Innovation comes from the edge, almost never from the centre. It is time to start creating the edge of the organization now. As organizations become more technologically networked, they also face skilled, motivated and intelligent workers who can now see systemic dysfunctions. But those who talk about these problems are often branded as rebels. Pitting rebels against the incumbent power-holders is detrimental to organizational learning. Instead, rebels should be allowed to move to the edge. With some additional help from native pathfinders, organizations can then learn to solve their own problems.
Change management then has to be seen as a way of working, not a separate process, and not an event. On the edges the answers will not be clear, but they will be less obscured than in the centre. A new partnership is needed, between current management on the inside, workers on the edges, and others living beyond the organizational edges. This can start by creating a trusted space away from the centre, funding it, and letting people start to work and learn anew. It’s like giving birth to a child, and will take time and a lot of nurturing. It’s also a bit of a leap of faith.
This speaks to school cultures as much as any other, but the problem is that innovation in classrooms is many times seen as experimenting on the kids. It’s a complex shift to make, requiring trust at its base that failures (which will inevitably occur) will be instructive, not catastrophic. But even more, it requires that everyone in the organization have a clear understanding and context as to why innovation is required and necessary. Part of the “rebels” job (and those that support them) is to constantly answer the “why” question.
My sense is that the answers to the why are becoming more and more compelling at the meta level. Making those answers relevant and effective at the local level is as much a part of the change as the innovation itself.