Close your eyes for a moment and picture yourself as a child. Think back to when you and your friends would spend all day outdoors. As you think about these times, picture the local playgrounds you would visit.
What do you remember about these playgrounds? What was the first piece of equipment you and your friends would run to? Perhaps it really fast slide. Or a set of tall swings. Or some monkey bars you would climb across.
Or, perhaps it was a heavy, old-fashioned merry-go-round.
I want you to think about that merry-go-round for a moment. Think about the amount of effort it took for the giant wheel to move. You and your friends used all of your strength and pushed with every ounce of energy you had. Eventually, the merry-go-round would start to inch forward.
As the wheel started to turn, you kept pushing with even greater effort. Eventually, the giant wheel completed one entire turn. But you couldn't stop after just one rotation… you had to keep pushing until the giant wheel started to move faster. Two turns...four turns...the merry-go-round was building momentum.
Eight turns...sixteen...thirty-two! Finally, all of your focused energy and hard work pushing the giant wheel provided you and your friends a chance to jump on board as the wheel flew forward with almost unstoppable momentum. You had reached a point of breakthrough!
This vision of the merry-go-round is an analogy to the work we are doing in our school district. In our organization, we have identified five "strategic anchors." These anchors are as follows:
Attract & Retain Great Staff
Guarantee Exceptional Learning Opportunities
Emphasize Data and Measure Progress
Inspire Success & Share OUR Story
Cultivate a Culture of Excellence
We believe when our district makes a series of disciplined decisions consistent with our five strategic areas our small wins will accumulate into bigger victories. Over time, these actions will compound and morph into unstoppable momentum - similar to a merry-go-round moving at full speed.
This theory of leadership was popularized in the Good to Great research by Jim Collins. In his books, Collins discusses the idea of a flywheel. He suggests when organizations focus on a handful of interconnected concepts - and execute those strategies at a high level over a long period of time - the organization will eventually reach a point of breakthrough.
Similar to when you and you friends approached that merry-go-round at the park, we understand simply getting the wheel to move is the hardest part of gaining momentum. However, we believe once the giant wheel starts accelerating, the real fun will begin.