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Strong from Start to Finish MAISA Summer Conference June 21, 2007 Seizing the Opportunities a Crisis May Offer – A Vision for a 21 st Century Education in Michigan. Chuck Schwahn Schwahn Leadership Associates

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chuck schwahn schwahn leadership associates chuckschwahn@yahoo com

Strong from Start to FinishMAISA Summer ConferenceJune 21, 2007Seizing the Opportunities a Crisis May Offer – A Vision for a 21st Century Education in Michigan

Chuck Schwahn

Schwahn Leadership Associates


“Act always as if the future of the Universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference.”

Buddhist advice from Finding Flow

acting on what we will discuss today requires both will and courage
Acting on what we will discuss today requires both WILL and COURAGE.
  • At the end of today, there are two questions.
  • One, do you believe that an information age delivery of education is the direction we should/must take.
  • Two, if yes, are you the one to do it . . . that is, the one with the Will and Courage to go for it.
  • If not, what then?

MICHIGAN is to the UNITED STATES today . . . as

  • IRELAND was to the EUROPEAN UNION 20 years ago.
the irish phenomenon
The Irish Phenomenon . . .
  • From the bottom . . . to the success story
  • From Industrial Age to Information Age
  • Because they faced reality
  • Because they had a future-focused vision
  • Because they had courageous leadership
  • Because they gave up some old ways
  • Because they EMBRACED CHANGE!
today s agenda
  • About CHANGE

Today’sOutcome . . .

  • That you will have the desire, the will, the courage, and the skill to repeat this presentation.
  • Anyone who wants this power point presentation can have it for the asking . . . please give credit.
  • Modify it to fit your group and your style.
  • Contact the MAISA office or
and your responsibility
And, YOUR Responsibility?

To apply IT ALL, to:

  • Our Profession
  • Your Organization
  • Your Leadership Team
  • Your Particular Role
  • To Think, “ What If ?”

Part I . . . About CHANGE . . . .

  • From an Individual’s perspective
  • From a Total Leader’s perspective
  • We will be applying these two frameworks in Part II when we Face Reality, and in Part III when we encounter a Specific Change.

TQM/No Child Left Behind is . . . High Class Tinkering

Getting better at “doing schools” is simply polishing the last patch of skin on the Industrial Revolution’s souring apple.

Tom Peters applied to US Education

blanchard on change
Blanchard on CHANGE . . .
  • We, the change agent, usually begin by attempting to convince you of all the benefits of the change that you are being asked to make.
  • Yet, it has been found that the benefits – the impact and the “why” of the change is the fourth-ranked concern people have during change.
more of blanchard on change
More of Blanchard on Change . . .
  • People are first interested in information concerns . . . “Tell me what you have in mind. What is needed? What is wrong with the way things are now?”
  • Next, people are interested in personal concerns. “How will doing this affect me? Do I have what it takes to integrate the suggested change in my life?”
  • Third, people have implementation concerns. “What do I do first, second, third, etc.”
  • The impact and the “why” of change is the fourth-ranked concern people have during change.

Leadership 101

Strategic Design

  • Strategic Direction
  • Beliefs/Values
  • Mission
  • Exit Outcomes
  • Vision
  • Strategic Alignment
  • People
  • Practices
  • Policies
  • Structures
















Key Domains of Total Leaders






lpc the five essential bases of change
PURPOSE - - The deep and compelling reason an organization exists and what it is there to accomplish.

VISION - - The clear picture and direction that guide an organization as it defines and pursues its preferred future.

OWNERSHIP - - The emotional and motivational commitment by staff to accomplish the organization’s vision.

CAPACITY - - The knowledge, skills, and abilities of the organization's staff to achieve its declared purpose and vision.

SUPPORT - - The organizational structures, processes, and resources made available for achieving its purpose.

LPC . . . The Five Essential Bases of Change
the 5 pillars of productive change
Purpose - “It has meaning for me!”

Vision - “It’s clear and exciting!”

Ownership - “I want to be part of it!”

Capacity - “I can do it!”

Support - “Our leader is really helping!”


Part II . . . About FACING REALITY . . .

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.

Max DePree, Chairman and CEO, Herman Miller

CONFRONTING REALITY is based on the principles of Courage, Responsibility, Awareness and Respect.

facing harsh realities the stockdale paradox from good to great collins
Facing Harsh Realitiesthe “Stockdale Paradox”from Good to Great, Collins

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever it might be.

harsh reality 1 purposely left in stark black and white
Harsh Reality #1(Purposely left in stark black and white.)

No one thinks that we are doing a good job in preparing our students for a successful future.

Everyone . . . other than educators . . . is critical of our performance.

We rank near the bottom of nearly all international rankings.

Authors that used to devote a chapter to the needs of education now dismiss us in a paragraph.


Reality 2: We are Industrial Age Organizations existing in an Information Age world.

Our Instructional Delivery System is an assembly line where time is the constant and quality is the variable.


Reality 3: We are bureaucratic monopolies existing in a world of customization and service.

Our policies and practices are chosen for “administrative convenience” and are inconsistent with our most basic research regarding students and learning.


Reality 4: We are an “industry,” existing in a world that requires a profession.

We are union contract driven, controlled by outside forces, and seldom remove underperforming workers.


Reality 5: We are managers in a “profession” that requires bold and courageous leadership.

Tradition trumps innovation, security trumps change, and goal setting trumps vision.


This may be too harsh . . .

but given today’s definitions of leadership and management . . .

“educational leaders” may be an oxymoron.


My (CJS) take . . . Public education cannot improve significantly if we continue to function in our present Industrial Age Instructional Delivery system.

And I have little motivation for the care and maintenance of a dead horse.

Present reality demands significant change in how we do business.

schwahn ranch advice from jerry and sheri schwahn
Schwahn Ranch Advice . . . from Jerry and Sheri Schwahn

“When your horse dies, for God’s sake, dismount!

harsh realities discussion
“Harsh Realities” Discussion . . .
  • Do you agree? Which ones? Too harsh? Too mild?
  • Could you make a sound case for these realities . . . and for the hope part?

Part III . . . About a SPECIFIC CHANGE . . . .

  • Information Age Instructional Delivery
  • Future-focusing and learning from the successful
  • Visioning an Information Age learning organization
  • Cross-industry learning and transfer
  • Starting a dialogue about seriously restructuring education
impact of the info age
Impact of the Info Age . . .
  • The Info Age didn’t change WHAT products and services were provided to customers very much.
  • The Info Age did change HOW products and services were delivered . . . for everyone.
  • Except for education.
my role today
My role today . . .
  • Not to preach . . . but to invite you along on a journey.
  • To invite you to see the potential in a new structure for education . . . and to want to be part of a significant change.
  • I invite your thoughts and extensions . . . orally today and in writing at anytime.
  • WHAT IF????
industrial age structures and practices
Industrial Age Structures and Practices
  • An graded k-12 assembly line . . . everyone moves at the same pace
  • When there is a problem on the assembly line . . . students are moved to “rework”
  • A,B,C grades . . . some lemons come off of the line and we give them “Cs”
  • Time is the constant . . . quality learning is the variable
  • Our profession/industry is heavily unionized
  • School Districts are more “managed” than “lead”


Do you think that education is going to get better if we continue in our old Industrial Age paradigm?

information age structures and practices
Information AgeStructures and Practices
  • Transformational technology
  • Learning rate tailored to the individual learner
  • Learning style tailored to the individual learner
  • Learning interest/content tailored to the individual learner
  • Standard for mastery . . . the learner has mastered the outcome or “they are not finished yet”
  • Leaders create innovative future-focused organizational visions and manage toward their implementation


and INDUSTRIAL AGE Paradigms

Industrial Age Paradigm of SCHOOL

Information Age Paradigm


Specific Students

can learn

Specific Subjects


Specific Classrooms

on a

Specific Schedule

in a

Specific Way

from a

Specific Teacher


can learn









World Wide Experts


Imagine Education……..

Organized Around

Instead Of

Future Conditions




EQ and IQ


Learning Research


The Past

More School








Industrial Age


Information Age









Learning Systems

Learning Environments



Learning Opportunities

Learning Outcomes

Performance Assessments

levels of info age application
Levels of Info Age Application:
  • Totally online. The learner determines the rate, the content, and the learning style.
  • Totally online. The system determines the learner outcomes, rate, and the content.
  • A balance of online and teacher facilitated learning . . . based upon best approaches to learning.
  • Instruction is classroom-based with opportunities for online support.
  • All instruction is school/classroom-based.
motivation to learn is natural if
Motivation to learn is NATURAL if:
  • Learners have the prerequisite learnings
  • They are met at their “developmental learning level”
  • The new learning is challenging
  • The learner has an established record of successful learning
  • And it’s also nice if the learning fits the learning style and interest of the learner

. . . from our present Industrial Age Delivery of Instruction

. . . to a future-focused Information Age Instructional Delivery System.

Please help me to come up with a shorter, catchier, and stickier name or label for this.


The problem is not

that schools “are NOT what they used to be”…..

The problem IS

that schools “ARE what they used to be!”

about your structure
  • Many people . . . maybe unconsciously . . . assume that an organizational structure is permanent.
  • In many cases, the structure no longer serves the business . . . the people are serving the structure.
  • Less effective leaders tend to let the structure drive their decisions rather than adapting the structure to meet the ever changing needs of the business.
the deming 85 15 rule

The Deming 85% - 15% Rule*

“85% or more of the problems

in any organization are caused by the organization itself. 15% or fewer

are caused by the workers.”

*Late in Deming’s career, he changed his figures to 94% -6%.


MANAGEMENTis all about - - and nothing more thanALIGNMENT* Structures* Processes* Practices* PeopleManaging for Alignment is where the heavy lifting takes place

a new way of thinking a new way to begin strategic planning
A New Way of Thinking . . . A New Way to Begin Strategic Planning . . .
  • First Question: What must learners know, be able to do, and “be like” to be successful in the world in which they will live?
  • Second Question: How can learners best learn that which we want them to demonstrate?
  • Third Question: Is the intended learning/ demonstration best learned by an individual alone, in a small group, or in a large group?

If 50% -- 60% of what students need to learn to be successful after they leave school can be learned alone via technology . . . .

We have just dropped the student/teacher ratio from 26 to 1 to 13 to 1

we have not served the fast runners well
We have not served the “fast runners” well . . .
  • This is not an either/or position . . . it is a both/and position . . .
  • The two most memorable and most costly federal initiatives of my time were the ESEA Act of 1965 and the No Child Left Behind legislation.
  • Each of these programs targeted the real needs of learners who were not achieving.
  • There was/is a little money for Gifted and Talented, but that was a small “pull out” program with no research based definition of “gifted and talented.”
  • Truth is, we really can’t identify our gifted and talented learners . . . but we can identify our “fast runners.”
  • Our Industrial Age Instructional Delivery System limits the potential of our fast runners.
  • We need a “continuous progress” Instructional Delivery System that allows our highly motivated, hard working, high achievers the opportunity to move at their own rate . . . and all with little or no additional cost to the system.

Make sure that you don’t miss the opportunities that a crisismay offer.

Think “Leapfrog”


About INNOVATION . . .

(Schools could/should learn from this – should do this.)

  • The history of innovation is chock-full of “geniuses” who begged, borrowed, and stole ideas from one category and simply applied them to another.
  • Imitation across industries is more efficient and effective than blue-sky creativity and innovation.
  • The secret is bringing a great idea from another market or industry to your market or your industry.
  • Something common to the world at large may be very new to you and your organization.
apple inc s istore
Apple, Inc.’s iStore . . .
  • Allows me to select and buy MY favorite individual songs . . .
  • For only 99 cents each, cheaper than in ‘79 . . .
  • Downloads them to my computer and my iPod and I am listening to Anne Murray sing “You Needed Me” within minutes . . .
  • My VISA is debited . . .
  • Anne Murray’s bank account is credited . . .
  • All totally “friction free” . . .
  • No one touched anything . . .
  • No one had to do any work . . .
  • And Steve Jobs buys an expensive bottle of merlot . . .

Any possible application to education??????

cross industry learning and transfer

Cross-Industry Learning and Transfer

In the spirit of real change, we invite you to consider the following paradigm shifting questions . . .


What could we learn from Sylvan Learning about high expectations, student success, accountability for learning, and parental support?

Yes, we know that not everything Sylvan Learning does can be easily transferred to public schools,

but what could we learn?


What might we learn from how Wells Fargo – or your personal bank – has gone from being open from 9 to 3 for your banking inconvenience, to being open and available 24/7 . . . and rarely making an error?


What might we learn from Michael Dell and Dell Computers about how to create a structure that routinely meets the individual needs of millions of clients while doing it at costs lower than anyone in the personal computer industry?


What might we learn from the late Sam Walton about how to consistently deliver quality products so that money back requests for returns are so infrequent that they are virtually accepted without question?


And what might we learn from how Wal-Mart uses the ubiquitous bar code to organize, manage, and communicate everything important to everyone in the production-to-distribution-to-sales chain?


What might we learn from about successful strategies for simultaneously customizing services to millions of people . . . while selling books and related products with much greater efficiency than the traditional “bookstore” business model?


What might we learn from Verzion about recordkeeping . . . about how they keep track of who called whom, from where, when they called, how long they were connected . . . and if privacy laws permitted, could probably help you to recall what you talked about?


What might we learn from JetBlue about scheduling . . .about how they employ Salt Lake City stay-at-home housewives to do the complex work of effectively scheduling passengers for all JetBlue flights?


What might we learn from Apple and iTunes . . . about simultaneously identifying and acting on the listening preferences of millions of individual customers, allowing each customer to select specific tunes for only 99 cents per song, having the songs downloaded and ready for play within minutes, billing the customer, and paying the artist . . . all seamless friction free, and untouched by human hands?


What might we learn from Apple, Inc. . . . about how to put 10,000 songs, a half dozen full length films, and your family photo album on a gadget that is small enough to put in a shirt pocket . . . and be able to show it all on a screen nearly the same size as the iPod . . . or the family TV . . . while easily selecting which item you want, when you want it, using only one small dial.


What might we learn from 3M about risk-taking, innovation, learning from failures, and finishing with products and services that lead their specific industries?


What might we learn from Phoenix University about preparing and credentialing people throughout the U.S. for high success in today’s competitive business world?

cross industry borrowing for an information age instructional delivery system
Cross-Industry borrowing for an Information Age Instructional Delivery System:
  • GOOGLE for the CONTENT
  • iPod/iStore/iPhone for the STORAGE AND PORTABILITY
information age teaching
Information Age TEACHING . . .
  • WIIFY . . . what’s in it for you?
  • What would your job look like . . . think interesting, think professional, think fun . . .
  • What if the only learners in your group had an immediate need to learn the same thing . . . AND, had the prerequisite learnings to learn it?
  • What if you didn’t have to manage other students while you were teaching your group?
  • Well, that’s what you should be able to expect!!!
information age teaching1
Information Age Teaching . . .
  • The Wal-Mart bar code could identify your learners
  • Yahoo! could schedule them
  • Google could provide the content
  • YOU could be the professional learning guide
  • Cingular/ATT could record learner progress and communicate with parents
creating a 30 day customized learning schedule
Creating a 30 day, Customized learning schedule
  • A conversation between Lori, a 14-year-old learner, and her father/mother
  • Assuming that the Learning Community has created the Information Age infrastructure . . . e.g., curriculum as outcomes, learning opportunities online, etc.
  • Lori is a rather responsible, self-directed learner . . . but a teenager!
  • Lori has a Learning Coach who is employed by the Learning Community
  • What if Lori were not a responsible, self-directed learner
  • What if Lori did not have access to a computer at home
the about change discussion
The “About Change” Discussion . . .
  • Can we change? Can we get there from here?
  • Major obstacles? Powerful forces working for change?
  • Change strategies? What might we do to “unfreeze?”
  • Can you convince others of the need for change?

Properly defined, the opposite of a leader isn’t a follower. The opposite of a leader is a pessimist.

Marcus Buckingham

weight bearing walls a metaphor applied to education
Weight Bearing Walls . . . a metaphor applied to education
  • Physical structures must have walls or other supports to hold the roof up . . .
  • If you have ever remodeled a house, it is good to know which interior walls are “weight bearing.” Not all interior walls are . . .
  • If you are going to remove a weight bearing wall (WBW), you must apply another support before that wall can be removed . . .
  • If you don’t, the roof will cave in . . . duh!
  • So, we started by asking 75 Lake County, IL superintendents to identify the WBWs of our present . . . and severely outdated . . . Industrial Age Instructional Delivery System . . .
  • The WBWs are listed on the following slide.
weight bearing walls wbws
Weight Bearing Walls (WBWs)
  • Grade Levels
  • Class Periods/Bell Schedule
  • ABC Grading System/Student Evaluation
  • Education Happens in Schools/Use of Space
  • Nine Month School Year/Agrarian Calendar
  • Reporting to Parents/Accountability
  • Paper and Pencil Orientation
weight bearing walls discussion
“Weight Bearing Walls” discussion:
  • What are today’s Industrial Age WBWs? Identify five or six please.
  • Your vision of an Information Age learning community. Three brief statements, please.
  • Your group’s vision for an Information Age learning community. Five brief statements, please.
weight bearing walls
Weight Bearing Walls . . .
  • Identify the rigid, inflexible weight bearing walls that support our Industrial Age delivery system. Let’s think of 4-6 WBWs.
  • What Information Age, Mass Customization process might we use to replace each of these weight bearing walls? And who might we learn from? Fidelity? Amazon? Apple? Wal-Mart?
  • What would it look like . . . what might be a brief vision statement that would capture each new weight bearing wall?
info age thinking
Info Age Thinking . . .
  • Individually identify a business that is “Mass Customizing” . . . that is meeting you idiosyncratic needs.
  • What might a Learning Community look like/be like if it were designed by Apple, Inc., Amazon, and/or Google?
  • All without using the words “school,” “classroom,” and “teacher.”
five minds of the future
Five Minds of the Future:
  • The CREATING mind
  • The RESPECTFUL mind
  • The ETHICAL mind

Howard Gardner

the synthesizing mind
The synthesizing mind --
  • Ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines or spheres into a coherent whole and to communicate that integration to others.
apple and innovation aka network innovation
Apple and Innovation:aka – “Network Innovation”
  • Apple escapes the “not invented here” syndrome.
  • In short, Apple is an orchestrator and integrator of technologies, unafraid to bring in ideas from outside but always adding its own twist.
  • The iPod: most technology off the shelf . . . add the touch pad, the iStore, and Apple’s design . . . and you have control of much of the USA’s music industry.
apple and innovation cont
Apple and Innovation Cont.
  • Apple illustrates the importance of designing new products around the needs of the user, not the demands of the technology.
  • Simplicity: the iPod was not the first digital-music player, but it was the first to make transferring and organizing music, and buying it online, easy enough for almost anyone to have a go.
  • “Fail Wisely:” Macintosh was born from the wreckage of the Lisa . . . The iPhone was born from the wreckage of apples first attempt at a music phone that also flopped.
next steps
Next Steps . . .
  • Personally embrace the Info Age Delivery System Vision . . . Michigan’s Mass Customized Learning Vision . . . talk it . . . take risks to begin and sustain the dialogue.
  • Determine if you are the one to do it . . . with the will? With the courage?
  • Learn to do Mass Customized Learning Vision presentation

For your ISD leadership team . . . polish

For your ISD staff . . . Polish

For your Superintendents

For Communities

  • Gain consensus of School Districts for the Mass Customized Learning Vision.
  • Create agreement/contracts between those Districts on Board and your ISD.
  • Take Mike Flanagan up on his statements to team with you to make the Mass Customized Learning Vision a reality.

Can Education Really Change?

Can it get to the future from here????

  • Our Policymakers have LEGALIZED Bureaucratic Industrial Age Schools.
  • Our Educators have INSTITUTIONALIZED Bureaucratic Industrial Age Schools.
  • Our Publics have INTERNALIZED Bureaucratic Industrial Age Schools.
  • Our Media continue to REINFORCE Bureaucratic Industrial Age Schools.

Can Education Really Change?

Can it get to the future from here????

  • Our Policymakers have LEGALIZED Bureaucratic Industrial Age Schools.
  • Our Educators have INSTITUTIONALIZED Bureaucratic Industrial Age Schools.
  • Our Publics have INTERNALIZED Bureaucratic Industrial Age Schools.
  • Our Media continue to REINFORCE Bureaucratic Industrial Age Schools.