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 School Improvement:  Managers
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Managers attend to both people and processes. Managers are leaders working to improve the system with the help of the people in the system

  • to stabilise the system and then 
  • to improve the system
  • on the basis of data which covers all aspects of the processes involved
    •  input data (what is known or intended)
    • process data (what is happening)
    • output data (what the results are: costs and benefits)


Managers work with information AND knowledge.  Much of the key knowledge is provided by those who work in the system. Thus "a manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge" (Peter Drucker). When processed data becomes information. Information confirms or challenges the knowledge that we choose to apply in the operation and improvement of our systems.


Questions for managers to ask those they 'supervise and lead':

 '"To help you do your job easily & well

  • What can I do more of, and,
  • What can I do less of?"

Optimising a system is the task for managers

  • make information freely available: purpose, processes, values ...
  • build cooperation & teams
  • reduce internal competition and other barriers
  • identify the system's constraint
  • apply effort & resources to reduce & remove the constraint on the system
  • apply PDSA
  • reduce variation
  • improve the average
  • there is always a constraint (Goldratt)

Warning - optimising the system does not mean optimising each part separately. An orchestra with all sections performing at the maximum level only produces a cacophony!!!

Teachers as Managers (teachers are managers of classes) must consult with the people in their system (students work in classes) to ensure that the system in which they work (the school and classes) is such that students have the greatest probability of being successful learners.


  • The best managers understand and are able to communicate their system (its inputs, processes outputs)
  • And also which people (contributors & recipients) are part of the system and in what way they are part of the system. 
  • As managers we are not the final arbiters of what should be. Rather managers are servants of the people who work in their systems. 
  • It is very common to grossly underestimate to value of knowledge about a system held by people in a system. 
  • The best managers lead the task of collecting and organising data about the system (studying the system). 
  • It is everyone's task to observe what is happening.
  • The best managers lead continuous improvement of the system by utilising the plan-do-study-act cycle.
  • Working on the people won't get the results we want, Control reduces people's capacity. 
  • Managers also need to remember that their system is part of  larger systems. 
  • People skills are not for working on people.  People skills are for making it easier for the people with whom we work.
  • Change from control to leadership