Sunday, March 13, 2011

How many F's are on your report card?

I recently attended the Systems Thinking in Schools conference sponsored by the Ritenour School District, the Water's foundation and Washington University in St. Louis' school of social work.  

The conference was awesome and if you can schedule some time to visit this conference it is worth your time, effort and energy.  The coolest thing about this conference is meeting people doin the work of systems thinking from all over the world.  I met people from Canada, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, it was truely a global conference.

The "F's"
Friday night's keynote session was from Dr. Andy Hargreaves.  It was EPIC.  Dr. Hargreaves was motivational, challenging and a fantastic speaker and presenter.  His new book is called "The Fourth Way" will cause readers to reimagine how people consider social and educational reform.

Andy Hargreaves presented on 15 F's that are the  "F"oundation of moving your organization (or school) to achieving "Beyond Expectations."  These F's are all characteristics of organizations that have been proven through research to be successful through many variables.  How many "F's" are on your leader or organization's report card?

15 factors that make your organization perform beyond expectations

The Fantastic Dream - MLK didn’t say I have a strategic plan...
    • If you want to be number 1, you won’t stay number one for long. You have to know what you want to be and why you want to be it.
    • Most leaders think it’s all about being faster, better, greater, but they do not know why they want that?!
    • Finland decided that they want “ALL our people to be inventive,” does the american education system have a "why?"
The Fear
    • Successful leaders and successful business march to the beat of a different drummer. As leaders we have to be okay with being different. The fear of being different and the accepting of that fact can become the motivation that creates greatness. When you reach that moment of fear, as a leader do you fight or flight?
    • Leaders fight for what they believe in. Great companies don't stand for good, they fight for great. Fighting is not for something or against someone, it's that internal perseverance to overcome adversity.
    • You will not achive your dream without opposition.
    • A great question is how far are we willing to let something fall while we fight for what we beleive in. For example in education: How much are we prepared to let our scores fall as we engage in this innovation!?
Fundamental Futures - Connect where you are going to where you have been!
    • Your vision and your future is connected to the past. Do you or your leaders recognize that? There is this trend in business and education looking for the silver bullet but there is no simple silver bullet for solving complex problems or creating successful organization.
    • There are three types of leaders in this world:
      1. People who have been there for ages and KNOW the culture of the community, the business and the customers.
      2. People who have been there as an assistant and move into the number 1 spot
      3. Parodical leader - use to work in the organization, left, but is still loyal and came back to lead.
Firm Foundations
    • Charismatic leaders that can't let go of their leadership. Successful organizations and schools have leaders that welcome the strength of those around them.
    • Before every charismatic leader is always an unsung, unheralded leaders that set the systems in place for success.
    • Creating firm foundations means connecting your beliefs about leadership to what you do in your organization. If that connection cant be made success may not be because of your leadership.
    • Don’t give up, get work done!
    • As leaders how do you treat the lowest status people in the community and at your organization?
    • Successful leaders and organizations have little trouble going into the darkest places to show that success can be achieved.
Counter"f"low - It' an F...sort of.
    • Be the fish swimming upstream. As a leader you must be willing to be different and go against the grain. Great organizations do the ordinary extraordinarily well.
    • Leaders don't shy away from resitance or that person that doesn't like you very much. Great organizations meet resistance head on. Successful leaders have fun solvin problems.
    • Love this quote from Dr. Hargreaves: "Great leaders like to perform uphill and against the wind."
    • Great leaders think outside of the box, while performing well inside the box.

Fast and Fair tracking

    • Short term targets with long term goals. The short term goals make the fast progress happen.
    • Fair means providing what students, coworkers need and leaders must exhibit flexible creative behavior to meet the needs of the organization or the classroom.
    • Great leaders set targets with their employees.
    • Does what we measure (test scores, productivity bottom line) reflect what we value instead of valuing what we measure?
Feasible growth
    • Great leaders set attainable goals. They remain focused on achieving objectives. Create measurable and sustainable change. THey are focused on meaningful growth and control it using systems to ensure quality is not lost in quantity.
High Fidelity
    • Great leaders fight for a cause that is bigger than themselves and their organization and all decisions and changes they make are done with that cause in mind.
    • When the going gets tough, when the bumps start to happen does your school or organization pull together, or splinter off? Great leaders create a team that stays strong.
Flair, flow, and flexibility
    • Great organizations have employees that never say "No - that’s not my job."
    • Great leaders create employees that are passionate about what they do.
    • Great leaders create employees that go with the flow.
    • Great leaders create employees that can do what is asked of them.
    • Great leaders don’t get too big for their boots.
    • Great leaders embrace failure! (not catastrophe of course)
    • Great organizations realize that if everything they are doing is all safe the organization is not innovating.
Friendly rivalry
    • Great organizations support "coopertition."
    • Great organizations invest heavily in their competition.
    • Great organizations and leaders recognize the need of the community is greater than the need of the one school or shop.
    • In England you have to spend 20% of your time HELPING other schools.
    • Great leaders have a strong belief and a MORAL responsibility to help the weak.
Fusion Leadership
    • Leadership is not a bunch of competencies or knowledge you can collect.
    • The Fusion must be through systems thinking
      1. Inner fusion of character styles and competencies
      2. With colleagues, ecologially diverse, surrounding yourself with people who are different than you.
      3. Fusion must happen over time.



  1. Great list and compilation here McGee! This is a nice check list for all leaders, and really serves as a great reminder of what we are doing and how we should be doing it.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. A well summarizes article which can be rarely seen.