Last week, business, education and community leaders heard from one of the world's best-known academics in the field of education reform and school turnaround at the Education 2020 Speaker Series, presented by the Chamber, Mayor Dean and the Lipscomb University College of Education.
Andy Hargreaves, the Thomas More Brennan Chair in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, provided insights on high-performing school systems using a recent study he authored with Professor Alma Harris. Titled “Performance Beyond Expectations,” the report focuses on high-achieving organizations in three sectors: business, education and sports.
Hargreaves pointed out that nine out of 10 businesses working to turn around in a year or less fail. In researching this topic, the authors were struck not by the differences between organizations that were able to successfully turn around, but the similarities. They found that the criteria for successful turnaround lie in three areas:
1) Perform better than you did;
2) Perform better than your peers; and
3) Perform better than you’d expect.
After examining which characteristics make this kind of performance more likely, the authors came up with 15 common factors that serve as a framework for successful turnaround. Several of these stand out in particular.
First, what Hargreaves referred to as F1
: the fantastic dream. The premise is that organizations that perform beyond expectations aspire to an improbable, collectively held dream that is bolder and more challenging than a plan or a vision. In the case of MNPS, that dream is to be the first choice for families in Davidson County. The next factor is F2
: the fear. Hargreaves stated that organizations should use fear to energize, not paralyze. The full report can be found at www.andyhargreaves.com.
Hargreaves also emphasized the importance of strong leadership. He said, “It’s easy to lead when you have everything going for you. It’s essential to lead when you don’t.” This statement has strong implications for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, where leadership is a critical factor in successful turnaround. As a strong affirmation to Metro Schools, Hargreaves, who was visiting for a couple of days as a member of Dr. Register’s National Advisory Panel, declared that he believes MNPS will be one of the leading flagships of how to move forward in education reform in the next three years. He added that the country will be looking to us as an example. Clearly, we have a lot to do to reach this point, but, as the Chamber’s Education Report Card Committee pointed out in its 2011 report
released earlier this week, it is increasingly evident that we have the leadership in place to attain our “improbable dream.”
To view additional photos from this event, please click here.