Friday, March 4, 2016

Why implementation and initiative are dirty words in EDU

I have spent a lot of time talking to people lately about how they implemented a program and started an initiative.  My initial thought used to be, "tell me about it!"  or "that sounds awesome!"  And then I realized that implementation and initiative are bad words in education.

Both words mean that you are basically forcing or gatekeeping something to another group of people.
Don't use "implementation" or "initiative" because to me they mean:

Implementation

We have a program you are going to love and all we need to do is convince you that if you will agree with us then you will see the proverbial "light" and join us in our excitement.  No need to discuss to much extent, we are just looking for "buy-in"

Initiative

We have this great idea and if you don't jump on now you are going to miss the boat.  What is wrong with you? This is new and exciting!  We are innovative and we know this is going to be the next thing for the next 3 years!



To me, both are scary in the lack of involvement.  I prefer to go with vision, common language, interest based decision making, inspiration, and movement.  

I will not define all of them, but here is the short and sweet to how these can exist together:

So as a leader you have an idea, or you know that a particular change is good for "our kids".

DON'T ASK FOR THE POWER POINT AND THEN JUST REGURGITATE IT TO STAFF! 

MOVEMENT HAS NEVER STARTED WITH A POWER POINT!!!

That immediately becomes implementation and initiative!  

DON'T ASK SOMEONE FROM THE OUTSIDE TO INTRODUCE IT!!!

That tells staff that you are not invested yourself, that you are just buying something or someone to do your work. 

You may need outside trainers to help your movement, but the initial grabbing of interest/emotion needs to be done authentically from the leadership or teachers in the building.  Backchannel, flip some of the thoughts, have meetings with school leadership for pulse, but spread the idea grassroots at first, for people to process.  I use Youtube sometimes for this with silly videos.  



Then just develop the common language and movement together.  Tell staff the truth.  This is an open road.  You and they trust that the product that you create within the idea of the Vision, is the best roadmap for where you are going.  You might need a program or outside ideas to help you, but start internal.  It is a simple twist, but to empower, you need people to see ideas, process, and then have the ability to develop the details together.  You also struggle with them, realize you don't have all the answers, but are also able to assist with some things, because you are invested.  

If you just tell people what to do, they won't.  If you just tell people it is awesome without getting consensus, they won't believe you.  Even with this mindset, I have had many ideas that I thought would take off and they did not... I think humble pie may be my favorite dessert now! I thank my staff #cddolphins for dishing it out to me when needed and when I am feeling overly hungry for it! 

Know that not everything will work, but the process is important, live it, don't take shortcuts, and don't live on your status/position to think you will create movement. It won't happen, and you will be left with a population of people that smile at you and then talk about you behind your back. 




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