In April, my colleague Dr. KK Owen shared about the challenge of leadership, writing:

Competitiveness depends in great part on the ability to innovate. The perennial challenge, then is to build an organization capable of innovating again and again.

More about this challenge of leadership via Harvard Business Review (here). At the Florida Sterling Council’s annual conference yesterday, Dr. JoAnn Sternke, Superintendent of the Baldrige award-winning Pewaukee School District spoke about innovation. Below is one of her introductory slides:


Sternke often shares the actions she and her colleagues take to “create a culture for innovation” within the Pewaukee School District. She once described the Baldrige excellence criteria coupled with evidence-based leadership as providing a framework for “freedom (to innovate) within fences” (#WRIE 2014).

So, how? Here’s 4 ways to get started:

Use an existing “excellence” or continuous improvement framework to provide leaders the freedom to create and innovate, and “test” and “tweak” leading practices.

Connect to state programs like Florida’s Sterling Council, Kentucky’s Prichard Committee and Kentucky Center for Performance Excellence , the Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence, and Quality Texas Foundation showcase best practices and provide resources for leaders and organizations seeking excellence.

Attend “excellence” related educational conferences focused on continuous improvement practices that showcase district leaders who have earned success. Any of the above state quality organizations do this; the Carnegie Foundation also hosts these and we host an annual What’s Right in Education conference.

Use Twitter chats (e.g., #suptchat, #isupt, #satchat, #cpchat, #connected) to develop a professional learning network of peer superintendents, principals, or board members… and engage with them! Here’s one happening tonight:


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Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and a leading service provider for improving education and healthcare outcomes in organizations throughout the world. Studer Group coaches have partnered with more than 1,000 organizations to help them achieve exceptional results while sustaining and accelerating success over time. Using an evidence-based leadership framework, Studer Education coaches support the critical work of school systems by helping leaders align organizational goals, behaviors, and processes to increase employee and community engagement, to create great school and district cultures, and to continuously improve the quality of education and services provided to all stakeholders.

Filed under: How to Lead…, Our Partners Tagged: Innovation

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