One of the joys of being an independent school is that we are able to respond to opportunities and threats quickly and in a way that suits our community’s specific needs. Unlike other schools that have to wait for authority to act from “head office”, we are able to make “on-the-ground” decisions.
In business parlance that makes us what is referred to as an agile organisation.
“Agile organizations are different. Traditional organizations are built around a static, siloed, structural hierarchy, whereas agile organizations are characterized as a network of teams operating in rapid learning and decision-making cycles. Traditional organizations place their governance bodies at their apex, and decision rights flow down the hierarchy; conversely, agile organizations instill a common purpose and use new data to give decision rights to the teams closest to the information. An agile organization can ideally combine velocity and adaptability with stability and efficiency.” McKinsey, The journey to an agile organization, 2019
Being agile means we:
- are able to act within our unique vision and strategies;
- can adapt quickly to new challenges and opportunities;
- can strongly focus on our capacity to serve our School community;
- can mobilise quickly and act nimbly;
- are open to opportunities for innovation and learning;
- can provide fast and accurate information to our community;
- learn from any mis-steps and improve our processes;
- respond quickly to changing demands and requirements;
- implement required innovations or systems changes in days or weeks, not months or years.
Of course, some can see a downside to independence, as we have virtually no back up outside our school community if something goes wrong.
Paradoxically, we see this as a positive because, as a school, we will only exist and prosper if we are meeting our community’s needs.
That means we have to plan carefully, deliver effectively and respond meaningfully to the needs and aspirations of our School families if we hope to continue serving our community.
That also means that we cannot and will not rest on our laurels, believing our success makes us immune from the pressures of our rapidly changing world.
There are plenty of examples of why that is a really bad idea!
Here are some famous companies that failed to innovate, resulting in business failure.
- Blockbuster (1985 – 2010)
- Polaroid (1937 – 2001)
- Pan Am (1927 – 1991)
- Borders (1971 – 2011)
- Tower Records (1960 – 2004)
- Compaq (1982 – 2002)
- General Motors (1908 – 2009).
In a parody of the words of James Taylor, we have recently seen fire (and lots of it) and rain (much less than we needed), we’ve seen sunny days we thought would never end (they calculate Port Macquarie had over 48 extra days of summer weather in 2019-2020). And now we have COVID-19.
In each case our school has been able to respond quickly and effectively to the challenges faced and still continue to offer a great and innovative education.
That feels good!