The DeHavilland Blog

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Article on applying business principles to schools

Good commentary in Education Week last week from John Simmons, President of Strategic Learning Initiatives. The article (link here) is titled "High-Performance Schools: How urban districts can transform themselves using business models." An excerpt:

Business leaders around the world have
deepened our understanding about how to improve large, complex systems. Inspired
by seminal works like Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
and W. Edwards Deming’s Out of the Crisis, they have focused on principles that
promote more effective leadership models, ranging from union-management
collaboration and stronger teamwork to faster problem-solving and fewer levels
of management.

These ideas are not new. Kuhn introduced the concept of “paradigm
shift” in 1962 to describe the dramatic improvement in results when
organizations change basic assumptions. Deming and his Japanese colleagues
pioneered the development and application of continuous quality improvement in
the 1950s. Contributions from Richard Beckhard, Eric Trist, and others have also
guided the redesign of large organizations to improve results.

And several well-known corporate CEOs, such as Robert Galvin at
Motorola, Donald Petersen at Ford, and Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines, have
taken these ideas and transformed their companies.

The connection between these transformations and what needs to happen in our
schools is obvious: High-performance business models can turn schools around.

Well worth reading for anyone interested in applying business principles to improving education.


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