Running two operating systems in concert. #PLC #ATPLC #Leadership #Strategy

From John Kotter’s article “Accelerate!” in Harvard Business Review, November 2012 –

The existing structures and processes that together form an organization’s operating system need an additional element to address the challenges produced by mounting complexity and rapid change. The solution is a second operating system, devoted to the design and implementation of strategy, that uses an agile, networklike structure and a very different set of processes. The new operating system continually assesses the business, the industry, and the organization, and reacts with greater agility, speed, and creativity than the existing one. It complements rather than overburdens the traditional hierarchy, thus freeing the latter to do what it’s optimized to do. It actually makes enterprises easier to run and accelerates strategic change. This is not an “either or” idea. It’s “both and.” I’m proposing two systems that operate in concert.
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During my fourth year as a middle school principal, in 2006-07, we began to restructure as a professional learning community, implementing the incredible work of Rick and Becky DuFour and Bob Eaker. As we progressed in this restructuring around a different work ethos, we tapped volunteers to co-lead the various departmental learning teams. Together these co-faciliators created the PLC-Facilitators PLC – a kind of meta-team to serve as a guiding coalition for the entire PLC transformation.

We ran two operating systems – an admin team known as the Guidance Committee (hierarchical), as well as the PLC-Facilitators PLC (networked). The Guidance Committee was tremendous at running the logistical operations of the school, just as Kotter describes the strengths of a hierarchical administration. The PLC-Facilitators PLC, and the “solar system” of PLCs throughout the middle school, was tremendous at adeptly navigating – even map making – for the strategic transformations necessary in a learning community being influenced by technology enhancements, brain research, assessment literacies, pedagogical improvements, etc.

Two operating systems may seem counter-intuituve. Yet, it was this practice of running two systems in concert that permitted us to embrace complexity versus trying to manage it.

[HT to Tod Martin for the Kotter article!]

2012 in review – the auto-prepared annual report of It’s About Learning

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 23,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

[Note: I’ve read a few blog self-analysis, “year in review” posts from other bloggers that I follow. However, I have resisted doing the same exercise for this blog. Then, yesterday, I received an email from WordPress explaining that their “stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.” At the conclusion of the annual report was an option to make the stats public and add as a blog post. I’m just trying out this feature.]

[Note #2: Here’s the automated annual report for PLC-Facilitators: Learning is the Focus, a blog that @jgough and I maintained for our work with the PLC facilitators at The Westminster Schools.]

System turbulence, needed green dye, innovating innovation, and #pedagogicalmasterplanning

Are you learning as fast as the world is changing? In this insightful HBR article, Bill Taylor wrote:

In a world that never stops changing, great leaders never stop learning.

Eddie Obeng made this passionately visual in his TED talk – “Smart failure for a fast-changing world.

Obeng provided a picture of injecting green dye into a pipe of faster and faster moving water until the turbulence created can actually be seen. Then, he graphed what happens when the pace of change outstrips the rate at which we learn.

What we call “schools” exist in this world of ever-quickening change. What “green dye” are you using in your school so that the pace and nature of change is more visible…more tangible and discernible?

When I was a school principal, a support I provided for nearly a decade, I thought the best green dye I could inject was providing time for faculty to be together – a meta-goal advocated for in Carrie Leana’s “The Missing Link in School Reform.” Together, we implemented and improved on a few practices:

  • Peer visits – we committed to at least two peer visits a year. Many practitioners, especially those who really strived to improve, made sure that they exceeded the minimum.
  • PLCs – learning from 25 years of research and practice in public schools, we built a system that created job-embedded R&D time for faculty. In the model we created, participating faculty spent four 55-minute periods a week together so that they could do things akin to what David Creelman described when writing about the architect Christopher Alexander as Eishen campus near Tokyo was designed and built. Just like Alexander employed a short-cycle, iterative-prototype mix of design-and-construction so that architecture could inform building and building could inform architecture, the PLCs together designed instruction and assessment, built the constructive lessons with student-learners, and debriefed how to improve the design for the next phase of building.

The infrastructure contained some additional parts and pieces, and this infrastructure facilitated learning at a rate and pace that more closely matches the rate and pace of change that we are experiencing in schools – from technology, globalization, and knowledge about the brain, just to name a few influencers.

My best work, which I did not do alone – I had tons of collaborative help, was simply to make it easier for faculty to work together. Individual learning remained important, too, of course, but the traditional silo-ing traits of school were broken down so that necessary and essential co-laboring and co-learning could occur more often than at sporadic lunches or happenstance encounters in the faculty lounge. The get-togethers were made intentional, purposeful, and systemic.

My next arc of learning and educational support finds me at Unboundary, a transformation design studio. As Polly LaBarre is calling in “Help Us Innovate the Innovation Process,” we are working to design and prototype something currently called “pedagogical master planning.” Essentially, we are deconstructing the campus-master-planning process, and we are re-imagining it as a metaphor or framework to architect and engineer a strategic-design method for systematizing and enhancing the core purpose and radial functions of a learning/teaching community. It’s a next generation of strategic planning. Like Christopher Alexander’s methods with Eishen, pedagogical master planning will involve a short-cycle, iterative-prototype, dynamic responsiveness. Like the PLC’s ethos and structure, pedagogical master planning will systematize the parts and pieces of the whole – not to make the system rigid or slow-moving in complexity, but to respect, leverage, and amplify the interrelated and integrated nature of real systems.

At a time when change continues to quicken, we must design learning systems that can keep pace – or even outpace – the rate of change in the world. Master planning for such learning systems will necessitate a series of shifts from strategic planning to strategic design…design that serves as a green dye to make the intersections of change and learning visible, harness-able, and enhanceable.

Leading Learners to Level Up #MICON12

On Wednesday, June 13, Bo Adams and Jill Gough are  facilitating a session at The Martin Institute’s 2012 Conference (#MICON12 on Twitter) on formative assessment entitled Leading Learners to Level Up.

Leveled formative assessment that offers learners the ability to calibrate understanding with expectations and, at the same time, shows the path to the next level will improve learning and teaching. Use assessment to inform learners where they are on the learning spectrum, where the targets are, and how to level up.

Leading Learners to Level Up (Framework plans) [50 minutes]

  1. Formative Assessment presentation [15 minutes]
  2. Examples of Leveled Formative assessments
    1. Algebra: Linear Functions, Slope [5 minutes]
    2. Synergy: Essential Learnings, Observation Journals [5 minutes]
    3. SMART Goals and other PLC examples [5 minutes]
  3. Use PollEverywhere to decide the next step:  many individual/pair workshopped rubrics or mini individual workshopped rubric to then share out to whole group (like faculty web presence; group work – engaged participation) [5 minutes]
  4. Participant workshop time to develop leveled assessment for use with learners   [10 minutes + 10 minutes to share out & wrap up]

[Cross-posted at Experiments in Learning by Doing]

CHANGEd: What if we scrimmaged and rehearsed more – like teams? 60-60-60 #48

Well, I’ve bumped another scheduled post! Yesterday, I enjoyed a great time in the Junior High math-science PLC (Professional Learning Community) that meets four days a week during Period 4. The math-science PLC has been working on lesson studies for PBL (project-based learning). One of the teams created a lesson on the Fibonacci sequence and nature (see Vi Hart’s video about the Fibonacci sequence for a quick taste).

On Monday, we experienced and tested the lesson. We scrimmaged. We rehearsed. The room contained teams of teachers in one math-science PLC. Before rolling out this lesson to students, we prototyped the “need to know,” the content, the methodology and pedagogy, the possibilities for “voice and choice,” etc. We measured our fingers, our faces, our arms, and our legs. We discovered the Golden Ratio over and over again. We had fun, and we learned. And…we practiced!

Don’t we know that scrimmaging and rehearsing enhance performance?! Don’t we owe it to our learners to practice, scrimmage, and rehearse before we play the actual game?!

CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 Project Explained