I just submitted my proposal to serve as the facilitator for the September meeting of the Washington State Board of Education. Travel won’t be the most convenient, but getting to fly in and out of Seattle, visit some friends, drive across the mountains to Yakima, and work with educators, policy wonks and politicians would be exciting.
Below is what I’ve told them I would do and how I would approach the work.
I’m interested in what others might think about this proposal.
PROJECT WORK PLAN
Based upon the RFP, our plan would entail the following:
- Consult with Board executive team to identify meeting goals and produce agenda after review of past meeting minutes and reports.
- Clarify level of relationship and familiarity among board members to determine usefulness of spending some focused time building rapport among participants to enhance work environment and boost productivity of board meeting time.
- Based upon goals and agenda, select processes that will enable board to accomplish its work efficiently and effectively while furthering its commitment to the mission:
- Facilitate meeting in collaboration with Board executives.
- Prepare and submit report of the meeting outcomes.
- Provide advocacy and strategic oversight of public education;
- Implement a standards-based accountability system to improve student academic achievement;
- Provide leadership in the creation of a system that personalizes education for each student and respects diverse cultures, abilities, and learning styles; and
- Promote achievement of the Basic Education Act goals of RCW 28A.150.210.
We have over 20 years of experience facilitating event planning and the events themselves. This has included medical staff training with Veterans Administration Hospitals, city and county governments, non-profit organizations, and corporations. The coach approach to facilitation is focused on building leadership capacity within the leaders and members of the group. Current reading in the areas of leaderless organizations and the work at Harvard Business Review in Military Leadership (particularly ideas like “commanders intent”) focus on building shared vision and leadership capacity across all levels of an organization. This again relates directly to the field of Systems Theory, which recognized and capitalizes on the interconnections among the disparate parts of an organization.
My own professional experience has included several years of college level teaching at two schools. My family has been committed to public education for five generations, and I would be pleased to support the work of the Washington State Board of Education in its endeavors. While I am based in Texas, I am building a national and international clientele and am happy to do the necessary travel.
Successful meeting leadership requires balancing the identified goals and agenda that the organization has for the meeting with the individual participants’ personal and professional needs and motivations for sharing in the work. In other words, the leaders need to be clear on what they want accomplished. Further, the participants need to see their place in that, and feel that they are making a meaningful contribution to that work and recognize how it relates to the larger organizational vision, and hopefully also how it advances their own personal goals for their life and career. These competing claims are balanced in two ways. 1) The leader determines the goals of the group and plans the meetings needed to accomplish those goals (preferably in consultation with a select few direct reports and others – remember we are trying to build leadership capacity at all levels). 2) The leader plans multiple types of meetings to address the various needs of stakeholders. Some meetings provide a setting for collaborative brainstorming of emerging challenges and responses. Others are geared toward developing a particular solution and moving it toward concrete action. Still others are on their surface simply about reporting decisions already made or conveying other important information. Different temperaments of leaders are disposed and repelled by these three types of meetings, as are the people being led. Thus a balance is required to keep everyone engaged and to accomplish all of the work to be done as effectively as possible. Transactional leaders should not lead half day visioning retreats. Similarly, big-picture leaders should probably not lead budget meetings, which would then devolve into navel gazing and never complete the concrete and serious tasks at hand. Both types of leaders and meetings are necessary and important. Understanding which is called for at any given time requires forethought, and humility on the part of the leader to recognize – I cannot do everything with equal effectiveness. This again is where the diversity available becomes such a huge asset. The more types of people in the more places, the more likely the organization is to have competent leaders and managers in each area who can rise to the challenges, and pass along their particular expertise to others.