Schools, like all
enterprises, are fundamentally human activity systems. The
following diagram represents the ways in which the elements of a activity
system are related:
people in the system
- What: do tasks &
using processes & resources
(ways & means)
- When: as determined by
opportunities, needs and the availability of resources
Outputs (good, bad or indifferent) are a result the processes: they may be
arrangements, specific skills or knowledge or actual products like documents such
as plans. We can usually measure or assess these outputs.
Outcomes are the changes in the circumstances, experiences,
opportunities and quality
of life of the people. They arise as a result of the interaction between the
available outputs and other outcomes and the circumstances including
In this sense outcomes are achieved by
bringing together many outputs in particular contexts. Some outputs may have existed for so
long that we don't realise that they are outputs. Outcomes
develop and/or they are achieved. They are best evaluated by the recipients.
So outputs and outcomes are different but can be understood to
exist on a spectrum. As we attempt to achieve higher order outcomes
we tend to deal with lower order outcomes as if they were outputs.
For example, as an outcome of a whole host of development processes
a young child may be able to write the word 'cat'. As the child
matures and attempts to achieve higher order learning being able to
write the word 'cat' becomes less significant and can be treated as
an output from previous learning.
Using these fundamental notions
Whatever your situation in the scheme of things you are a manager and a leader, at least
some of the time. Insights into your situation are essential if you
are to be successful. The following questions (and possible answers) are
offered for your consideration to assist you in analysing your system
1. What do you attend to, as a manager and leader?
- purposes to activities
tasks, resources to processes,
- processes to outputs
- outputs to outcomes
outcomes to purposes.
2. What are the connections between people, tasks resources,
processes, outputs, outcomes and purposes?
Answer: In processes, people
use resources to carry out tasks in order to
produce outputs that contribute to outcomes which
will achieve their purposes.
3. What does success mean ?
Answer: That the agreed purposes
4. Who agrees the purposes?
people in the system agree the purposes.
5. What is the role of tasks?
Answer: Tasks should contribute to achieving the purposes.
6. What are resources and what is the role of
Answer: Resources include
(in alphabetical order)
are to be used efficiently and effectively to complete tasks.
7. What are the roles of people?
People to work together towards completing tasks, producing
outcomes & achieving the
8. What do we need to know to be able to be effective as leaders
and managers in any situation?
- What are the purposes?
- What tasks are necessary to achieve the purposes
Who will do what, when and how (the
processes) to complete the tasks
- What resources will be needed to undertake the tasks
9. What set of core strategies might be useful ?
- Understand the system: its purposes, tasks and processes
- Understand the needs of the people in the system
- Work WITH the people in the system
- Stabilise the system with sound governance
- Continuously improve the system to ensure the purposes are
Start by making it easier, ie, improve processes to
- Reduce the resources required
- Redeploy the resources released
- Increase the likelihood of tasks being successful first
- *Apply the achievements of the system to the system
- Apply Deming's 14 imperatives
- Beware the obstacles and 'diseases'
that might impede your progress
10. What does this imply for change management?
- Change management involves key
- Change management involves applying a change
to manage changes in all aspects of the above
- * The potential to apply the outputs of the system to the
system is a somewhat 'unique' aspect of educational systems