This week’s riff:

Following on from last week’s post about the new, higher standard SATs that my 11-year old son will soon be sitting, I was talking to a client about her son’s school. The new tests mean that 99% of schools fail to get all of their pupils to the ‘required’ standard in all subjects. But the school my client’s son attends is in the 1%. All the pupils at that school have achieved the target grades, despite it having its fair share of “statemented” children. (i.e. those children with specific learning or behavioural difficulties).

As we talked further, it became clear that the head teacher of that school has taken a very different approach to achieving these educational goals. Her actions include creating an ‘army’ of (mainly retired) volunteers who help teach the children in small groups of 4-6 pupils on specific topics. Setting aside one day each week to entirely focus the whole school on music. And being willing to change a day’s teaching plan for the entire school if something interesting happens.

In other words, she has focused on the goal, rather than the generally accepted processes, in delivering her pupils’ education. There is plenty of evidence that creativity is increased in constrained environments. It seems that this head teacher’s creativity has been unleashed by the constraints that her budget, curriculum and other external expectations have placed on her.

As I work with my clients I see major differences between those managers who embrace constraints and seek creative solutions to their issues, and those who simply throw their hands up in the air and say that nothing can be done without more money, or better systems, or more people. The only real differences between these two types of leader are their attitudes and perceptions. But I’m sure I don’t need to tell you which group delivers the better results!

What about your organization? Do your managers use the constraints they face as an excuse for poor performance? Or as a springboard to higher levels of creativity and superior results?

Off The Record: The Logical Song by Supertramp

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful

A miracle

Oh, it was beautiful, magical


© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.