There’s no question, if you are a leader in any sector, to survive and thrive means developing a coherent strategy. When it comes to high-performance teams, culture becomes a foundational part of strategy and a driver of innovation. With this in mind, answering the question about how to balance strategy and innovation becomes easy: innovation is the strategy.
How does this look in education? Today’s educational environment has become extremely competitive, particularly at the collegiate level. Institutions must be able to impart 21st Century educations, which includes inspiring pupils and students to be innovators and creators. However, in many FE, HE and school contexts, the cultural shift that is required for this remains a challenge.
Much like any business that has an ingrained multi-layered bureaucratic process, such a shift from established tradition requires the staff within the school or academy to be open to change. As noted by Richard Pattenaude, president at Ashford University, every organisation has its own culture. Some older organisations are steeped in tradition and slow to change, while other emerging institutions are more agile and change is seen to happen very quickly.
However, schools with a culture of change and innovation are most likely to impart that culture to their students. By contrast, when schools don’t foster the culture of innovation, not only will they sell they their students short but, their students are likely to simply become dissatisfied with their learning. For the older institutions and more seasoned educators, the reality is that the cultural shift will bump up against tradition and somehow the two must be reconciled.
According to NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby, this means that “leaders will have to develop a degree of humility” to in order to adapt to the new technologies that challenge the old structures.
That said, creating a culture of innovation doesn’t necessarily have to be at odds with tradition, but it does necessitate being open to new ideas. When leaders genuinely welcome and encourage new ideas from all levels of their school, and prioritise the process of innovation within their strategy rather than obligatory improvements, meaningful and transformational change will follow.
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