Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

So we’ve been talking a lot about school culture over these last few weeks, and it’s not hard to see the importance that we’re placing on this as we roll out our new strategic plan. We value it so much that we devoted our first Professional Development day to it, as we came together as a full faculty to address the cultural pieces that need our attention…and what a great day it was! I’ve been reading, researching, and thinking so much about school culture of late, and I keep coming back to a quote that is generally attributed to Peter Drucker, who once said “culture eats strategy for breakfast!”. Well, with regards to school culture, I tend to agree with him because in my experience you can have the most well thought-out, current, and research-based strategies in place, but without the right culture and relationships they won’t get off the ground.

I remember several years ago for example in a different organization, we spent a considerable amount of time, money, and energy implementing Professional Learning Communities into our school, and we were all tremendously excited. In many cases however, this initiative didn’t take like we had hoped because the culture and relationships weren’t right, or ready for what these PLC’s demanded of us. Many of the grade level teams and departments didn’t have the trust…or courage…or collaborative mindset to share student data, admit areas of professional growth, or to put their ego aside for the sake of student learning. Getting the culture right is absolutely the place to start for us because it underpins everything else as I see it. Sustainable change is all about trust…and relationships…not only with each other but with the parent community, and of course our students. We’ve struggled here at AC over the past few years because of the lack of continuity that we’ve had with leadership, as well as with teacher retention. It’s next to impossible to accomplish anything worthwhile when you have administrators and teachers coming and going, and new ideas and strategies being implemented each and every year. It’s also not hard for veteran teachers of the school to become cynical and jaded with an attitude of here we go again…and I get it. The difference this time is that the people who are committed and devoted to seeing this strategic plan through are going to be here for at least 5 years, and that in itself will help immeasurably.

We have time as a school to go slow with the process because as you all know, the one thing that sustainable change needs is time. We have all of these wonderful ideas and strategies that we’re excited to roll out and implement but we understand that the culture has to be right before the foundation is stable enough to start building up. We are going to put the time and money and energy into developing and fostering school culture over the next couple of years, and as that starts to cement, we will begin to see our school moving from good to great. So, I agree with Peter Drucker’s statement in many ways, but I also agree with another quote that I read last week from Ken Favaro, who said, “don’t let culture eat strategy for breakfast…let them feed each other”. We are in such an enviable position as a school community because we have the right people on the bus so to speak…we have the passion, the expertise, the professional understanding, and the hunger to see this through…and we have the strategies ready to go. We won’t roll them out however until the time is right, and the culture is where we want it to be.

We’ll develop trust with each other, we’ll develop a student voice, we’ll inspire and engage the parent community, and we’ll commit ourselves to doing what to takes to keeping you all around over the next few years. Continuity is key…relationships rule…and trust trumps all! We’re off to an amazing start everyone, but like I said on Wednesday, this is the easy and fun part…the hard work is coming quick…so let’s get ready, roll up our sleeves, and rely on each other. Student learning is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…and our blue sky future. Let’s do the heavy lifting together for their sake and ours! Have a fantastic week everyone, and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

 Quote of the Week….

Culture eats strategy for breakfast! – Peter Drucker

 Great Video About Attitude – Apollos Hester

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7ymriMhoj0

Important Video About Connecting With Each Other –

http://blog.petflow.com/a-video-everyone-needs-to-see/

The Importance of Culture Articles –

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/peter-drucker/

http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/12/culture-eats-strategy-for-breakfast/

http://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/culture/organisational-culture-eats-strategy-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner/

http://www.strategy-business.com/blog/Strategy-or-Culture-Which-Is-More-Important?gko=26c64

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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