Peter W. Cobb President Cobb & Associates

    • Peter,
      How GREAT to hear from you. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. First and foremost – CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU! Congrats on accepting a new chapter in your journey, and thank you for all that you have done for formal education and school transformation. We all owe a lot to you and your work.

      In fact, I do know of MODA. I’ve just been named to their Board, and we are working on some exciting projects among MODA and MVPS. Thanks for making sure. Indeed, I am a HUGE fan.

      Happy New Year! All the best to you!

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