Friday, January 21, 2011

Sorting Socks..where do you begin?

The task of creating a model of education that impacts how children live their lives more meaningfully and more purposefully can be overwhelming... much like facing a pile of socks that need to be sorted.

How to start? Helpful: Know your change process formulas.

Numerous formulas say follow these seven steps or multiply this by this and you get this amazing transformation. No formula can possibly work.

Leaders who have these "formulas" in mind draw on them, and adapt them to their own circumstance. Having multiple "formulas," and frameworks enable leaders to have many possible solutions to challenges that have no clear answers. A Talmud page comes to mind..wish it were easier.

Some leaders who make change just do it intuitively. Rabbi Jodie Siff of the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore (of the Coalition of Innovating Congregations) is a leader who I think has it in her DNA. She sees opportunity and seizes it. And she doesn't do it alone. She is a team builder. Rabbi Siff knows when to say no and when to take the risk. Ok if you don't have Rabbi Siff's DNA then..

Like most of us read Peter Senge, Isa Aron, Michael Fullan, John Kotter, Michael Jacoby Brown, Marvin Weisbord and others...(notice the shift from top down to bottom up models for change)

And if you can't read them all, start with
The Heart of Change Field Guide, Tools and Tactics for Leading Change in Your Organization, Dan Cohen.

Cohen gives us the tools to make Kotter's 8 step formula for change come to life.
8 steps (who is kidding who...we all know its 108 steps)...

1. Increase Urgency
2. Build guiding teams
3. Get the vision right
4. Communicate for buy in
5. Enable action
6. Create short term wins
7. Don't let up
8. Make it stick

A lot of congregations in New York started with the top half of the list.
And now, some are about to begin an experiment starting with number five and then moving to the next steps. The jury is out about what's most effective. I'll assume no shoe fits all feet.

But for the sake of linear thinking, start with
Create a sense of urgency to shake inertia.

Stir your own passion first, then shake others.

In New York, congregations that have made change began with one or two people, (e.g. clergy or educator or lay leader) starting the urgency ball rolling.

1. Individuals might have only started with a glimmer, a question. I often recall Rabbi Marc Margolius's question to me: "Are we going to build a better failed model, or we going to build a new model?"

What are the questions individuals ask themselves and others to stir and shake inertia (I love extra olives)

1. What specifically are we trying to achieve here?
let's name it, measure it.
Where is our data?
Where we are hitting/missing the mark?

2. What's the story we tell about success?
Can you describe success in your learner that doesn't sound like and she/he will know all his prayers, speak Hebrew, love Israel, do Tikkun Olam, know the rituals and have fun?

Can we tell the stories of what we mean by success and tell the stories of where we are missing. Tell me the name of the learner and what we can see in him/her that is telling us we are successful? That we are missing?

According to Cohen, don't analyze it, let folks see it.
Highlight gaps

Develop clear indicators and measurements
Gather information about trends developing in the market

Cohen says, "The need for change has to be seen so that they can become emotionally charged to make things happen."

So we are not selling widgets, I get it.
So our outcomes are not in ounces or kilowatt hours, we work in units of lives well lived.

Success for us is:
a. A child is known and cared about in our community.
b. A child knows and cares about others in our community
c. knowing, caring, and community are characterized by Jewish values

If we say this is what we are seeking to achieve MIND THE GAPs.

3. What are the trends?
Dare tell the story of the congregations that are making the changes and telling stories of success.

4. What are the urgency Factors? What's the mission of the congregation?
How are our children and families?

5. Where's the testimony? Where are the powerful testimonies of children who are living richer and fuller lives because of their educational experiences? Get those stories out

Of course this week's Torah portion is Yitro.
If you don't like Cohen's advice, try Yitro:

"You will surely wear yourself out both you and these people who are with you for the matter is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone."

Ending before Shabbas now to say:
On Sunday many teams from congregations in the Coalition of Innovating Congregations are coming together to learn how to create videos of their successes.
They have been able to name their outcomes, and now want to capture powerful emotional images of those outcomes. The videos are not trophies, they are tools to create the urgency, and the demand for more of those successes.
Mind the gap and have a good Shabbas