A subject department has to cope with a great deal of volatility and stress; students in general (!), staffing, curriculum changes, pressure on results, budgetary concerns, even the position of their lessons in the week timetable. All of these variables test the strength of a department, and can cause a reactive culture in the department. Reactive cultures create costs. Costs in time, costs in resources, costs in health. This makes a department ‘fat’; slow to respond, overstocked and time-poor.
My department is on the journey from being ‘fat’ to being ‘lean’. Decisions are pre- determined. We collaboratively plan. We decide on the data that tells us what we need to know about our students to help them progress. We only mark what is necessary, not purely to acknowledge the existence of students’ work. Choice is limited where variety is needless. The lean department knows the course it wants to take and makes plans, budgets and strategic decisions early.
My talk suggests ways of how school teams can move from ‘fat’ to ‘lean’; optimising resource usage, departmental systems and processes, and using entrepreneurial strategies to maximise their efforts for little energy.
A teacher for 12 years and senior leader for 3, I am interested in using systems thinking, behavioural economics and entrepreneurial strategies to create tightly integrated and high performing teams in subject departments. Through use of data and tactical modes of thinking, I believe the path to optimising operations can be replicated at all levels of education.