The Valley & The Compass

Photo by  Casey Horner  on  Unsplash  / When your school undertakes an innovation journey, you will have to descend into a valley. How will you navigate that gap?

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash / When your school undertakes an innovation journey, you will have to descend into a valley. How will you navigate that gap?

One of the greatest challenges to school innovation is a virtually invisible gap.

And even when we see it, we often ignore that gap or try to rationalize it away.

In a best case scenario, your school has a Board of Trustees aligned with school leadership.

In this best case scenario, you all share a commitment to your school's Mission--its timeless reason for existence.

In this best case scenario, you also share a commitment to a specific Vision--a timely illustration of how your community will fulfill your Mission in more powerful and relevant ways.

But even in this best case scenario, there is always a gap.

On the pre-innovation side of the gap: Mission + Vision. 

On the other side of the gap: Strategies and Tactics (often captured in a strategic plan document).

The only way to get from one side to the other is to undertake an innovation journey.

This journey will require you to descend into the valley, a chasm that lies between where you are now and where you want to go.

Once you descend into that gap, you'll discover that things are confusing. There is no straight line between Mission > Vision and Strategies > Tactics.

Even worse, your map was outdated before you finished drawing it, because rapid change makes maps obsolete.

You have a North Star--your Vision--to guide you in the correct general direction... but it won't tell you when to turn left, turn right, turn around, go straight, or step to the side.

To navigate the twists and the turns in this gap, you'll need a compass.

The good news is that the right kind of compass will get you to your destination. The bad news is that you can't find that compass on a shelf, in a store, or in a book--you have to build it yourself.

What is that compass? Culture.

Specifically, the right kind of Culture for your Vision.

It is never easy to design a new Culture. And if you're on an innovation journey, headed to a new destination, something has to change, because "What got us here won't get us there."

At Malvern Prep, our compass was (and remains) a Culture of adaptive teaming.

What kind of Culture do you need to bring your Vision to life?

Remember: your Mission depends on it.


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