MyNotes - Leading for Learning (Chapter 3)

Note: This is my continuing reading/interaction with Philip Schletchy's (PS) book, Leading for Learning. This is about Chapter 3: Bureaucracies Versus Learning Organizations.
In this chapter, PS provides "a framework for assistant leaders with" understanding the schools we have and the reasons they function as they do, as well as imagining "what schools would look like if they were to function as they would need to for all children to learn at high levels."

  1. Rational bureaucracy, as conceived by Max Weber, is a "means of organizing human activity so that the impact of human emotion and sentiment is minimized, thereby ensuring rationality in all decision-making processes."
  2. Organizations based on bureaucratic assumptions always have trouble dealing with and taking advantage of persons whose primary tasks call on them to create or uniquely apply technical knowledge and who function as knowledge workers. [Miguel's Note: That sure explains why schools wiped out knowledge workers, also known as instructional technologists (smile)].
  3. Learning organizations, per Peter Senge, are "organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where colective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together." (Miguel's Note: As nice as this concept is, it doesn't address how people interact and that's where most leadership simply fails.).
  4. Really deep learning is a process that is inevitably driven by the learner...and it always moves back and forth between a domain of thinking and a domain of action (per Peter Senge as cited).
  5. PS distinguishes between various types of learning:
    1. Deep learning, which comes from Senge, and is characterized by PS as profound learning: learning that calls on the student to think and reason as well as to remember. It requires students to remember what they learned over a long period of time rather than just to pass a test, providing them with a level of mastery of what they have learned that is sufficient to ensure that the knowledge they gain or develop is of use in contexts beyond that in which it was learned. Critical thinking is essential. For profound learning to occur, meaning, personal value, and the engagement that result from these are essential ingredients.
    2. Superficial learning - a type of learning that can be produced by forms of compliance not associated with engagement. Compliance is induced through the use of extrinsic rewards and the threat of punishment. 
  6. Leaders in learning organizations spend much of their time communicating clear visions to others and inspiring others to join them in the pursuit of those visions. Questions:
    1. What kind of organization are we, and what do we want to become?
    2. What accomplishments will make us most proud?
    3. What will it take to satisfy those we intend to serve?
    4. What are the core values and beliefs we want to ensure that new members will embrace and uphold?
    5. How do we identify, import, and develop the knowledge we need to engage in the kinds of continuous innovation required to survive and thrive in a constantly changing environments?
  7. Kinds of questions bureaucrats are concerned with [Miguel's Note: I love these questions as insights into the types of leaders we often have to work and are ourselves]:
    1. Who is in charge?
    2. What are they in charge of?
    3. Who decides, and how are things decided?
    4. What are the standards for performance?
    5. Who judges this performance?
    6. What are the metrics to be used in rendering these judgements? [Miguel's Note: This really reminds me of Patrick Lencioni's Death by Meeting  and the efforts at developing metrics].
  8. In learning organizations...
    1. power and authority is always subordinate to the directional system (who's in charge).
    2. power and authority are viewed as shared resources for maintaining direction, rather than a means of exercising control in a system that may be without direction.
    3. Energy and resources spent on recruitment and induction decrease the need for supervision, formal evaluations, and inspection.
    4. Understandings on which the organization proceeds are likely to be enshrined in myths, lore, stories, and semisacred traditions and transmitted through fully developed induction processes rather than through policy manuals, memoranda, corporate briefings, management-dominated conferences, committee meetings, and announcements.
    5. Those who are most knowledgeable are empowered to act on what they know, regardless of their position or title. Because those who know what needs to be done are empowered to act, learning organizations are nimble in the face of novelty.
    6. the organization is dependent on the capacity to develop and maintain shared commitments to common beliefs and shared meanings regarding the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly.
    7. They require common attachment to shared symbols and creation of a common identity.
    8. There is an assumption that all members have a shared understanding of duties and obligations that membership imposes on them, as well as shared understanding of the rights and privileges that membership ensures.
    9. Consensual authority gives high priority to the idea that the basis of decisions needs to be transparent and submitted to public inspection and verification. Hidden agendas are taboo in learning organizations, open discussions, conversation and dialogue are the primary means of making decisions.
I have to take a moment and pause. Are you ever reading and something whacks you between the eyes and you sit in comparative awe of the idea expressed? Well, that's me now. As i read the highlighted section, I realize that some of my past work environments epitomize the word bureaucracy, and crucial conversations never happen, resulting in an increase in transaction costs...
Substantially increase trust and reduce transaction costs in virtual work teams. Those who can’t handle their crucial conversations suffer in 13 different ways (backstabbing, gossip, undermining, passive aggression, etc.) as much as three times more often in virtual teams than in co-located teams (Research Study: Long-Distance Loathing). (Source: Crucial Conversations)
What's frightening about this information is that organization purport to know this but don't practice it.

Ok, back to MyNotes:
  1. Power has to do with the ability to gain acceptance of directives and support for norms.
  2. Authority has to do with the right to exercise power
  3. Influence has to do with personalities and personal relationships and is not embedded in the formal structure of the organization. Influence comes to people as a result of who they are, what they do with and for others rather than because of the authority assigned to the positions they occupy.
  4. In bureaucracies, facts and data are weapons for exercising control and inducing compliance.
  5. In learning organizations, facts are viewed as tools with which ideas are disciplined rather than as weapons with which adversaries are dispatched.
  6. Consensual autheority honors values and traditions and openly embraces the notion that culture, as well as structure, is important to life of the organization.
  7. People and their value are at the center of decisions as much as or more than are processes and their value.
  8. Consensual authority emerges out of conversation, dialogue, and arguments aimed at seeking a common course of action and empowering poeple to act.
  9. Learning organizations celebrate the human spirit and strive to inspire the creativity that men and women possess.
  10. In a learning organization, people have power because they have influence.
  11. A ploy of disaffected workers in bureaucracies is to work to the rule, which means doing exactly what the rules require regardless of the contradictions and inefficiencies introduced.
  12. "What are the most important things we do around here?" The answers determine what kind of organization you are.
    1. In a learning organization, leaders assume that the core business of the school is designing engaging work for students--work that calls on students to complete intellectually demanding tasks--and leading students in the successful completion of those tasks.
  13. Superordinate goals...the goal or goal set that provides "the significant meanings or guiding concepts that...[the school] imbues in its members."
    1. Provide students with engaging tasks that result in their learning those things of most value to themselves, their parents, and the larger society.
    2. Ensure that the needs of individual students, as determined by externally defined standards, are the primary determinants of actions taken.
    3. Ensure tight supervision and the maintenance of decorum and order.
  14. In a school where student engagement is given high priority, actions taken to ensure discipline will always be evaluated in terms of their impact on student and staff engagement and commitment.
Ah well, I ran out of time...I'll have to come back--and you will, too--to share the rest of my notes on this chapter.

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