Think big, act small, learn fast

One of the major challenges we face as we attempt to innovate in education is that the impact of innovation is so hard to measure. Not only are we working with complex humans in a hugely complex system but educational, wellbeing, and developmental outcomes are sensitive to an immeasurable number of inputs and variables.

Sometimes we fall into the trap of trying to collect an excessive amount of data in order to capture a comprehensive ‘picture’. This is a flawed approach for two reasons. First, we end up drowning in huge swathes of data that tell too many stories. And second, it is impossible to capture the full picture anyway. There will always be variables that we have failed to consider or are impossible to measure, control or eliminate.

Here’s what schools that are really harnessing effective innovation are doing:

  1. Clearly identify the specific change you would like to see.
  2. Choose a simple, discrete, well-defined outcome to measure.
  3. Identify a tool that effectively measures this outcome.
  4. Conduct targeted, meaningful experiments.
  5. Measure the impact.
  6. Learn.

Innovation is the result of insight gained from action. When we’re strategic, targeted and patient, rather than instinctive, sweeping and reactive, then we really have the chance to powerfully and confidently innovate.

Think big, act small, learn fast.

Published by

David Bott

Hi, I'm David Bott, Associate Director of the Institute of Positive Education in Australia.

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