Redesigning How the Job Gets Done

Posted by Gabe Soumakian on November 8, 2010

It’s hitting us all like a ton of bricks.  Our state is in a financial mess.  The 2010 Budget is put together with smoke and mirrors.  The technology in our districts is aging yet no funds are in sight for replacement. NCLB accountability is getting more challenging as the required proficiency levels increase.  Predictions indicate a staggering number of superintendents and principals will retire in 2011.  We have already eliminated as many positions as we can.  Those of us who remain must adapt to the new normal and, at the same time, somehow promote a culture of innovation that will help us survive with limited resources.

Clearly, we can’t continue to do our work the same way we we’ve done it in the past.  We need some new ideas!  Here are some concepts I’ve come across that hold a lot of promise as we struggle to redesign the future of work, work processes, and learn to manage our resources differently through the greatest era of change in our lifetime.

  • Content, Process, and Relationship.  Content is what you want to achieve.  Process is how and why you do the work or achieve your goal. Relationship is about the networking and the people skills for getting the work done.  Most people usually know the what, but struggle with the how and why.  Success depends on getting all three right.
  • Adaptive Leadership.  Clearly defined problems with known solutions can be tackled through the current structures and systems in an organization.  However when challenges arise that require a new mindset and new ways of thinking and working, an organization needs adaptive leadership that mobilizes people and units that frequently have different needs, priorities and perspectives toward new ways of working and ways of thinking.
  • Culture of Change and Innovation.  No lesser an institution than the U.S. Army is talking “adapt or die.”  We will do well to consider these very intense but great lessons regarding process versus product: “Process is important, but excessive focus on process versus product significantly impedes innovation.”
  • Student-Centric Education.  Clay Christensen, in his book Disrupting Class, challenges our thinking for how technology, learning, and assessment will change how schools are organized and how student-centric education will be the future.
  • Twenty Percent Time.   Google allows its employee to use one day a week to innovate and create their own projects or applications related to Google’s overall mission.  Many of Google’s new products have come from employees experimenting during this twenty percent time.  What if we were to allow our students and teachers to use one day a week to be innovative and creative within the desired curriculum.  What would learning in a classroom look like?
  • Creativity is Extraordinary.  Dewitt Jones defines creativity as “the ability to look at the ordinary and see the extraordinary.”  Finding the first right answer is just doing your job; looking for the extraordinary redefines your purpose and mission through creativity.
  • Knowledge Sharing, Social Networking and Collaboration.  The maxim, “To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research,” has been attributed to Wilson Mizner.  You can’t be an expert on everything,  so set up a network to share and exchange ideas.  Post a problem and you’ll be surprised how quickly your colleagues provide ideas and solutions.  ACSA Region XV Human Resources Council uses AirSet for collaboration. Admin 2.0 is designed by TICAL especially for administrators.   Social bookmarking sites such as Diigo and Delicious are also great tools for sharing and for researching topics previously reviewed using specific research terms.
  • Cloud Computing.  Get away from your hard drive and desktop and venture into mobile computing by living in the clouds.  Cloud computing allows you to access your files, process data, and use applications from anywhere, anytime, anyplace.  This will be the next generation of instructional technology that will be driven by its cost effectiveness and minimal IT support.
  • Print on Demand.   Are you still printing a stack of documents and keeping them in a file? Print on demand allows you to lower your cost by printing what you need when you need it.  By the way, do you really need to print it?  Save or scan your documents as pdf’s, then bookmark them in a web folder for access anywhere by anyone to whom you give permission.

Now’s your chance!  What would you add to the list?  We all learn from each other, so we want to hear your ideas and solutions.