Geeky about Process


I admit to this much – I like thinking about process, and I have evidence – stacks of diagrams, outlines, flowcharts and whiteboard scratchings mapping a broad range of abstract notions about learning and organizations, – middle of the night outlines index finger tapped into Evernote or whichever app is handy — in multiple generations of complex Excel spreadsheets compiling assumption options into long range summaries, — a cloud based project management tool I am working on to help schools cross over from cool idea to “assuming we want to make that real – what should we do besides talk about it and congratulate ourselves for being so innovative?”

Today, I don’t see classrooms very often, a year ago I visited every one, everyday in the school we were helping get underway and checked in daily with some or all of the board, the leaders, the business office, the community supporters. (See the previous post about my computer’s smiley…). When it is not driving me up the wall, I love this dynamic. When the adults are making me nuts, I rationalize back – I have been at this a lot of decades, in a lot of situations, maneuvered through, over, under, around multiple barriers and other sticky, sometimes stinky situations. It all comes back to a single notion that has multiple identities – all related to the minds of children, adolescents and near adults. Sometimes it takes the shape of tending abundantly growing mind gardens, other times it’s a rushing stream as in Csikszentmihalyi’s flow, sometimes a replay of a student performance that has been stored enough to play back a sequence and the attached response, always its about the work of getting there – “what does it take to generate and support that level of mental engagement?”

So I work on these process maps, trying to find ways of getting there. Do we need a GPS? Do we need a guru? Do we need a special opportunity or invitation? Or maybe just an inspiring cup of coffee…

Resistance and Design Intervention

First – That’s design not divine, OK? We are talking about outcomes that have to be worked for not wished for…

In a Wall Street Journal Irving Wladawsky-Berger discusses an idea pulled from a series of four articles in the September Harvard Business Review on the Evolution of Design Thinking.

I am just going to pull a few quotes here because he says it well and you can follow the link to read it all.

“When first introduced, disruptive innovations are likely to encounter stiff resistance, both within one’s own organization and in the marketplace, otherwise we wouldn’t call them disruptive. The article argues that we should apply design thinking to the launch of the disruptive innovation itself – a process they call intervention design.”

And later:

“The concept of intervention design is brilliant but even harder to explain unless, you’ve personally gone through the experience of trying to introduce a new, disruptive idea, first to your own colleagues, later in the marketplace.”

And then…

“…when it comes to disruptive innovations, the key to success is generally not the technology itself, but the ability to overcome the cultural and marketing issues that will cause your own organization and/or the marketplace to reject the idea at first.”

So how…

the article suggests, intervention design should be based on the same rapid prototyping principles that play such a major role in design thinking, including continuous experimentation, learning and refining. This requires introducing alpha and beta designs to get early feedback, and steadily improve the offering until the intended users are satisfied.”

The articles is at:


That last para is iterated in the HBR in an article by Tim Brown and Roger Martin titled: Design for Action:

no matter how deep the up-front understanding was, designers wouldn’t really be able to predict users’ reactions to the final product.”

Feedback and Data — The metronome of a blended classroom

Read this subhead in an article this morning and knew I had to have it:

Feedback and Data  – The metronome of a blended classroom. 

Music2This a subheading in an EdSurge article about the strategy an Aspire school used in implementing a rotational blended learning model. A quote from the article: In Aspire’s blended classrooms, teachers receive both formative and summative data from many sources; using that data strategically is key to providing targeted instruction.”

Article is here.

I’ll take metaphors wherever I can find them and this one resonates… of all the noise that comes with a classroom, a rhythmic beat, embedded in the ambiance, that flows from pace and activity of growing minds, not merely imagined, visible, not just measurements, viable evidence, illuminating…