Friday, 27 June 2014

Are you a disruptor?

Last week I had the privilege to attend the Independent Schools of New Zealand conference in Auckland to hear a range of inspirational speakers. A common theme that ran through the keynote and plenary presentations was the idea of disruption. This was framed around change and the demands change places on our school leaders in terms of preparing learners for life in our ever changing world.

Peter Biggs challenged leaders to disrupt, to act as the disruptor before they and their schools are disrupted. He referred to a world of change and ‘disorder’ where we need to rethink to connect. In other words we need to be very aware of the world around us, to perceive current trends and new possibilities, to see change coming. Besides dealing with our current reality a critical part of leadership is to foresee the future - to create, to innovate, to take risks, to experiment, to be courageous and brave, to create the culture within our schools that will enable us to achieve the future that will meet the needs of our students / community.

Frances Valentine continued this theme as she explored how advancement of technology and digital devices has created disruption, identifying Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon as the four key disruptors in education. She challenged the audience to rethink their processes and systems, to ask themselves who they needed to get close to and then get with these disruptors and consider:

  • What is changing? 
  • What is driving the change? 
  • What are the implications for us? 
  • How do we predict / plan for this change? 
  • What research / data is available? 
  • Supply and demand

Dr. Lester Levy asked leaders to identify the time they spent on identifying risk as opposed to exploring new possibilities. He made the statement that focusing on risk can stifle innovation and creativity. As leaders how do we frame up discussions to enable disruption, foster creativity and innovation? How do we avoid new ideas and initiatives being lost in realm of risk or difficult logistics? He encouraged leaders to be ‘open’ to be disciplined and promote dialogue for the initial conversation where negative comments, bias and assumptions were put aside. Using the ‘art of possibility’ to explore feasibility and provide opportunities to disrupt, refresh and possibly reconfigure.

So as a leader are you a disruptor?

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