A Radically Different Approach to LifeCollege Management

ImageBakke (2005) outlined a management principle and work ethos that structurally (or un-structured, really) fits a 21st century workplace.

That is, to say, a deviant from the industrial revolution scheme where there are outdated procedural  manuals who nobody really cared to read; people boxed into organizational charts with detailed job descriptions; and because of lack of freedom and accountability, shift supervisors are assigned and wired to be skeptical.

Interestingly, Bakke modeled the approach to our tiny friends who brings delight to afternoon teas–the Bees and their Honeycomb.”Each of these bees can fly individually up to several miles from the hive to the fireweed on that recently logged mountain. They independently collect nectar and make the trek back home. They return to the hive with nectar, which others in the hive use to produce this wonderful honey we use on our toast.” (Bakke, 2005, p.87)

I guess, it is high time to review the processes inside the school’s organisation and see what befits our context against this new model. Interestingly, our goal seems simple, but the tasks so daunting. The goal is to deliver each task that our stakeholders require in the most effective, efficient, and economic manner.

Here are the principles we need to consider to make work fun for every LifeCollege person or people (in contrast to LifeCollege partners- stakeholders).

1. Every person, a business person – a business person is defined as “someone who must steward resources (money, equipment, fuels) to meet a need in society while balancing the contributions and needs of all the stakeholders in groups” (Bakke 2005, p. 88). In other words, every employee is a business person who ensure the best balance of interests among all the persons in the organisation.

2. Every person, a part of a team – The whole company is organised in teams, working groups, or ‘families’. Each family is self-governing and would be responsible for the budget, workload, safety, schedules, maintenance, compensation, expenses, purchase, quality control, hiring, and most other aspects of their work life.  (p.88)

For the most part, they are also responsible for day-to-day operations, investments, maintenance, schedule, long-term strategy, hours of work, hiring and firing, education, safety, environmental management, risk management, budgeting and economic performance, quality control, charity giving, or community relations. (p. 90)

The grouping into multi-skilled and self-managed teams is normally according to expertise: finance and budgeting; long-term planning; safety issues; human resources and the like. (p.90)

3. Every leader exercises participatory management style – That is, the leader would seek out advice from knowledgeable colleagues before making a decision. Suggestions are welcomed and rewarded, but the boss still makes the final decision. In this way, the group either vote among themselves or discuss the matter until they had a consensus.

4. Every person, a learner – Whilst every teacher devotes 80% of time working on the primary tasks: syllabus writing, lesson planning, test writing, checking attendance, recording and grading achievements, and organizing parents-teacher conference, and class team building, 20% of their time must be spent on participating in special tasks, giving advice, learning new skills, working on projects not necessarily related to their primary responsibility.

5. Every person in the central staff group, a servant – The primary task is to bring fun and fulfillment in the workplace. No matter how tedious that task seemed as taking charge of the values, financial modeling, strategic planning, teaching, leading teams and task forces, and participating in the advice process. People here are the most selfless, humble, and willing to delegate. They delegate because they believe that (1) people are always wiser than how executives think about them; and (2) if these people make a wrong move, they will have satisfaction and will grow because they make it.

6. Every person involved, a decision maker – Every person is a proactive contributor in terms of ideas and solutions to problems. Once this person made a decision, the group, the team, and the entire company take responsibility for it. A person may be asked to decide because he is the one greatly affected, or the one who initiated the idea, discovered a problem, or saw the opportunity. He may not be the official leader but he seeks advice from leaders and from peers.

Implications to LifeCollege 

As we claim to become 21st century learning hub, we now move towards analysing our own system and processes. We look at how the current practices and realities may or may not fit the direction we are going to. Hence, we are ready to adopt and we seek opportunities to adopt.

Just last school year, we started revising our organizational chart and make it a circle, representing clear family relations lines, the top management are inside while the frontliners are outside, as they are the window to the world. Levels are categorised into teams as K1-G1, G2-G4, G5-G7, G8-10. Each team has an assigned team leader and is being trained to handle other tasks for that level. The underlying principle here is to connect the learning areas into 21st century learning themes and let each level teams discuss, decide, and decipher the age-appropriate and level-appropriate knowledge, skills, understanding, and products/performance to be used inside the classroom.

At the end of the day, if we say that learning is fun-filled experience at the college, then the workplace or the work environment must also be fun and fulfilling for every LifeCollege person.

Reference:

Bakke, Dennis W. 2005. Joy At Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun in the Job. Seattle: PVG