Monday, July 16, 2012

Germinate Solutions to Problems Over Time

There is no rush to find a solution to a problem unless it poses an immediate threat to someone's well-being. It's easy to come up with quick responses to challenges that come the way of an educational leader but more difficult to find the patience to take a few steps back and let the resolution form over time.

Giving a resolution to a challenge time to "flower" by sifting it back and forth can lead to all kinds of creative ideas. Germinating a solution to a problem is something in which the most prosperous organizations engage.

Apple Computer's Jony Ive (chief designer for what is currently the world's richest company) said in a recent interview:

"What I love about the creative process, and this may sound naive, is this idea that one day there is no idea, and no solution, but then the next day there is an idea. Where you see the most dramatic shift is when you transition from an abstract idea to a slightly more material conversation."

Educational leaders can have "material conversations" with their colleagues as well. Talking through the nuances of an issue with other educators can lead to more concrete solutions. I've failed at solving problems when I haven't taken the time to talk to principals, supervisors, or teachers who may be directly impacted by the problem. When I do walk the halls and seek input about a problem, I come away with: 1. A thoughtful solution. 2. The accurate projection that I am a collaborative leader who wants to work out issues that address everyone's needs. 3. Acknowledgement by those with whom I speak that I value their opinions.

My failures and successes have taught me that calling a parent back after listening to her concern, telling a teacher who stops me in the hall that I will get back to him within a few days, explaining to a principal or supervisor that I have to "sit" on the situation before making a decision is completely acceptable and will, in the end, reap more benefits than if I were to posture as if I had all the answers to questions and solutions to problems in an instant.

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