top of page

"Herding Cats" and Change 3.0 (Part 3)

Tolerate "with" me…just a wee bit more In the last post, I think I finished up asking whether it was, in fact, the questions that educational managers (and leaders) ask – that are the real source of many of our “change woes”. I suggested that far too many of them ask the question:

  1. How do we motivate "our people" to change? Rather than some of the more powerful questions that Peter Block suggests we consider:

  1. What is my contribution to the problems I am concerned with?

  2. What refusals have I been postponing?

  3. What commitments am I will to make? Or, the question that Leo Tolstoy sort-of-proposed so many years back:

  1. How do "I" need to change as an educational manager?FUNNY...we don't see these last 4 questions in the preamble of many strategic plans... Organisations do notmanage” or “lead” themselves. Institutions do not write their own strategic plans. Schools, colleges and universities do not choose which of their problems need attentionat the “organisational level”  (formal) educational managers and leaders do all that.

These, as we noted, are just NOT enough. When change agents (or "teams" of change agents) get busy with best practice, planning and management techniques (or systems), they do recognise that “others” are involved – and, as a result, they also look for ways to motivate these “others” (heard the phrase “get them on board” much, lately?)… You CANNOT, as we said earlier, “motivate” anyone - and, it is just plain “dumb” to assume that “others” can be “changed” and that the best laid motivational "carrots" will get you what you want.

  1. Strategic plans are really sexy!

  2. Those new change initiatives really turn me on!

  1. I can’t wait to see how we evaluate the success of this improvement project! This because best practice, planning and management techniques are, essentially, the tools of “incrementalism” – and not very "hot". OK – these things may be a huge "turn-on" to managers and supervisors but that’s usually because they know they will be “evaluated” on the success of their plans, initiatives and projects. Don’t believe me? Try gathering a group of teachers (hey, and a few students, too) and ask them the following:

  1. What really matters to you as a teacher – what should really matter to us as a school?

  2. What should we do to really make a difference to lives of our students?

  3. If you could change one thing to improve student learning and success, what would it be? The vast majority of educators are in the "game" for something else - and it sure ain't the money! For's about purpose, service...and something that just makes it worth it getting out bed in the morning - even when we have the "class from hell" on Monday morning! Teachers (as a "species") have got to feel it's all worth it - we've got to be inspired by what we are doing (and how we do it) and this means we need leadership that makes a real difference to the lives of our students - and, in turn, our lives! The problem in education today is...and I just know someone is gonna put a "hit" out on me soon...not all "educational managers" are terribly well-endowed in the leadership stakes, and not "all of the others" appreciate that their managers just ain't been able to work this out and do something about it! What does real leadership "look like"? Probably, the best description does not come from education at all - not that we like to admit this: