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 School Improvement:  Developing Systems
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Developing Systems will (over time) require both Change and Improvement.

 Change in any of the four dimensions (knowledge, skills, systems and culture) is likely to require adjustments in each of the other dimensions

Thus the management of change involves management of 
                KnowledgeSkills - Systems - Culture


Development & learning  The four dimensions exist only in the hearts & minds of people. Thus development  in each of the dimensions requires learning

  • Learning is done one person at a time
  • Learning is mediated by significant people, tools, , hence,
  • Leadership is not optional !!!

With such a rich framework there are many potential starting points from which to select.

Warning  There is a simple answer to every question and it is usually wrong !!!!


Choosing starting points

  • Analysis should aim to discover as many useful starting points as possible
  • Synthesis should aim to align initiatives, ie to achieve synergy
  • Starting points include both solutions & opportunities
  • Solutions may be identified before or after opportunities


Achieving improved outcomes will require

  • Attention to four dimensions at many levels
  • Attention to both people & task
  • Attention to what is & what could be
  • Assessment of both costs & benefits
  • The use of both logic & intuition


The Law of TANOBWAY:    "There Ain't No One Best Way"


Common errors

  • Choosing the one right answer
  • Being hopeful or hard-minded
  • Confusing actual with desired
  • Confusing ideas & plans with actions
  • Confusing explanations with solutions
  • Confusing solutions with outcomes
  • Confusing desirable with feasible
  • Substituting policy for leadership



(Continuous) improvement is a process. Continuous improvement is both possible & essential.

It is not necessary to improve everything all at once because most things are interconnected

The majority of difficulties can be traced back to one or two elements (and these are usually policies!!)


Incremental improvement is a cycle of action learning (Deming)

  1. Plan an improvement, eg, of a process
  2. Do (implement the improvement)
  3. Study the change & its outcomes
  4. Act (adopt, adapt, rethink or reject)
  5. Go to 1.

Another approach to continuous improvement is based around  limiting factors, eg, processes constraints (Goldratt).  Every system/process has a constraint at any point in time.

  1. Identify the constraint
  2. Exploit the constraint (maximise effectiveness at this point)
  3. Subordinate everything to 2.
  4. Elevate the system's constraint(s)
  5. If in 4 above the constraint is broken then go to 1 : identify the new constraint