Return to site

Collaboration and Innovation -opportunity and optimism

broken image

I've been in contact with many school and system leaders over the last two months, and their reflections on this time have been fascinating and insightful. One of my discussions with Stephen Kendall-Jones early last week was captured on camera. In the interview, Stephen shares the design thinking work his school Albany Junior High in Auckland is doing to ensure emerging from this time is an evolved education approach. The link to this video is further down this newsletter.

In some school cultures, that may have been further down the Collaborative Culture model (above), prior to CoVID19, the deep understanding of a strong learning culture, authentic collaboration and collective efficacy had previously been missing. In its place may have been lack of trust, resistance, shallow collaboration - only there by default of compliance (some professional learning teams initiatives) and overused comments of 'this is just more work'. Yet now most people have seen the power of collaborative effort and leadership support shift them swiftly to remote learning. John Kotter's first step in his 8 steps for large scale change - increase urgency has been felt profoundly by the whole of society and especially in education.

Frequently over the last two months, school leaders have spoken of the wonderful examples of authentic collaboration amongst their teachers and support staff, as our profession has grappled with providing quality learning and teaching remotely, while keeping a focus on connection and relationships.

The strongest thing that stands out for me is that the principles on which a thriving collaborative culture - The Buzz - has always stood are coming to the top as critical to our success:

  • Schools with strong staff learning environments step into a new way of working with optimism and relish the opportunity to innovate.
  • Connection and feeling supported are critical safety nets for people to be out of their comfort zones.
  • Compassionate leadership matters when people are vulnerable.
  • Our emotions and cognition are inextricably linked - and we need to look after both. 
  • Cultures that have the ability to deal well with uncertainty and loosening of structure have been thriving. 
  • Leadership is coming from all levels of our staff, if we allow them the opportunity.
  • We are having 'lived experience' of Alvin Toffler's Learn, Unlearn, Relearn context. Being learners has been critical to being able to handle this time well.
  • The three pillars of 'The Buzz' 'growth mindset, compelling environment to learn together and authentic dialogue' are being strengthened by this experience.
  • Collaboration really is 'learning out loud'.
  • Ferocious Warmth leadership is needed now more than ever - connection and psychological safety first, content second.
  • Habit and assumptions (this is the way we do things around here) have never been more ready to challenge!

So here's to the collective efficacy of our school teams and the community - may we capture it, celebrate it and continue to grow it!

As in my previous newsletters Managing Complex Change and The Emotional Pinball of CoVID19, I thank you for the amazing work you continue to do for your students and community. Let me know if you are needing your own support - I am always happy to have a discussion to tease out where your thinking (and feeling!) is at. I'd also love to interview anyone that has got things they would like to share with the world! Let me know at

If you are thinking of next steps for taking the learning forward, I have a 90-minute virtual session available for your leadership teams at a time that suits your school to help you capture the thinking and mindset for the way forward, as well as tools to assist. For more details contact Suzie Leyden, Business Manager -

This 13-minute video (below) with Stephen Kendall-Jones, Principal of Albany Junior High in Auckland discusses how they are approaching designing a new way of providing quality education. Stephen has recently been awarded a Doctorate, so I loved talking with him about evidence-based innovation.
Click here or on the image below.

All the best for the continued journey!

broken image
broken image

Are you a Ferocious Warmth Leader?   A leader who connects heads and hearts? My new book will be out later this year- but until then - here is a whitepaper to whet your appetite. Click on the image to see more