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Thriving Challenge Cultures

Even in adversity, can we still have a culture that is bold, joyful and exciting?

I know everyone is doing it tough at the moment and my heart felt thanks goes out to every single educator at the moment. Staff shortages, mental overwhelm and burnout are a common theme. But despite all this negativity, it is still possible to have a shining light, to create a culture that may not be buzzing, but at least has a hum growing.

A challenge culture has a buzz in the air of learning and curiosity. Many people have experienced a challenge culture that could really be renamed a conflict culture - people armed and ready to fight for their opinion to be the one that wins. Resistance, closed minds and territorialism reign. 

In a thriving challenge culture, we step into poking our status quo, our assumptions and 'the way we've always done it' with anticipation rather than fear. There's also a bit of thrill about putting things under the debate and design lens.

Does your culture experience the joy of challenging the status quo together?

Here are a couple of things that may help:

1) Give yourselves permission to adopt a challenger stance all together

Drawing from the brilliant Edward De Bono's 6 thinking hat approach, everyone takes on the challenger stance together and goes crazy discussing all the things that need challenging. These might come from:

  • Frameworks
  • Processes and policies
  • Beliefs we hold about our practice, or our stakeholders

All sorts of interesting and curious insights arise from this discussion.

2) Drop the 'y'

Challenge cultures don't challenge the person, but the thinking. Instead of saying 'I'd like to challenge your thinking' say 'Can we challenge our thinking here?' That one little letter makes all the difference. 

 3) Drop the need to be right

Being right all the time is exhausting... spend some time assuming you're wrong and open up to other ideas and approaches.

4) Play lightly!

Curious, playful and exploring cultures shift and transform in ways that entrenched and oh-so-serious ones can only look over at with envy.

Tracey is excited to have recently launched the Buzz Academy, an online community for schools and teams who are interested in creating a thriving professional learning culture. It offers resources, activities and access to a global community that will help build your school’s professional learning culture and growth, gain committed collaboration from your team, and realise your school’s potential. Join now or start a 7 day free trial at