Dr. Scott Benwell

In Collaboration and Community

More flies with honey…

December 15, 2010 by sbenwell · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

I am thrilled to see the chatter around the release of the PTC – A Vision for 21st Century Education (PTC).  It’s also important to note the questions around how we are going to lead this effort in collaboration and community with the host of others that are critical to success. 

Sometimes a piece of the puzzle appears and answers, if only in part, a key part of the question.  I was driving between two communities in our district today and picked up a conversation with Dan Pink on CBC.  He was discussing what the keys to the motivational enterprise will be in leading change.  A great RSAnimation (here) could easily be a centrepiece to any discussion on the topic.  Pink argues that three habits of leadership are critical to the effort:  1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.  Think of the power in giving our people the autonomy to create, the time to master their craft, and the space to find purpose in making a meaningful difference in the lives of students, each other, and our communities. 

Also, Margaret Wheatley’s 1996 A Simpler Way offers some insight into a refreshing way to frame this journey:

Stability is found in freedom – not in conformity and compliance.  We may have thought that our organization’s survival was guaranteed by finding the right form and insisting that everyone fit into it.  But sameness is not stability.  It is individual freedom that creates stable systems.  It is differentness that enables us to thrive;


All systems do insist on exercising their own creativity.  They never accept imposed solutions, pre-determined designs, or well-articulated plans that have been generated somewhere else.  Too often, we interpret their refusal as resistance.  We say that people inately resist change.  But the resistance we experience from others is not to change itself.  It is to the particular process of change that believes in the imposition rather than creation.  It is the resistance of a living system to being treated as a non-living thing.  It is an assertion of the system’s right to create.

We have an awsome and exciting challenge ahead and it is one that  requires a refreshed view, a courageous willingness to allow the living system to express itself, and a tolerance for ambiguity along the way.  It’s clear that we will attract more success through the strategies identified here than we will with rigid and imposed solutions that attempt to expediate superficial change. 

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Chris Wejr

    Scott, I can honestly say that one of the best things about our district is autonomy. Educators are provided with the flexibility to take risks that benefit students. Thank you for walking the talk.

  • sbenwell

    We’re fortunate to have that tradition in our district. I see that when a purpose/direction is set in the big picture, people have an amazing talent for creating and building on what matters most.

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