August 19, 2016

Two Kinds of Schools

My wife and I are deeply invested in our kids' lives and therefore their education. If you know us, you know how involved we are in their schools–especially Brooke. We believe that a better education experience for everyone means a better education for our own kids. We have always been willing to roll up our sleeves and help make that happen. So, what follows comes from someone that really cares and is willing to back up words with effort–someone that has spent a lot of time in many different kinds of schools. But, really, all that should matter is this: I'm a parent.

Yesterday, I visited two kinds of schools. Both types of schools have been successful. Yet, both have apparently forgotten what made them successful.

In one scenario, a type of school has forgotten who it is they serve. If you have forgotten who you serve, you're no longer enticing to those who might potentially want your service. You put people on the front line of service who don't understand who it is you serve. They don't value those people. Those people go away. Your success is now your failure.

In another scenario, a type of school has forgotten how to scale up success. Success at one level never ensures success at another level. In this scenario, those that made something overwhelming desirable are not making the decisions on managing the response. The ingenuity and creativity it required to thrive at one level is required for making the transition to a new scale. If you shirk it, redirect or ignore those that are so excited about what you've achieved... Your success is now your failure.

If you want to grow, you have to know who it is you serve.

If you want to thrive, you have to answer the question: What happens if this works?

One last thing: never lead with the process, lead with the goal. The process is not the vision. It will not inspire, it is not enticing. School's are notorious for leading with the process. It is one of the most mind-numbing, infuriating exposures of how rudderless school's can be. Lead with the goal and then offer a map (process) for getting there.

One (really) last thing: this is not simply a school thing. Churches often do this as well. Yes, ultimately you serve God but if the people that darken your door don't feel valued, they're not coming back. And if folks respond positively to what God is doing in your congregation, you better be thinking about what happens if they start telling their friends.