Issue Two 2016
GILL TINEY What is the most important lesson we can teach our children?
JUSTIN ROBBINS Schools need genuine open communication and here's why.
COLIN NEWLYN DAVE NYSS
Work is changing, education must follow
Can learning to chase our dreams make us more productive?
Taking a look at a key Collaborator in the community: ALAN BROWN, THE SCHOOL PEOPLE
Published by BeCollaboration™, 21 Victoria Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 4JZ UK Issue 2, first published on 27th Sept 2016. All rights reserved. Copyright © BeCollaboration™ and Contributors, 2016 While aligned to the vision and values of BeCollaboration™, the views expressed here are soley those of the contributors and are not expressions of policy on behalf of the BeCollaboration™ leadership.
For more details about The Quest and about BeCollaboration™, visit our website at www. becollaboration.com. You can contact the team by writing to email@example.com, or to one of the contributors whose contact emails can be found at the end of their articles. The Quest is a publication platform open to members of BeCollaboration™ to contribute to major debates and issues of concern. Operating within the UK economy, and part of a global economic system, contributors to The Quest hold a big picture. They are personally involved with complex issues that require the skills and intent of many to solve. They are on a passionate, sometimes a lifelong search, to secure change in the world and as such hold a great responsibility for benefitting future generations. BeCollaboration™ believes in working for a world where every individual has the opportunity to be the best they can be: where we are empowered to recognize and honour our ‘innate genius’, exploit our full potential and make our dreams real. We seek a world where business and work are designed to meet a Human need for respect, to be valued, to achieve and to contribute to others. Most of all we seek a world where everyone has the opportunity to have their voice heard and make a positive difference to the planet and humanity. 2
C O N T E N T S
About the contributors Editorial Schools need genuine open communication and here's why Justin Robbins Work is changing, education must follow Colin Newlyn What is the most important lesson we can teach our children? Gill Tiney Can learning to chase our dreams make us more productive? David Nyss Collaborator profile: Alan Brown: The School People
About our contributors Justin Robbins From an early age, Justin always had a passion for writing stories. After leaving university, he spent 20 years in various Marketing and Communication roles helping companies to tell their stories. He cofounded Fit2Communicate in 2014, along with his business partner Karen Dempster, with the intention of helping schools and smaller businesses to succeed through improving how they communicate. Their book, “Building Communication Success in Schools”, is due to be published later this year. Justin is currently part of the government led task force ‘Engage For Success’ leading a group that is looking at how to raise engagement levels in the education sector. He is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and holds a postgraduate diploma in internal communication management. Always seeking challenge, he has been an active triathlete since 1996, has completed five Ironman distance races to date and represented GB at the world long distance triathlon championships in 2013. He is also a qualified triathlon coach and mentor and is passionate about helping people and businesses to achieve their dreams
Dave Nyss Dave began his successful career in the IT services sector as a techie geek, exploring many different roles including as a Projects Director for a leading FST250 IT Services company. Dave now uses his wealth of practical experience in building complex solutions and managing large teams to advise entrepreneurs and business owners on how best to create portals and apps that enable rapid business growth. Dave is also an accomplished coach and has run innovative workshops to teach primary school children how to be positive about learning. With his intimate knowledge of how to coach people Dave believes many technology solutions on offer today actually get in the way of true productivity and is on a mission to create a new breed of portal and apps that enable better collaboration and support highly productive behaviour. Dave is a keen cyclist and is currently writing a book on mindset training aim at amateur cyclists who aim to ride hills better or have a go at more adventurous multi-day cycling events.
Colin Newlyn At the end of a career in marketing and product development that wandered from telecoms to the city, Colin found himself jaundiced by modern management methods and an increasingly toxic organisational environment, seeing these as unnecessarily cruel and largely counter-productive. He is passionate about making the workplace to be a human-centred and nourishing environment and works with organisations that are pursuing this, helping them to reap the bonus of increased employee engagement, productivity and profitability. As founder of After the Mothership, he also works with people who are finding the transition from the corporate world to a new lifestyle as challenging as he did and helping them achieve it faster.
Gill Tiney Gill Tiney is known for creating networks and communities using her unique style of coaching and a combination of communication skills to help people come together to achieve outstanding results. Having been in business for nearly 30 years she has experienced both bust and boom and knows from personal experience that we create our futures. Part of her success stems from being fortunate enough to have the right team around her, making both collaboration and learning a reality. As an author and speaker she has travelled the world sharing her philosophies and is passionate about making sure we give our next generation every opportunity to excel and be prepared for the changing world before them.
Since the last issue of The Quest we have been treated to a flurry of comment, derision and outright anger at an announcement by the new (unelected Prime Minister) Teresa May. She has decided in her wisdom to focus on the re-introduction of Grammar schools in the UK, (possibly as a diversionary tactic from the mayhem caused by the EU referendum). Yet her decision does feel very personal. Her reasons for focussing on Grammar’s seems to stem from an unwavering belief in the benefits of a society based on “meritocracy” rather than privilege. She has a point. Part of me sympathises with this approach. My father, the grandson of a Derbyshire miner and a very bright and inquisitive boy, grew up with few options to escape the mind-numbing routines of employment during the 1940’s, other than grammar school. It gave him the lift, the chance to show his talents, and eventually he became an engineer working on the radio-wave technologies for a tech firm in Harlow. Yes Harlow, the town that has recently been in the news for something far more tragic than Teresa May’s personal obsession. The murder of a Polish man at the hands of feral youth in the Stow shopping centre a few weeks ago solicited responses from one of the worlds most respected NGOs, Human Rights Watch, who, on their front banner page had the appalling event firmly linked to the fall-out from Brexit and the rise in hate crimes. Those closer to the forgotten communities of the New Town know that is only a surface expression of profound rejection by the system, of generations of neglect, of cuts to public services and especially the police who despite pleas from the locals, apparently turned a blind eye to the actions of that group of teenagers over many months. How are these events connected? As a person who grew up in Harlow and was educated in the comprehensive system of the 60’s and 70’s, I know how bad the education on offer was. I was fortunate in that I had one amazing teacher (who was subsequently honoured by the Queen for services to education) and that helped a lot. Without her, I would never have even thought about going to university. I was offered and took the 11-plus, but the conditioning of my town was such that the prospect of suddenly losing all my friends and becoming so separate from them was too much, and I purposely failed the test. I was “streamed” at school into the “smart kids” class, and we all did our best to avoid highlighting our status, helped by the fact that the school disbanded the most troublesome class and placed borstal candidates in ours. This was the essence of comprehensive social mobility: put the children from troubled backgrounds the ones that had stabbed, been arrested for arson, or become pregnant – in with the “knobs”. Did it change anything?I can honestly say I do not know. I think it changed something for the school. It did not particularly improve our education: we still had the same teachers, the same curriculum and the same prospects (bank, factory or health-work). What it did do was teach me to understand threatening behaviour, and how social systems work. 5
[Editorial - continued]
Grammar schools in the 21st Century are so far away from an answer to the problems we face as a society, as it is possible to get. The systemic causes of our problems in the UK, and in most western economies derives in part from a model of education that is no longer appropriate; of a profession that is so chronically abused and underfunded it is impossible to retain the talent necessary to educate properly; of a paradigm that prepares a child for the economy, not for Life; and where the effects of social exclusion - generations deep â€“ result in the murder of a man because he speaks differently. We need a government, and we need politicians that are willing and able to deal with these problems from a place of knowledge and understanding, not from a place of ideological dogma or wishful thinking. The problems are too big, and the price we are already paying is way too high. We are all children of this system, and each one of us has felt the effects of it and learned ways to work around it, and to find their place somewhere. Yet we all have to demand a higher standard from those who seek to influence social policy in the UK and each one of the contributors to this issue sees a way to do just that. From a far more integrated approach to listening in schools (Justin Robbins), to revolutionizing our approach to child centred education (Gill Tiney). And these are big problems, that demand big solutions, something that Dave Nyss persuades us means learning to solve problems by looking outside our own glass box. Yet the tide is already moving and the world of work has already evolved way beyond what any of us remember as teenagers leaving school. And it is this new paradigm that Colin Newlyn suggests is the one that educators and organizations have to get to grips with if we are to truly come to grips with problems in a world that is more complex, more inhuman, and more demanding of inner resilience than ever.
About the The Quest Team The Quest is produced by the BeCollaborationâ„˘ Digital Team and is made possible by, you guessed it, collaboration. For marketing and communications, our huge thanks go to Scott Campbell of Affecting Peoples Lives scott@affectingpeopleslives. com For concept design, layout and art, our warmest gratitude to Angela Makepeace of Angela Makepeace Motion Graphics Studio firstname.lastname@example.org
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SCHOOLS NEED GENUINE OPEN COMMUNICATION AND HEREâ€™S WHY.
We all need to communicate. Babies cry to let their parents know they need something. Children smile to indicate they are happy. Adults scowl to show they are not! Communication is a fundamental basic need that we all have from birth. We need to express ourselves, ask questions, seek answers, and yet in our research* with parents of school age children, only 44% said they felt well informed by their school. That leaves over half our sample of parents saying the school that their child went to was not meeting their most basic fundamental need to communicate well with them regarding their child’s education. Parents are not the only ones suffering as a result of poor communication management within our schools. Teachers are leaving the profession more than ever before and talk of a ‘crisis’ is everywhere. Disillusioned by the system, many teachers have possibly forgotten why they wanted to join the profession in the first place. The question we need to ask, is there a way they can remind teachers what they stand for and why they make a difference?
• The Department for Education’s White Paper ‘Educational Excellence Everywhere’ sets out its vision to ensure every child has an excellent education, which enables them to achieve their full potential. • Current government policy on education continues to encourage schools to convert to academies. • Ofsted is driving a continued focus from the teaching profession on school leadership and management. • Finally the revised National Standards for Headteachers launched in 2015 call for headteachers to have a strong focus on visionary leadership and communication. We are educating our children in an era where the role of a headteacher today is not just about being a teacher, it is about being a leader who can inspire and create meaning for their school and everyone involved with it. School leaders should, “Communicate compellingly the school’s vision and drive the strategic leadership, empowering all pupils and staff to excel.”*
It is time to take communication seriously in Addressing retention by creating meaning education leadership for teachers The 2014 Ketchup Leadership Communication Monitor reported, “Open communication remains critical to effective leadership yet only 29% feel leaders communicate effectively.”
We have a genuine opportunity to address teacher retention through more effective communication, and much to learn in the education system from business leaders.
In education there is an increased emphasis on The role of a business leader is to create a the need to develop leadership communication vision that motivates employees to bring their skills supported by four policy areas: best to work every day. They do this in a way that helps employees *Research carried out by Fit2Communicate Limited in 2014-2015 with 200 parents of school age children based in English schools.
* National standards of excellence for headteachers. Departmental advice for headteachers, governing boards and aspiring headteachers. January 2015. Page 5. 8
feel valued and see meaning in their work. School leaders would benefit the system by creating meaning for their teams, parents and students. This means starting with the ‘Why’ not the ‘What’. In his global best selling book ‘Start With Why’, Simon Sinek talks about how great leaders inspire everyone to take action. At a time when the experience of the education system for often talented, hardworking teachers leaves a great deal to be desired, headteachers, school leaders and policy makers have a role to play in defining the “why”. Creating meaning through communication is a fundamental element of leading a school. A school leader can create or evolve a vision that gives meaning to their teachers, and this happens through genuine two-way communication and listening. When lived fully, through all that a school does, the vision sets the tone for the right culture, supporting wellbeing, innovation, and creativity and enabling teachers to collaborate. Ultimately improving the education experience for children.
Effective communication collaborating with parents
As a parent of school age children with a background in Communication, it has pained my partner and I over and over when we see opportunities for real parental engagement being wasted. When parents are brought together, for whatever reason, it should be to create an environment that enables discussion and sharing of ideas and experiences so they can learn from each other. Precious face-toface opportunities with parents should not be used to preach at them and then send them on their way. They should be used to listen, and for genuine two-way communication.
This was the most common complaint from parents about their school in our research - they want a way to ask questions and give feedback. The second most common comment was that teachers themselves lacked communication skills and need to improve their ability to communicate. This is in sharp contrast to the requirements set out by the “National Standards for Headteachers” which call for A recent report from the Royal Society of positive relationships with parents. Creating the Arts called ‘How school system leaders a space where parents feel they have a voice can create the conditions for system-wide and are heard by teachers is the only way we innovation’ states:* are going to fix this problem. “If transformation is to come from within education systems themselves then it will depend on the emergence of a different kind of leadership. This will be leadership which has authentic conviction about the potential for education as humanity’s best hope; and which can both assemble a compelling case for change and communicate it.”
We often hear that schools are driving for improved academic results year on year. The rights and wrongs of this approach are not the focus of this article, however when cultural change remains a pipe dream, where is extra performance going to come from?
We firmly believe that parents are the key to unlocking this potential. If schools were *Creative Public Leadership: How School System Leaders not seen simply as places that parents send Can Create the Conditions for System-wide Innovation. their children to learn, but rather locations By Joe Hallgarten, Valerie Hannon, Tom Beresford RSA for supporting the development of the whole Innovation Unit. Page 9. 9
child, we are looking at a culture of partnership between teachers and parents. We are not looking at one-way communication: we are looking at open two-way communication based on listening, understanding and behaviour. Obviously, parents will require some guidance from schools, and schools will need commitment from parents to make this work, but at the heart of this idea is culture change. We can only create that change through better communication.
conversations, when you talk to young people about communication they do still express a longing for physical (paper based) communications for certain things. They see it as is more novel and permanent. While they expect online collaboration, instant information and opportunities for feedback, they share a similar experience with older generations who were swamped with paper; they are now swamped with electronic channels. They seek meaning and they are the future and it is up to us as parents, and teachers to communicate Communicating across generations in ways that resonate across all generations. Failing to do so will create even greater isolation If schools generally did a better job in engaging and limited social awareness. parents in the educational process our children and society as a whole would most likely Meeting the challenges of 21st century benefit hugely as a result. However this is only communication in schools going to be possible if we recognize and place considerable effort into cross-generational Many years ago, corporate organisations communication. In a 2013 report published realized that great communication generated by Booz & Company called “Listening to competitive advantage for their businesses. students’ voices - Putting students at the heart Robust research proved a clear link between of education reform in the Gulf Cooperation effective communication and performance: Council”,* it found that student engagement is a critical missing element in education reform: “Courage, innovation and discipline help drive company performance especially in “Changes in the education system in the tough economic times. Effective internal GCC involve a range of stakeholders such communications can keep employees as governments, local authorities, schools, engaged in the business and help companies academia, and the private sector. Too often they retain key talent, provide consistent value overlook the most important stakeholders, the to customers, and deliver superior financial students”. performance to shareholders.” Watson Wyatt 2009* Could schools better involve students in decisions about their own learning? We Educational establishments, particularly often assume, that Millenials and Generation schools are still way behind this wave, and Z (all those born after the early 1980s) want must grasp this opportunity to change. Those everything electronically, faster and with who do will truly differentiate themselves and constant opportunities to contribute ideas. reap the rewards. Yet while there is an element of immediacy in today’s Snapchat and Instagram *Strategy& - Formerly Booz & Company. Listening to students’ voices. Putting students at the heart of education reform in the GCC.
*Capitalizing on Effective Communication. How Courage, Innovation and Discipline Drive Business Results in Challenging Times. 2009/2010 Communication ROI Study Report. Originally published by Watson Wyatt Worldwide.
“Creating a space where parents feel they have a voice and are heard by teachers is the only way we are going to fix this problem. ”
reducing information overload. Meeting the challenges of 21st century • How the school communicates internally is communication within schools means that: now (because of social media) also external. Because the lines have blurred, every school • Every school should have a clear vision; with must use this opportunity as a way to to shared meaning for all in the school that expand engagement with parents. differentiates them, and helps them stand out locally from other establishments. With every year that passes in every school that • Communication should be deliberate and doesn’t take communication seriously there planned (for the long term) rather than ad are children who are missing out. We must hoc. take communication seriously in education • Education leaders must be able to and we must start now. It is already too late for inspire and motivate by communicating those whose parents weren’t able to support their school’s story and with excellent them because they were bombarded with communication skills. meaningless communications from school. My • Communication training is a fundamental belief, which is the topic of our upcoming book skill set, on which every teacher should “Building Communication Success in Schools”, receive on-going development. Every is that effective communication between every teacher should know what good stakeholder involved in the educational process communication looks like and be able to will enhance understanding and collaboration. It demonstrate it on a daily basis. will require commitment from the Government • Schools need to be clear about who they and every body responsible for legislating and are communicating with and understanding setting school governance. If this happens then their communication needs so they can it will result in better engagement within schools meet these or manage expectations. and our children having a more positive learning • The channels (face-to-face, email, text, experience. Isn’t that the future that we all want website) used to communicate such as for our children? face-to-face, email, text, and website, are the right ones, based on knowledge of what You can contact Justin at: works best and is the most appropriate for different audiences. email@example.com • Genuine two-way channels of communication are created and maintained to enable partnership with parents. • Information is managed and distributed in an appropriate and timely manner 11
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WORK IS CHANGING, EDUCATION MUST FOLLOW
When we consider how well our education system prepares our children for the world of work, we often focus on technology and itâ€™s various applications. For example the ability to â€œcodeâ€? is a primary concern for many schools. This overlooks a bigger change that is underway as organizations evolve to meet the challenges of a more volatile and uncertain environment. They are being forced to change the ways that they organize and operate and these new work environments place a premium on communication and collaboration - skills that our current education system is not set up to deliver. The dominant organizational structure of the past century has been the hierarchy model that operates in a command and control manner. Operating within a paradigm like that of a machine, employees are interchangeable cogs, functioning in a narrow and pre-defined way to enable the various business processes. These organizations grew to dominate the industrial age because they delivered great efficiencies and fuelled unparalleled economic growth, but their predominance is diminishing as the scope for efficiency gains dwindle, and the stability that supported them is replaced by a much more dynamic and volatile world. Slow to change and lacking in creativity and innovation, they are facing disruption by smaller and more agile competitors who are organized on a fundamentally different model of interaction.
a task given to them by the authority figure at the front of the room, who determines what information they receive, when they receive it, and that compliance with the rules is maintained. Our classrooms mirror the traditional hierarchy yet bear little resemblance to how work is evolving in the new wave of organizations today. One definition of this new wave of organizations has been developed by Frederick Laloux in his book Reinventing Organizations (although he does not claim it is the only model that will emerge). Laloux sees the evolution of organizations as linked to new levels of human consciousness and posits that we are on the cusp of a new evolution. These new organizations replace the machine paradigm with that or the organism, self-directing and highly adaptive. Rather than operating on a command-and-control basis, they sense and respond to the environment around them, changing in size and shape as circumstances demand and opportunity allows. The employees are self-acting, self-determining cells that work together to fulfil a shared purpose.
Laloux describes the three key attributes of these organizations, which he describes as TEAL, as self-managing, purpose-led and engaging the whole self. This leads to high levels of engagement and creativity, which in turn leads to high levels of performance. These organizations certainly leverage technology but much more importantly they create a very Our educational system was developed to different environment for people to work in and prepare people for organizations that thrived context to develop their human potential in. in the industrial age. The traditional classroom, little changed for over a century, has rows of So, that sounds very commendable but what pupils working quietly and independently on does it actually mean in practice? In what way 14
“Communication and collaboration are key to the way Buurtzorg functions. Technology is essential to helping it function but it is the communication that it enables that is crucial.” are these organizations different and what are the requirements they place on the people who work within them? Well, to answer that let’s look in detail at one organization that Laloux features in his book. Buurtzorg is a Dutch non-profit company that provides community nursing (Buurtzorg means “neighbourhood care” in Dutch), it has grown from one team of 12 nurses 10 years ago to provide over 75% of the services in Holland today and is expanding internationally. It is also very efficient and productive and extremely successful across a range of measures.
network (intranet), which is widely and heavily used to share information, ask questions, raise issues and to find and connect with people in the organization with specialist skills.
Jos De Blok, founder and CEO, uses his blog on the intranet to share his thoughts on a daily basis. It is widely read and commented upon. If he has a decision to make, he shares his thoughts in the blog and it starts a debate. Within hours, he can update his thinking based on the feedback, and share it again. If it is ‘good enough’, he can proceed. If it is not yet time to get a decision, then a working group is set up Buurtzorg consists of self-managing groups of to refine the proposal. nurses, up to 12 in each, supported by a small central office of around 35 people. The CEO, Anyone had the ability to raise issues in this Jos de Blok, has the title for external purposes manner and start a discussion about an only and has no authority or power within the initiative, which enables product development organization. All decisions are taken by the to be a bottom-up process, driven by the needs teams and his role is to be the ‘protector of of the clients and the nurses themselves. the flame’ of the organizations purpose and to be a coach to the teams. There are no formal There are continuing open discussions about structures, no plans and budgets, no strategy the values of the organization and it’s purpose handed down from above. So how can this that anyone can contribute to. These are not written down and formalized because they are work? seen to be living concepts, constantly evolving Communication and collaboration are key and shared by everyone. to the way Buurtzorg functions. Technology is essential to helping it function but it is the This type of broad and open debate requires communication that it enables that is crucial. people to act with respect and consideration Everyone is connected to the company social and to honour the intent of the process. This is 15
“Essentially, everyone is empowered to make decisions but they must follow the ‘advice process’. This places on them the responsibility to consult anyone who will be affected by the outcomes of the decision or who has relevant expertise.”
very different to the behaviour we typically see in public internet spaces, which have become hostile places for many and kill off debate and discussion. Neither our children nor us are taught how to behave and communicate effectively in these spaces, to the impoverishment of all.
Whist you might expect conflict and blame, what you get is quick and effective decision making. What is more, if the decision turns out badly, those who disagreed are often first to help with resolving the problems because they feel ownership and they recognize that the decision was made with the best of intentions.
The decision-making process is also an example of how these organizations make very different demands on their people. Essentially, everyone is empowered to make decisions but they must follow the ‘advice process’. This places on them the responsibility to consult anyone who will be affected by the outcomes of the decision or who has relevant expertise. They are not bound to take the advice that they are given but they have to justify their decision to the people they speak to. A decision can only be blocked on a point of principle, for example, that it is not aligned with the values or the purpose of the organization. People can voice their disagreement with the decision but no-one has a veto.
Recognizing that this way of working places very different requirements on people than does a hierarchical organization, all entrants to Buurtzrog receive specific training in communication skills. The two main elements are “Solution-driven methods of Interaction’ and ‘Intervisie’, a peer-coaching technique developed in Holland. These help people develop their active listening and questioning skills, as well being able to work in a nonjudgmental way to help their peers develop and grow. This training covers some of the most basic (and, ironically, most neglected) building blocks of human collaboration: learning different types of listening and different styles of communication, how to run meetings, how This process can only work if people can to coach one another, and other practical communicate effectively and in a mature communication skills. fashion and speak to each other with respect and trust. The objective is not to reach a They also received training in conflict resolution compromise but to enable the individual to and non-violent communication. This training reach what they believe is the best decision. is critical in enabling people to communicate 16
â€œ...training is critical in enabling people to communicate effectively with each other and to interact with respect and without conflict.â€?
effectively with each other and to interact with respect and without conflict. It gives them the confidence and ability to fully participate in the broader conversations in the organization, as well as the one-on-one and group interactions. It has the additional benefit of making them much more effective in their interactions with their patients and able to deliver a much better and empathic service.
to communicate with machines, they should learn how to communicate with other people.
These fundamental skills have a much broader application, of course, as they enable us to thrive in our personal lives, to build better relationships and to interact with the world in a positive and constructive way. They are valuable not only because they prepare us for these emerging organizations but also the The nurses in Buurtzorg are highly educated emerging world where a capacity for resilience and highly trained in their discipline but it was and flexibility in work and life are key. recognized at the beginning that they were not fully equipped in the communication skills This is not only the right way forward for our to be effective and happy in the organization. children, we already have a shining example We need to train our children and, indeed, of what can be achieved. ESBZ is a school in ourselves in these fundamentals because it is Germany that already operates according to not the ability to interact with technology that these new organising principles. Students is crucial in the emerging workplace but the and teachers self-manage and apply daily ability to interact with each other and together their communication and collaboration skills, in groups (albeit enabled by technology). achieving extraordinary levels of personal, as well as academic, achievement. We must As well as learning coding skills, they follow their lead to prepare our children for the should be acquiring skills in active listening, future of work. appreciative enquiry, inclusive communication and facilitation. As well as mastering different You can contact Colin at: digital tools, they should learn how to have respectful conversations, how to deal with firstname.lastname@example.org conflict and uncertainty and about personal communication styles. As well as learning how 17
What is the most important lesson we can teach our children?
I was a primary school teacher for a while, and I absolutely loved it! However I left because I was not allowed to do the job I loved doing. I wasn’t able to meet the children where they were, to work with them to create opportunity and possibility where they could learn in an environment that was devoid of testing and competition. I felt restricted and pushed into a box known as the National Curriculum. We were told to follow it slavishly otherwise when the inevitable Ofsted inspection (a term that still makes me shudder) came we were seen to be covering all bases. Or more accurately, covering our backs. Being seen to tick all the boxes seemed to be the most important thing for us to do. Quoted in Huffington post -the (confederation of British Industries) said
“decades of ‘patchwork’ reforms have confused schools, encouraged a tick box culture that has put off teachers and resulted in a narrow focus on exams and league tables”
on the skills that are transferable to business such as leadership and management, however I believe that there are more fundamental skills that will better equip our children for life outside the world of education. Skills that currently teachers are ill equipped to teach themselves and indeed even teacher training facilities seem unaware of the gravity of the omission. We are not teaching our children how to communicate effectively, how to listen with a view to grasp understanding or how to think without pre conceived influences affecting their ability to grow. They leave school feeling marginalised, confused, with a need to conform juxtaposed with a fundamental nature for excitement and adventure. Our current Millennials are leaving full time education with a mission to pay back a vast loan rather than a vision to take a risk, start a business, be entrepreneurial and change the world. On every level this is wrong.
Baiju Solanki said in the June edition of The Sadly although that was written in 2012 the Quest situation now is no better. ‘when you have a system that encourages As teachers we found weekends were lost people to be the same, be secure and be safe it to planning and evenings were lost to ticking is not a society that will produce happy vibrant boxes, and I don’t necessarily mean marking innovative people that will change the world. the children’s homework. The culture we had It is a system that produces people void of slowly declined into was creating safe yet dreams, lacking enthusiasm and low creativity’ boring, uninspired teaching and I hated it. Is this what we truly want for the next generation? To acquire knowledge is the most fascinating journey. To then understand how to utilise that Imagine for a moment a classroom where knowledge is empowering and satisfying. Yet the fundamental ‘soft skills’ were taught. If our children are coming out of school feeling children as young as 4 or 5 were shown how bored, frustrated, and worse – stupid. There is to truly listen to each other, to empathise, to no dispute – we are failing them. Organisations understand the other person’s point of view. such as the CBI are understandably focusing To be given tools to equip them with the best 19
way to share their opinions and thoughts, to understand in its basic form how conflict resolution works. Imagine if they were given the opportunity to present themselves to their classmates. Not to stand and read aloud and be ridiculed for not being able to read well, but simply to stand and share their authentic self. Show and Tell may be in each classroom but the real, powerful, message is often lost when a teacher takes over a conversation in order to complete the lesson in time. How many really valuable lessons are lost simply because we have a bell to rule our time? As adults we do not respond to a bell, so why do we make our children? How might it look if we threw out our conventional system and instead adopted radical new options to try on for size? How I would have loved to attend a school like the one Ricardo Semler describes here https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3nU3j_niU8 where children learn what they are actually interested in. Another great example is World Without Walls Green School in Bali. Who knows if these would translate into Britain, but unless we provide the space for possibility outside of the norm we will never know. In my dreams I have built a school where children are listened to, where they find their own solutions, develop their ideas, supported in their learning in areas that aren’t necessarily on a curriculum. Where technology has its place but not every topic is centred round a white interactive board that is supposed to assist learning. Where teachers are allowed to try something new, look for growth through understanding and not from a series of tests. Every child has something special in them – their genius. Teachers –and by teachers I mean every adult, have a duty to bring that genius out of them so they can flourish, create possibility for themselves and others and grow. Exactly as a gardener would nurture the best rose so too should we nurture that genius.
I am not saying that there aren’t teachers out there already who do just that. I applaud them! However I know that they are not always supported in their ideas, are restricted by attainment targets, where weeks of a curriculum can be swept aside to hot house in readiness for SATS – which in truth puts immense pressure on children and staff alike. What would it look like if creativity, ingenuity, diversity and empathy should be given equal billing with the 3 R’s? Currently there is no space in each school day to allow for personal growth, communication on a deeper level, self-reflection, mindfulness, introspection. If a child was feeling fulfilled, listened to, understood and happy how much more would they be able to learn and absorb? I remember one day when I was supporting another teacher and she was reprimanding a child for not having a pencil. The stress the teacher was under due to an Ofsted report and upcoming SAT’s exams spilled over into her teaching. I had to intervene and later sadly had to tell her that once a child is in tears it really isn’t necessary to carry on screaming at them. This seems like an extreme example, sadly it is not. I have no doubt that child will still be suffering repercussions of that encounter even though she is now an adult. How can any child be expected to learn under such circumstances? Who was at fault? There has to be a better way. The results of this type of education are evident. As a business owner I have employed many young people to support me. When they first arrive I am often astounded at their lack of enthusiasm and drive. Lacking ambition or even a simple dream they drift aimlessly from day to day not realising that it is their time being wasted. They have learned by default of years at school to get by, do the minimum, just enough to keep out of trouble. Often the conversations around integrity, ambition and 20
“Currently there is no space in each school day to allow for personal growth, communication on a deeper level, self-reflection, mindfulness, introspection.”
life goals are met with a blank stare. Believing that they are incapable they resign themselves to the world of virtual reality computer games – another reality where they can escape. Where did their genius go? Who was responsible for their light being dimmed?
responsibility to the teachers for educating their child, as happened in the past. I knew that no matter what education my child received they were only in school for 30 hours a week – I had them for the rest of the time and would ensure they experienced everything they needed to support their talents. Our children’s education Where will these young people end up if they is a three way commitment Parent/Child/ know nothing of how to communicate, how to Teacher and as long as they work together, in develop true understanding, bond friendships collaboration for a unified goal then even ‘The with compassion and love? System’ cannot stop the desire for excellence. It’s not all doom and gloom. There is far more education available now than when I went to school. The Internet provides parents with seemingly infinite knowledge that can be shared with their children. Places like MindValley.com. although focused on adults has a massive library of resources to support parent, teachers and children’s learning. It is easier now to home school your child because of the availability of such resources. When I was looking for schools for my children in the 1990’s I knew that wherever they went they would have the opportunity for a better education than I had. I went to one of the first comprehensive schools and was lucky to come out with any qualifications at all although in the east end of London I felt I came out fully qualified in the university of life. We must remember how far we have come and that parents no longer have to abdicate
We therefore do not have to rely solely on what the state provides. Schools are an excellent place for children to socialise and learn independence, but they also have to be a space where success is not measured in ticked boxes or correct exam papers. Success is a well-rounded individual who understands that collaboration will get them further, listening and communicating clearly will empower them and helping others is the gateway to fulfilment. You can contact Gill at: email@example.com
CAN LEARNING TO CHASE OUR DREAMS MAKE US MORE PRODUCTIVE?
Every organisation has an “idea blocker”, they mean well but they are the ones who hinder the adoption and successful implementation of new initiatives which lead to higher growth and improved productivity. They can be difficult to spot too, they are very well liked and respected, they use uncomplicated language which is so familiar and believable to point out why a suggestion won’t work; phrases like “Ah… you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink!”.
unsolvable problems; when you think about it has to be true, it’s just we don’t think about it that way; we are more likely to express the problem in a specific business context like: “we need more customers” or “we need more cash” or “we need to be more productive!”. The experts have even created some jargon for it and you can even get consultants to assess if your organisation is VUCA ready?
That is the thing with problem solving - people in general do not understand how to solve problems. That is not to say that people don’t solve problems, they do; it’s just if you asked 100 people how they managed to solve a problem, my experience as a coach would suggest that 99% of those asked would have no idea of the process they used. They will probably shrug their shoulders and say something like “I don’t know, lucky guess!”. I am one of the rare 1% who has the ability to solve complex problems and understands the process that I use; it was pure accident that I found out. Twenty five years of experience of managing complex projects and senior management roles in the ever changing IT services sector gave me the skills to solve complex problems, aided by retraining as a coach when I was made redundant 10 years ago gave me, to my surprise, the techniques and insights to discover how I did it, and the ability to teach others.
Let us be a bit collaborative in our thinking and borrow some wisdom from one of the greatest problem solvers of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein:
So why are organisations poor at solving the big problems that make a difference to the amount We have heard phrases like this so many times, of success that can be achieved (such as more they are etched deep in our psyche, we accept sales, better cash flow, more productivity)? them as a universal truth, the effect on most of us is instant, we dismiss the idea and search for The most immediate answer that comes to another idea. Actually, the statement is totally mind is that generally in business there is wrong; there is a way you can take a horse to always extreme time pressure, a quick answer water and make it drink, and when I explain it is wanted or at least a quick easy win, and that to you later it will seem so very obvious. is never a good starting point.
“I’m not particularly smart I just stick with problems longer than others” So this explodes the myth that “smart” is another word for “intelligence”, and suggests that a key element in solving big problems is sticking at it or being persistent; and based on my experience I would suggest that to be good at “persistence” you need strong emotional resilience to keep going in the face of annoying problems (probably people related) which will either distract you or make you procrastinate. “If I were given an hour in which to solve a problem upon which my life depended, I would spend 55 minutes deciding the proper question to ask. For once i know the proper question to ask myself, i will solve the problem in less than 5 minutes.”
This has led me to believe that an organization’s ability to achieve sustained success year after This provides us with a massive clue about how year is built on a core skill of solving seemingly to solve big problems. Essentially we have to 23
“I would suggest that to be good at “persistence” you need strong emotional resilience to keep going in the face of annoying problems (probably people related) which will either distract you or make you” keep redefining the problem until the definition of the problem actually makes it obvious how to solve the problem. This is really what “root cause analysis” is all about.
This often confuses many people, it means the problem is caused by flaws in our thinking or perception of how something works, i.e we are doing what we believe is correct and that thought can make it harder for someone to see The aircraft industry have become experts the solution. For example: in this. They use root cause analysis to solve problems like “why did this aircraft crash?” Its I have often heard business owners say “why hugely important that they fix the problem so can’t anybody do it as well as me!” and those that it doesn’t happen again. When something type of business owners are unlikely to solve major goes wrong people can die. When this the problem as to why they are always busy. happens the emotional reaction is huge and the They give jobs to other people to free up their potential knock-on impact to whether people time for strategic activities (ie delegate) and travel can have a serious impact on profitability then they micromanage them, increasing their or even whether a business survives a lack of workload and using up the free time that they confidence. wanted to create by delegating work to others. Of course they don’t see it that way as they are And bizzarely something strange happens in too concerned that the person will not do it as this highly competitive industry. They came to well as them and have no trust that they will realise that the solution to this problem was so eventually learn how to do it. important to the well being of every business in the travel sector, that investigators into As a coach most of the problems I help people crashes started operating independently of with are of this type. Its related to how they the organisation that had suffered the loss. perceive the world which in turn is based on our experiences of the world. I have also heard They were given as much time and money as this expressed as “glass box theory”, this is necessary to carry out detailed investigations, similar to the phrase “glass ceiling” which is into at all possible causes until the exact used in the corporate world for unseen cause was found, and then all the findings barriers that keeps some people from rising up were shared for all to benefit. The direct result the corporate ladder. of this collaboration (or systemic win as Paul Baker spoke about in our previous edition) is Glass box theory simply states that we are that safety in the aircraft sector has improved bounded by an imaginary box and the four significantly over the past 50 years. sides are formed by our attitudes to how time and money works (e.g. being busy is used “We cannot solve our problems with the same as excuse for not changing or never having thinking we used when we created them.” enough money to do something) and our ability 24
to overcome fear, doubts and worries and for people that have it and recruit it. believe in what’s possible (eg public speaking is scary i’m not doing that or i couldn’t possibly Which in turn leads to one last question, run a marathon). assume that these skills are teachable (which I whole heartedly believe to be true) how do you It is particularly important for entrepreneurs teach how to solve big seemingly impossible to find a way out of their “glass box” and they problems ? and in a way that isn’t simply are helped often by an an inner drive to do learning on the job. I had to learn this way and things which they or anyone else has never it is a brutal type of learning despite having done before. But if a person has never been acquired those skills almost by accident. exposed to glass box theory before it is easy to get stuck in your life. You will not know what Instead of on the job problem solving, I want to do to free yourself because you will not see to introduce the idea of dreaming. If you ask the glass walls you have created for yourself. people about their dreams, and gently prompt them with questions, while asking them to The solution is quite easy: ask for help and get ignore the practicalities of life, to think like a someone’s elses view on things. child writing out their Christmas list, I am certain that on that list will be at least one dream that Strangely, being collaborative makes these is big and seemingly impossible. types of problems easier to solve. Collaboration involves people with different skills, probably With training from a coach that person can from different sectors and backgrounds learn the tools they need to chase their big coming together to work with a single purpose. dream. The coach is not only teaching big This diversity means everybody has a different problem-solving skills, but also how to think “glass box” and it is less likely that a collaborative strategically and achieve strategic goals. This team would get stuck by this type of problem. does take time, maybe a year, and might In my experience this is generally the reason involve winning over some scepticism, but the why collaboration is so good for solving big outcome of providing your employees with problems. these skills and then transferring the skills to the context of the work place would yield So back to the question about organisations amazing results. . being poor at solving the big problems. My view is there are three reasons for this: Impossible! Well you might think so but its one of my dreams to make it happen; and in my 1. The competing nature of most organisations dream I see an ending where it has become the gets in the way of developing a collaborative norm for a business to have highly motivated, mindset productive employees collaborating with 2. It is not seen as a vital skill and so there is other business to jointly tackle the really big no talent strategy to recruit or train people problems that face us all. to be good at problem solving. 3. Some of the skills which you require to be As to the answer to the question “how do you good at are often linked with personality take a horse to water and make it drink”: well it and so the predominate view is that skills is solved by asking the related question “what like this are not teachable; you either have makes a horse drink” and then asking the it or you do not – such as being emotionally related question “in what situations does horse resilient, introverted, or a deep thinker. need to drink”... and so eventually you discover the simple answer “Add salt to the oats”. Which leads to suspect that the real reason that organisations are poor at solving big You can contact David at: problems (eg how do we get more clients, how do we get more cash, how do we become firstname.lastname@example.org more productive) is that the majority believe this skill is not teachable, you have to search 25
Profile: Taking a look at a key Collaborator in the community.
Alan Brown: The School People
“Be Collaboration is interested in the passions that drive people to be the best they can be.” Alan has been a member of BeCollaboration™ since the very beginning. Contrary to popular belief he did have a choice. Although married to cofounder Gill Tiney he is a member in his own right and has experienced the ‘Collaborator effect’ on many occasions. We caught up with Alan at his office at The School People HQ where his team work to support schools, providing them with products and services to make their lives easier. He believes that teachers work hard enough to educate our future generation without them being ill equipped or running out of supplies. I asked Alan what made him go along to his first BeCollaboration meeting? And not because Gill told him to…. ‘I had obviously been around the conversation for some time as Gill and Erkan developed the idea of a collaborative community and it was something that simply made sense to me. I had always considered myself a supportive and collaborative person, I immediately felt at home with the topics and those who came to listen. It was fascinating going to those early meetings as the ideas were formed and people shared their dreams. It became an addictive environment to be in’. As the community grew Alan felt it was a supportive space in which to challenge himself by sharing a life philosophy he had been working on. In July he took the ‘Know and Known slot. This is an hour slot where Collaborators share their knowledge, passion and what it means to them to be in the collaborative space. It has turned into quite an emotive session where Collaborators feel able to authentically share their passions and vision for the future. Quite often this is a time for reflection in a new area of their life that has nothing to do with their
business or job. Alan chose to reveal a philosophy he had been working on for over two years. ‘My Bubble Paradigm is my philosophy of life to help people take a new perspective on how they can get a better balance to their life looking specifically at their family, work and ‘me’ time. It was a real privilege to share what I believe to be a very simple tool to find true and lasting happiness. I was nervous, scared and excited all at the same time, but it was well received and I was bowled over by the comments afterwards. I’ve even been asked to do the talk again at the Essex Group. This is a whole area of my life that has only come about because of the people I have met in BeCollaboration™. The encouragement, love and support I get from everyone in the community means I feel able to be brave and come out of my comfort zone and by sharing my Bubble Paradigm will be able to help others. This is what BeCollaboration are trying to do for every member, discover their genius and help them to make a difference to someone else.’ I take this philosophy into my work with The School People too, helping teachers and making their school life easier, making a difference. BeCollaboration™ has taught me so much, it’s a way of life now and I can’t imagine not being part of this amazing community where I can be myself and am inspired by those around me.’ Contact details for Alan: Alan@theschoolpeople.uk
The Quest Invitation to visit.
BeCollaborationâ„˘ believe that true collaboration â€“ as you have witnessed here in The Quest, occurs when people develop and deepen their relationship, building trust through sharing their authentic self. This doesnâ€™t generally happen as a result of online communication. Meeting face to face is the best way to create amazing possibilities where wonderful projects happen. The Quest is just one such project. We believe that meeting regularly is fundamental to our growth and learning so we have monthly meetings for guests and Collaborators to meet and discuss new ideas, issues and potential solutions. Each meeting delivers knowledge sharing, business insights, personal development opportunities as well as thought leaders in the making presenting their genius to the room. All of this in an atmosphere where fun and laughter are paramount. At the end of the meeting we find no one wants to leave so we continue the conversations in a social get together for as long as you want to stay. If you would like to visit and meet our community you are very welcome. There is no cost to attend, simply bring an open mind and a listening heart. Here are the upcoming meetings. To register attendance and get venue details please go to the website www.becollaboration.com
What happens at a BeCollaboration™ meeting. 2pm – 3pm is the Introduction for guests. Learn more about what inspires us to be part of the community, our journey so far and how to make the most of your visit. 3pm – 6pm The Collaborators will join you to share, create, discuss, inspire and learn – plus have fun! 6pm onwards there is always a social vibe to continue the conversation, you are very welcome to stay and we can get to know you more too. We look forward to welcoming you to a BeCollaboration™ event soon.
THE QUEST is produced by BeCollaboration.com BeCollaboration™ believes in working for a world where every individual has the opportunity to...
Published on Oct 9, 2016
THE QUEST is produced by BeCollaboration.com BeCollaboration™ believes in working for a world where every individual has the opportunity to...