Tag Archive for management

Systems Thinking

Photo by zachstern

Today, Debbie Freed taught us about systems thinking, a framework for understanding school conflict and dilemmas through their underlying causes. She urged us to identify: 1) what is the presenting issue; 2) what is the real issue; 3) why now? Issues framed in terms of personalities are nearly always  reflective of systems conditions within a school. Is the presenting issue really the issue or just a symptom of a deeper issue? Who did a new staff member replace? Who really makes decisions within the school? How does the school’s history inform current conflicts? How do people’s belief systems inform our understanding of conflicts?

For some reason, I have thought of schools in this way for a long time. My introduction to Catlin Gabel helped deepen this understanding, as I found myself on the wrong side of a staff replacement scenario and learned to understand the place of the technology department within a complex web of decision-making entities.

Debbie encourages us to first understand ourselves and what role we play within the system. Leaders should define reality, in opposition to crisis. Leaders should exercise clarity, articulation, and alignment. People rise to the occasion when they know their purpose, role and are held accountable. Often missing from schools are effective accountability measures (e.g., evaluation and professional development), due to a culture norm of conflict avoidance.

My favorite quote of the day: “some people think that shared decision-making means that you make a decision and then share it!”

Leading from the Middle

I am attending this seminar organized by the Santa Fe Leadership Center, whom I help as an advisor. We have had a great first day and a half. Carla Silver, Tim McIntyre, and Gary Gruber know how to create the group dynamic and space for reflection and individual growth. Many participants have come with a colleague from their school, creating the potential for solid work when they return to their schools.

We have explored concepts of leadership as they relate to our personal histories and profiles. We have heard seasoned veterans provide perspective on the essence of leadership and the unique dynamic of middle management in an independent school. We have been instructed on the importance of relationships, particularly with our institute cohort.

Mark Silver encouraged us to: 1) play position; 2) leverage informal authority; 3) build alliances. We explored Lencioni’s five dysfunctions of teams and Tuckman’s stages of group development. We revisited the importance of personal relationships and trust for professional work and the positive qualities of well-functioning teams.

Tomorrow and Wednesday, we hear from The Grove about visual planning and IDEO about the design process.

360° Review

Here is a pretty interesting comment on the use of 360° reviews for performance assessment.

A study on the patterns of rater accuracy shows that length of time that a rater has known the person being rated has the most significant effect on the accuracy of a 360-degree review. The study shows that subjects in the group “known for one to three years” are the most accurate, followed by “known for less than one year,” followed by “known for three to five years” and the least accurate being “known for more than five years.” The study concludes that the most accurate ratings come from knowing the person long enough to get past first impressions, but not so long as to begin to generalize favorably (Eichinger, 2004).

Wikipedia article on 360° reviews