These examples illustrate a pattern of problems encountered in every change process. Potential solutions to a problem always generate paradoxes
and barriers that create new problems, which get in the way of the original solutions. As illustrated, the trick in the 15% approach to change is to
recognize that this is always the case and use the successive paradoxes to find new solutions that can drive the system to higher levels of
accomplishment within the overall vision to be achieved. In the example the blocks to effective collaboration were used to redefine and streamline
the collaborative process, so that it's fundamental nature and intent was preserved within a division of labor saving enormous time and energy, while
producing high quality results.
Many school cultures have been similarly transformed by simple, high-leverage initiatives, often informal, that have had a dramatic impact. If we want
to create genuine cultural change in our schools, we can do no better than find the 15% initiatives that will make a difference:
- A school's office staff is finding the school day subject to constant interruption from adults searching for the Adult Education Centre. By
introducing a simple sign and painting yellow footprints along the corridor 95% of the inquiries are removed.
- Middle school children have developed a tradition of being late for class. The issue of "late slips" and the subsequent processing is
becoming a significant administrative burden. By playing music from the William Tell Overture three minutes before class, followed by a
thirty second theme from a Star Wars soundtrack most of the lateness problem disappears. The music acts as an unofficial prompt that
"gets" students to class right on time.
- A school wants to beautify the school yard to create a more attractive welcoming atmosphere. Unfortunately, its flowerbeds are
constantly vandalized. Planted flowers rarely last more than a couple of weeks. So the principal gets the children to plant the flowers
and puts up a sign saying "Flowers Planted by the Children of the School." The problem disappears, allowing the landscaped area to
be increased to three times the original size.
"15% initiatives" can be used to implement the major policy issues in education today, and to improve schooling on a daily basis. They offer a
systematic way of mobilizing continuous innovation throughout a school or school district, and for creating significant cultural change.
Creating Quantum Change in Schools and School Administration
We can create quantum change in two ways: by looking for "100%" programmatic, rational solutions to problems, or by looking for more modest
"high leverage" initiatives" that can move a system from vision to reality in a much more direct and effective way.
Educational reform has become trapped by the former approach to change, and needs to give much more attention to the latter. As has been shown,
the 15% principle can be applied to a wide variety of problems and issues, and provides a practical strategy for dealing with the paradoxes and
problems that stall change. Dramatic changes in educational administration are much easier to create than is commonly believed, can be far less
painful, and cost a lot less in time, energy and money than we realize.
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[Speeches and Workshops]