Student Led Change

By John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog.

Presentation by Christine Simpson and Sarah Ambrus at the 2015 Deming in Education conference: Empowering Students to Lead Change.

YouTube video

In discussing the use of the 5 why’s Sarah made an important point that people would benefit from remembering.

Focus on what we can control. Sometimes you have to go back and redefine your problem in terms of what you actually have control over.

Two related posts on that topic: Root Cause – Addressing Systemic Causes Not Symptoms and You are the top of your system. Change your thinking, change your process – you change your system.

The presentation talks a detailed look at how to create an education system that gives students the ability to lead change in their school. They understand a factor that many businesses fail to consider which is to making sure to provide “tools” and understanding that allow the students to do so. I have written before about the importance of giving people enough “rope” to succeed.

Obviously quality tools are useful only when you have the ability to understand how to use them. This is true with all tools but some tools are much easier to pick up and use (often physical tools are this way, though not always). To use quality tools effectively whether you are a young student or an experienced manager requires learning. If the organization doesn’t facilitate that learning the chances of successful application of those tools is greatly reduced.

“Providing enough rope to succeed” also critically requires proving a management system (continual improvement and change management) infrastructure that supports and encourages change. In the presentation they discuss how their system is designed to let students led change. Such systemic reinforcement is critical in a school (or in a business). As W. Edwards Deming said:

Support of top management is not sufficient….action is required.

So often leaders claim they are letting others take initiative when really they are just not leading and are setting up others to fail but saying one thing but maintaining a system that works against what they say and not giving adequate tools and knowledge to those the leaders have given responsibility to. This presentation provides a good view of what is required to provide the support, management system and education to those being asked to led change (the students, in this example).

Leaders have to act in support of those given the task to led change. Words are not enough, action is required.

Related: Dr. Deming’s Influence on One Elementary School PrincipalChange Management: Creating a Culture Seeking Continual Improvement Instead of One Using Band-AidsInquiring Minds: Improving Elementary Science by Linda LippeRoot Cause, Interactions, Robustness and Design of Experiments

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