The key word is ‘system’

I read with interest an interesting article this afternoon titled 10 Lessons in Developing a Cohesive Leadership System in a a National Staff Development Council JSD article that summarises what is being learned along the way as Iowa works toward implementing a cohesive leadership system for school administrators. It includes a description of the scaffold of supports that has been developed to equip leaders in progressing to meet the learning needs of every student in Iowa.

One of the ten lessons in particular attracted my attention:

As I reflect on the impact of various politically-initiated initiatives on the education system in New Zealand, in Australia and the UK,the common thread appears to be reform based on a series of targeted interventions – some of which are on a huge scale, but all of which are driven by an ideology that fails, in my view, to be fully supported by a comprehensive, end-to-end approach in their thinking.

While it is easy to sit back and poke borax at political leaders for this sort of failure, we’d do well to consider that it can also be a problem at the local level. In our schools and our regional connections, we must make sure that each intervention we introduce is thought through to ensure that all of the other things it is likely to impact on have been taken into account.

At times I can’t help but wonder where the ‘big picture’ thinking is – where is the ‘joined-up’ system thinking and analysis, that is reflected in the  local and national level policies. The lesson from Iowa is one we do well to reflect on…

Changing only one part of the system while not addressing all of the others that impact the work would be wasted energy.

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