Deborah, I really like your discussion of innovation and ecosystems:
An ecosystem is a complex community of interconnected organisms in which each part, no matter how seemingly small, has an active, agentic part to play in the community. There are constant interdependent relationships and influences. The notion of an ecosystem of education resonates with Bob Garmston and Bruce Wellman’s third Adaptive Schools underlying principle of what they call ‘nonlinear dynamical’ systems: that tiny events create major disturbances. This principle reflects the way change often happens. The little things we change or do can have unexpected, chaotic, incremental effects that are difficult to quantify or not immediately noticeable.
Working as one of those ‘little things’ that come into the school it can be easy to bring in a script when arriving at a new school. The problem is that each school is made up of many other ‘little things’. I have therefore found it more useful to gauge as much about the school’s context as quickly as possible and then re-framing my message to fit.
Tom Critchlow describes this as ‘client ethnographies‘:
Every time you’re on-site with a client’s organization you’re studying the people, the behaviours, the motivations. You’re asking questions of as many people as you can.
While Doug Belshaw talks about the dangers of dead metaphors and failed frameworks:
So although it takes time, effort, and resources, you’ve got to put in the hard yards to see an innovation through all three of those stages outlined by Jisc. Although the temptation is to nail things down initially, the opposite is actually the best way forward. Take people on a journey and get them to invest in what’s at stake. Embrace the ambiguity.
Although it can be a challenge to find the time and resources, without it change is often frustrating to say the least.