How many committees are there at your school?
How many committees do you think there are at Apple?
I just happened to come across this 2010 interview with Steve Jobs in which he discusses management style. The interview is quite short, but certainly packs a lot of punches! Listening to Jobs, I can’t help but wonder how the Apple business model would fare if it was to be applied in schools.
Just have a read of some of his words:
….. teamwork at the top of the company ….. filters down to tremendous teamwork throughout the company and
teamwork is dependent on trusting the other folks to come through with their part without watching them all the time, trusting that they’re going to come through with their parts ……”
If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions, you have to, you have to be run by ideas not hire them, the best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don’t stay….”
Now have a listen to him saying these words:
Terms used by Jobs are so familiar to educators: collaboration, teamwork, good ideas, trust.
How does it work in your school? How could it work if there was a more open leadership style? How much more effectively could we be as a group of professionals if we were to kick present standards out the door and work together as the kind of ‘start up company’ that Jobs has built?
It’s interesting to ponder, no?
- Collaboration implies working together to achieve a goal. How often do teachers across the school, let alone within departments, end up being at loggerheads with each other? Imagine how effective and unified a teaching staff could be if they all work together? Competitiveness and lack of sharing does not augur well for a unified spirit. Strong leadership from the top of the school can instill collaboration as the modus operandi and thus ensure the achievement of established end goals.
- Teamwork is part of a work culture that values collaboration. For teamwork to be effective and apparent in a school, all teachers have to believe in the missive once put forward by that great philosopher Aristotle: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” A belief that thinking and planning, decisions and actions have a better outcome when performed collaboratively will pay real dividends. Teamwork creates synergy.
- Good ideas are the fodder for growth, discovery and progress! Given the chance to chat, collaborate, share and discuss, good ideas can be the kernel for the development of great programs, techniques, lessons and curriculums. Sadly though, schools are very busy places. Teachers are totally run off their feet tending to a host of necessary, essential, important responsibilities. Good ideas are often shared in between times. Snatches of conversations are held in the corridors on the way to classes or maybe just before silence falls over yet another staff meeting. Wouldn’t it be great to have a meeting dedicated to sharing good ideas? Wouldn’t it be even better to have time to develop those ideas? And wouldn’t it be great to have good ideas valued by the school’s administration? Perhaps, just perhaps, there’s something wrong with the structure of schools which don’t presently incorporate opportunities for sharing, nurturing and implementing good ideas generated by its teachers.
- Trust and belief in the professionalism of teachers in our schools is absolutely essential. I found my ears pricking up at Jobs’ words above:
“trusting the other folks to come through with their part without watching them all the time, trusting that they’re going to come through with their parts ……”
How often have you felt supervisors, department heads or principals breathing down your neck while performing your usual work-a-day routines? Do you suffer from that ‘lack of trust’ feeling? Has accountability gone too far? In some schools teachers are treated by the school administration in much the same manner as teachers treat their classes. Having your deeds watched and judged is very disconcerting. It smacks totally of distrust and does absolutely nothing for ensuring teamwork and collaboration are at the forefront of building a great school.
Perhaps it’s time to step back and take a cold hard look at the structure of our schools. Identifying the stumbling blocks may be quite a healthy kind of stocktake. Modelling our schools on the successful formula of companies such as Apple may not be such a bad idea.