The Logistics Filter

The Logistics Filter
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Have you heard the joke about the logistic-minded bride-to-be?  It goes like this.  Once there was a man who fell in love.  He couldn’t imagine living a day without his perfect wife, so mustering all of his courage he got down on one knee and asked his potential fiancé the big question, “will you marry me?”  Understanding how important of a question this was the bride paused to think deeply about what she was being asked, and finally replied, “is the chapel available on that day?”

Alright, I’ll be the first to admit I shouldn’t quit my day job for a new career in comedy.  Still my joke has an important lesson, when dealing with matters of the heart don’t think about the logistics.  Of course, that’s not to say that logistics aren’t important, in fact they’re crucial, and really what helps the world go round, but our communities suffer when when we allow logistics to determine our school programs.

…when an organization lacks a powerful mission and vision, it defaults decision making to a logistic filter, which often asks the wrong question “could we do it?” instead of “should we do it?”

Lately, I’ve been reminded by the good work Sherry Miller and her crew at Empowerment Unlimited have done to transform schools to help refresh and discover their core mission, vision, and purpose (check out my interview with her here).  Core mission and vision?  Yeah those things we have written in our admissions literature and handbooks.  Often these statements and goals never come off the paper their written on, and at the very least do little to transform and lead the schools for whom they’re created.  Of course this doesn’t mean that schools without vibrant mission and vision statements don’t have a powerful decision making tool, because they do, the all-powerful logistics filter.

Which brings me back to my joke and my main point of this blog entry, when an organization lacks a powerful mission and vision, it defaults decision making to a logistic filter, which often asks the wrong question “could we do it?” instead of “should we do it?”  The difference between these two words is critical, when you ask “could” first you might forget to ask “should.”  On the other hand if you ask “should” first you determine whether “could” even needs to be asked.   And if if you say yes to “should” you put logistics back to where it belongs, serving our schools and the program, not running it.

This leads to my second point, everyone matters.  When it comes to running a school everyone needs to have a say in determining the mission and vision, but just as important is that everyone at the school understands their role in connection with living out that mission.  I think James Dalziel, Head of UWC Singapore has said it best saying,

“I’m a firm believer [that everyone in the] building [needs to be able to] work with kids.  That goes from people coming in at lunch time to help with violin lessons, to the Vice Principal, to a chemistry teacher, to a school secretary…every adult in the building matters. They have to have that energy, passion and belief aligned with our beliefs…and [what’s critical] is finding those great people who are passionate about what they do and their work with kids.”

When we all serve the mission, it’s become more clear that logistics, preference, and ease come after purpose.

How’s your school doing with this?  Has there been a clear direction for learning and the future, or is the logistics filter pushing great learning to the side?

Author: Andy Aldrich

Andy is a founder of Learn[ed]Leadership as well as a school administrator at Punahou School in Honolulu, HI. In addition to pontificating on ideas in education, Andy stays busy chasing after his daughter and impressing his wife with his big muscles.

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