I’m one week away from completing my 5th graduate course in Digital Learning and Leading, and over the course of the last 7 months, I’ve learned SO much about what it means to be a Digital Leader in the classroom, in an organization, and even in a district. At the completion of my current course, I will have spent the entire 5 weeks reviewing different change implementation strategies to apply to my innovation plan. It’s quite interesting to look back at my implementation outline and see how it has evolved and changed.
The information I’ve been soaking in the past couple of weeks stems from a book written by Sean Covey, Jim Huling and Chris McChesney entitled, The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. In a nutshell, what the authors have laid out for us are a precise set of rules that can put any plan into action. I think what I love most about this is that the authors understand that people have great ideas- whether they be personal or work related goals, people really do want to change for the better, and when they can’t reach those goals, it isn’t because their dumb or lazy. It’s because their busy. When I first read this, I felt like the skies opened up and the heavens were singing praise. In my mind, I was like, “Yessss! Someone finally understands that I didn’t just quit, or forget about it!”. What the authors are referring to when they say this, is that people get caught up in their day to day operations- whether it be lesson planning, meetings, parent conversations, or dealing with child behavioral issues- and often times, this urgency hinders their ability to really put a plan into action. This is called a whirlwind. We all have one, and sometimes, we just need a little help executing our goals in the midst of our whirlwind.
This is exactly what the 4 Disciplines of Execution were created to do. There are rules to follow to get us to where we want to go, but the hard part is that these rules must be followed in order for us to succeed. If you think back to the Influencer strategy I discussed, you could ask yourself, “Wasn’t that a plan for successful execution as well”? Yes, but the difference between the Influencer strategy and 4DX is that the Influencer model focuses more on the psychological aspect of implementing change, and 4DX is all about the logistics. I have taken a liking to both strategies, and understand now, how they can complement each other. For me, it is not one or the other. Personal, social, and structural influence is just as important as the following necessary steps.
The Stages of Change
Stage 1- Getting Clear: I’ve gone over my innovation plan countless times to make sure I am as thorough as possible. I’ve crossed all my t’s and dotted all my i’s, and I’ve developed a clear and concise WIG (Wildly Important Goal) that you will see below. I acknowledge that I need to be as transparent as possible with my team and I will need to make myself readily available for assistance.
Stage 2- Lauch: I am preparing for the lauch stage, as I type this blog post. I am 10 days away from the first day of school, and as that date approaches I am meeting with my Director of Fine Arts and my fellow technology leaders to ensure that I am set to pilot this new program at our school. I feel as if this stage is super important for me, because as I begin this year long pilot in my class, I will need to make sure I keep my administrators and middle school colleagues in the loop of the progress I will be making throughout the year.
Stage 3- Adoption: I am anticipating some resistance to my plan, not from my administrators, but from some colleagues. I expect that resistance to begin to fade away during this pilot year, once they can clearly see and understand how the following disciplines will lead to the successful execution of the WIG. This, coupled with the student excitement of creating something that is personalized to their liking and that has the benefits of getting them into the schools they want to go to, is sure to get all teachers on board with the plan.
Stage 4- Optimization: In this stage, I will expect teachers to be more purposeful in their own classrooms and to be active leaders. As they begin to produce successful results in their classrooms, they will begin to look for ways in which we can improve our plan. How can we continue to make it better?
Stage 5- Habits: Until we have reached this stage, when the the 4 Disciplines of Execution have become second nature to us, can we call ourselves winners. I believe once we meet our goal, others will be more open to the idea of risk taking.
Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important Goal
I talked earlier of the whirlwind and how it can cause us to loose sight of our goals. Another important point I’ve taken away from 4DX, is that we should only have 1-2 set goals that we want to achieve. I found this statistic, taken from the embedded video at the bottom of this post, to be very interesting.
The more big goals you have on your plate, the harder it is to achieve any of those, so it it important to focus on 1-2 goals so that the chances of success are higher. My Wildly Important Goal (WIG) is to have all middle school Presbyterian teachers designing and planning appropriate lessons that will enable student work to be uploaded onto an ePortfolio platform by May 2018.
This needs to continue to be the top priority, and results will be measured in a variety of ways. It is also important to share successes and exemplars in all-faculty and/or division meetings to serve as recognition and inspiration on the usages of the ePortfolio in the classroom.
Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures
Lag and Lead Measures are two terms that the authors introduce to us in the 4DX book. The terms are new to me, but the concept make total sense. Simply put, the lag measure measures the goal and the lead measures are the important steps that need to be taken that can get us to the goal. My lag measure is to have all middle school students graduate from the 8th grade with a solid ePortfolio. The success of the lag measure rides on the execution of the following lead measures:
- Teacher Modeling- Teachers must model continuous use of the ePortfolio in each of their subjects by utilizing their own sites in classroom instruction and lessons.
- Collaboration and Accountability- Teachers must regularly partner with technology teachers and leaders for effective ePortfolio project designs.
- Evaluation and Grading- Incorporate technology integration grading criteria by evaluating student work in ePortfolios each quarter.
Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
The importance of creating a compelling scoreboard is vital. We want to our teachers to feel like they have a chance to win, and an effective way to do that is to create a visual for them. It’s important to keep in mind that the scoreboard needs to be simple, and not overwhelming with a bunch of statistics, and we want to make sure we have it placed in a location that is visible and/or can be accessed by everyone. I’ve created the following example of a scoreboard that I would like to use for our ePortfolio implementation, and you’ll notice that I’ve included what the scoreboard might look like once all middle school teachers are involved. There will be 4 different scoreboards for 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades, and each grade level’s scoreboard will have the number of assignments submitted and the teachers for each subject. I plan on creating a tangible scoreboard that will be placed in the middle school hallway in between the two displays of framed student work. I will be placing it in this specific location so that it is in view where everyone, even students could see it. That way, even though the students aren’t the ones being measured, they, too, will begin rooting for their teachers.
Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
We will need to make sure we are intentional about scheduling regular meetings with all parties involved that will be helping make this initiative happen. During this pilot year, I will need to meet briefly with my Director of Fine Arts, Academic Dean, and leaders of the Covenant team on a weekly basis to touch base and talk about ways we can improve the “standings” on the scoreboard. We will specifically reflect on last week’s measures, review the scoreboard to see if our lead and lag measures are making progress, and finally, we will need to make commitments for the upcoming week. These will take place during PLC Mondays, to ensure that it meets everyone’s schedules, and will only be about 15-20 minutes long.
As I conclude this post, I hope it is evident how the 4DX strategy can help us all execute our goals in the midst of our everyday whirlwind. I’m including the video below to help with your understanding of how the 4DX strategy works.
Click here to access a full interactive view of my TACKK board.
Covey, F. (2012). Executive Overview of the 4 Disciplines of Execution [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZR2Ixm0QQE&feature=youtu.be
McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your
Wildly Important Goals. London: Simon & Schuster.