Of the readings, two struck me most:  the excerpt  from How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and the slideshow notes from Netflix:  Resource Guide on Our Freedom & Responsibility Culture. In so many ways, these very different texts were illuminating the same idea:  What’s working and how can we do more of it?

The Heath’s point out that focusing on a situation’s “bright spots” and looking for ways to expand those brights spots is a more home-grown and successful method than analyzing all the reasons behind a problem.  In the Netflix philosophy, they reward employees who meet high standards and weed out the underperformers to make room for more “stunning colleagues.”  In both texts, the authors believe that focusing on and building more of what works is the key.

I particlulary liked the Netflix concept:

We’re a team, not a family.  We’re like a pro sports team, not a kid’s recreational team.  Coaches’ job at every level of Netflix is to hire, develop and cut smartly, so we have stars in every position.

My question:  It actually came up during last week’s teacher fishbowl:  as educators, we have a duty to serve ALL students, not just the most successful.  Is it hypocritical or somehow dangerous to weed out teachers with the severity suggested by Netflix?  If we “focus on the bright spots” and aim to support teachers who are underperforming, are we wasting students’ valuable time and schools’ limited resources?  Who would be left if we asked ourselves, as Netflix does, Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving in two months for a similar job at a peer company, would I fight hard to keep? My fear is that, in the world of teaching, those left standing may be a very small group.  My hope is that, those left standing would raise the bar and welcome bright new “stunning collegues.”  Of course, the next step of the Netflix philosophy was paying people what they are worth so….

5/17/2012 20:50:47

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