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Culture eats strategy

The restaurant nearest our home on this Minnesota lake has a great salad bar (pickled beets) as well as tasty broasted chicken. The LWW and I go there on a fairly regular basis.

The joint also has a unique way of identifying men's and women's restrooms, reflecting the lake environment:

Once in the men's room, you find urinals (no big surprise), but one has this "Hanoi Jane" sticker in the bowl:

Jane Fonda*, an ardent opponent to the Vietnam War, visited Hanoi 42 years ago. 42 years! and some in rural Minnesota have long memories and strong feelings about her actions. 

Culture seems immovable. As the pundits say, "Culture eats strategy for lunch." Here's how Fast Company defines the term:

Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates.

School cultures can be particularly pernicious if they are more reactionary than progressive - or so it seems.

The question I am struggling with is do we try to change cultures or do we figure out how to leverage a culture's values and norms in the hopes of improving school effectiveness? 

Inquiring minds want to know.

* My primary memory of Jane Fonda from the Vietnam era is her costuming in Barbarella, I'm afraid.


When's the last time you asked?



I love 30 second surveys. Amazing how much you can learn as a tech department.


Benefit of the doubt

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

When I walked out of a hotel in Atlanta last week, I saw this SUV parked in a compact car parking spot:

The note taped to the hood read:

We've all had thoughts similar (well, I have anyway). Where does this dork get off parking in a spot reserved for a smaller car? That person walking into the mall - why does he/she merit a handicapped license plate? Is that person in the grocery store just ahead of me really buying a steak with food stamps? Why does the kid wearing $100 sneakers qualify for a reduced price school lunch? Isn't that paper too good not to be plagiarized?

As I thought about the note on the car above, I could easily imagine a dozen reasons a person might squeeze a big vehicle into a small spot in order to be close to the door. Sick kid? Bad foot? Late for important meeting? Big load to carry into the hotel? Great-grandma came along? Only spot in the ramp left? Permission from management?

Or it could just be cussed laziness. Point is, why should we assume bad intentions? Why not assume good reasons?

Seems we do this as a species a lot, especially with students. Presume guilt instead of innocence. Forget Hanlon's Razor (Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.) when somebody screws up.

Lighten up. Presume innocence, stupidity, and often a rational explanation. You'll be happier with the human race - and yourself.