Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Culture of Innovation

I discovered the second session of the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course (#IMMOOC on Twitter) while reading George Couros’ The Principal of Change blog recently.  I’d been wanting to read his book, The Innovator’s Mindset, for a while now and it seemed like a great way to both read the book and connect with others while doing so. The book discusses what innovation is and isn’t. It also explores what it takes to build a culture of innovation. Bonus: one of the tasks assigned in the course is to blog each week. That ties into one of my personal goals so here we go!

I’ll begin by admitting that I had a concept of what it meant to be innovative but I actually looked up the definition of the word to be sure. Innovative: having new ideas about how something can be done. Thank you Merriam-Webster. George defines innovation “as a way of thinking that creates something new and better.” So to have an innovator’s mindset one is willing to think about and test out new methods for doing something and making it better.
During this past summer, I attended a workshop in Human Centered Design, a process that involves observing and learning from the people that you are designing for, identifying opportunities and prototyping possible solutions, and then bringing those prototypes back to those people to try out and give feedback on. The cycle of iteration. The entire process of human-centered design always keeps those that you are designing for in the forefront of the process. There are no bad ideas in the design process just opportunities to improve on and/or combine ideas to discover the best possible solution. One is always looking for ways to improve and do it better but always with people at the center. Sounds much like innovation!

So how do we support our innovative educators and build on what they’re doing and spread the enthusiasm for what they are doing throughout the school? Those in leadership positions must model the very innovation that they want to see. For example, if there was a collective decision to become a G-Suite for Education school because of the many ways it allows for collaboration and sharing, then use the Google tools in your work as an administrator. Don’t keep using the very tools that you’ve asked your educators to move away from. Get in the trenches and work through the sometimes painful process of change with them. So what if you share a Google Doc only to discover you gave everyone editing rights instead of view only rights and someone made a change when you weren’t looking. Consider it a great opportunity to learn about the revision history!
Take risks with teachers so they know it’s ok to take risks in their classroom. Be in the classroom with them to see the process and when something fails, help them brainstorm ways to move forward. It’s about listening more than talking, it’s about being empathic and understanding. It’s about relationships. It’s about change. It’s about serving teachers and students and providing them the tools to grow.

1 comment:

  1. This all makes so much sense. I love how you talk about leaders modeling the work. I know that it would help me as a classroom educator to know what my admin wanted me to be focusing on if they modeled it. Great post cant wait to read more.