Changes in our world are occurring at warp speed. Whatever form it takes, change is upon us. Insightful organizations will be ready; Maricopa Unified School District (MUSD) is ready to be insightful. Today’s students must be able to quickly adapt to an increasingly chaotic, yet opportunity-filled, global environment. In this era of uncertainty — globalization, innovative thinking, rapid technology breakthroughs and stunning emerging opportunities for student growth — students must learn new leadership skills that are critical to addressing future situations.
In the book “Leaders Make the Future,” author Bob Johansen notes that “most of our current leadership models are based on the present and past, not the future … in the years ahead, there will be fewer problems that can be solved. Instead, our students will have dilemmas, which are basically unsolvable problems, and these will require a different set of leadership skills.” Organizations that ignore the trend toward greater diversity and inclusiveness will lack the skills to overcome these dilemmas.
I recently returned from Alexandria, Va. where we were the only Arizona district invited to the National School Improvement Symposium, hosted by ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development).
ASCD is an insightful organization, and their new “futuring” statement, titled “Revolutionizing the Way We Learn,” is driven by the need for school organizations to renew relevance in the classroom, create new solutions to challenges facing 21st century learners, and to define the niche, or “Blue Ocean,” in our community and state.
By adopting this statement for MUSD, we are defining our niche by critically facing our challenges, openly embracing our diversity and striving toward excellence. In order to achieve these imperatives, we must revolutionize the way we lead, which, in turn, requires us to think and act in new ways. The current thrust of leadership and boardsmanship at MUSD is centered on building leadership and stimulating value creation. The entire district’s work is intense, experiential and applied; rich in skill development; fully practical and oriented to student achievement and increased learning results.
The thrust into our future requires students, teachers, parents and community members who are predisposed to imagine what does not yet exist, to move forward with intention and purpose, to create new reality and meaning, and to address practical challenges. We at MUSD are, and will continue to be, a community dedicated to student success.
This implies thinking differently, collaborating in the face of uncertainty. Thinking differently means encouraging divergence of thought, rather than seeking convergence, while at the same time remaining focused on the objective.
Learning differently — seeking out different viewpoints and experiences — immersion in a variety of perspectives and cultures is critical for the leaders of tomorrow to compete globally.