Design Thinking, Innovation and the Future of Independent Schools

Get ready – I am starting the new year by bragging. I am so excited to share the people and programs of CAIS, that you may start to feel that my zealous-like enthusiasm has gone too far.

Here goes – In my opinion, there are three resources that everyone who is passionate about the future of education should read:

  1. “How Independent Schools Can Ward off Disruption” and “One more way…” by Michael Horn, Co-Founder of the Christensen Institute
  2. Sizing Up the Competition by Heather Hoerle, ED of SSATB
  3. The CAIS 2051 Research – This is the link to our resource page, but stay tuned… our full report will be shared at next month’s Heads and Chairs conference.

I make no apologies for including our CAIS work on this list. Here’s why.

First. Read the first two articles and you will see that our summer incubator at St Margaret’s, with our emphasis on the dual challenge of academic and business innovation, is exactly the kind of innovative thinking that is required to ensure permanent and strong independent schools.

Second. Our incubator actually began before we met. Our Advisors planned a research agenda that included a search for 25 schools outside of Canada that are actually doing something that meets the dual challenge. We all know the theory, but we also all know how hard it is to manage change. So who is actually innovating and making it work? CAIS found the schools and our 44 participants dug deep into them.

Third. Our incubator began with a session on Design Thinking by Jennifer Riel from Rotman’s. She challenged us to ask three questions:

  • What do our customers really need? (We had to make the shift – our customers are our students)
  • How might we better meet those needs?
  • How might we create sustainable advantage?

Fourth. I believe that one of the smartest aspects of Project 2051 was the engagement of our customers, our students. Why was this smart? Because they are! We got the chance to meet with hundreds of students across Canada – in individual schools, with groups of schools and at our CAIS Student Leadership Conference – and we asked just two focus group questions: tell me about your experience with technology and what’s your best advice for schools of the future. These students are brilliant and you would be smart to listen to their sage advice, and then ask your students similar questions. (See our Student Advice presentation here and watch our film this fall.) Makes me feel so proud that our CAIS students have a real stake in designing education for future CAIS students.

One last chance to brag – Our 2051 Participants were incredible! You can check them out in the photo below, and I hope you will invite them to one of your next meetings to share their findings. And if you do? You might go so far as to brag about it.

CAIS 2051 Project Group Photo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s