Tuesday, 13 May 2014


"Whether they burst with excitement or simmer quietly, when you are in the presence of enthusiastic people, you feel happier and more excited about your life, perhaps you even feel inspired."
How do we create a culture of excellence? A culture where everyone goes the extra mile to achieve that bit of magic. A culture where everyone cares about the business and everyone feels a sense of ownership. A culture where everyone is trusted, empowered, valued and respected for the unique contribution they make. A culture that is rooted in developing those unique talents alongside core skills, character and higher level skills.
Interesting question and one I have been wrestling with for the last twenty odd years and something which we discussed when I met my old colleague and friend Neil Straker this morning at the Royal York Hotel. Talking to Neil, who heads up The Pacific Institute (TPI) in the UK, reminded me that at the heart of every successful organisation is a cultural change programme. We used brilliant programmes like 'Investment in Excellence' and 'STEPS' in Leeds to release the magic and the potential in Education Leeds, in challenging schools and in some of the hardest to reach communities. What that work showed me, personally and professionally, was that the keys to success; learning leadership, beautiful systems and intelligent accountability, are underpinned, scaffolded and developed by the culture of organisations, communities and families.

In this fragmented, bitty educational landscape, everyone who cares about learning needs to understand that, wherever you work, live and play, and whatever community you belong to, your beliefs, attitudes, and values determine your choices, your decisions, and your effectiveness. Culture is ‘the way we do things round here’ and it is really important that you think team and regularly check out what it is you and your colleagues, you and your community or you and your family, believe about what you are doing at work, in your community or at home. Research shows that beliefs, attitudes and values are the best predictors of individual behavior and that these things influence and determine everything we do; our perceptions, our judgements, and our behaviours.  Research also indicates that beliefs, attitudes and values are powerful and highly resistant to change and in a world dominated by command and control, blame and risk avoidance it's obvious that to develop creative, cooperative and collaborative approaches we need to share and discuss, and shape and influence the beliefs, values and attitudes driving what we do and shaping our behaviours. That is what the programmes Neil runs through The Pacific Institute like 'Investment in Excellence' and 'STEPS' do so brilliantly!

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