When They Want Schools to be like Businesses…

Cheesy Stock Business Photo

I hate when business people want to apply, without context, their ideas to schools. But this modern take on management is very compatible with PBL classrooms.

Author Kim Scott has been co-founder and CEO of multiple tech and consulting companies and a high level manager at both Google and Apple. She has been advisory consultant to leaders at Dropbox and Twitter. She has managed companies working in Kosovo, Moscow, and Israel. In other words, she has led at some of the best and most innovative companies in the world.

I have adapted a management quote from her book, Radical Candor, Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity to our school setting:

“When I was at business school staff meeting, I was taught that my job as a manager teacher was to ‘maximize shareholder value‘ ‘raise test scores.’ In life, I learned that too much emphasis on shareholder value test scores actually destroys value learning, as well as morale. Instead, I learned to focus first on staying centered myself, so that I could build real relationships with each of the people who worked for me my students. Only when I was centered and my relationships were strong could I fulfill my responsibilities as a manager teacher to guide my team class to achieve the best results. Shareholder value High test scores are the result. It’s not at the core, though. ” 

A couple of thoughts, in the business world, data and metrics about making money really is the point. None of the companies that she started, or places that she worked for were non-profit charities. Their purpose was to make cash, yet she says focusing on profits over people is actually counterproductive to that goal.

Now all of these companies use data and make decisions based upon it. But her core values are building personal relationships with her team and giving honest feedback to them. Qualitative data based on observations and relationships is more important than raw, quantitative data. Both businesses and schools involve shaping imperfect humans. Scott understands that relationships are the key to motivation and growth.

The second thing is self care, which many teachers struggle with due to the many demands placed on them. We can not be who we need to be for others if we are personally drowning due to stress, poor health, etc. Take time for yourself to go on a hike or other exercise, make a delicious, home cooked meal, or read a book. Add it to your calendar if you must. It’s vital to your success!

So if business folks want to evaluate schools, then they had better come from a human centered approach instead of a results driven one. Since even in their world, it is more effective.