The Dynamic School

Many Christian schools look like their organizational models were copied from an assembly line. Students come in through one door, are serviced by a staff member, move on to another staff member, and so on until they complete the program. The school’s goal is to efficiently serve each student and to serve as many students as possible. Some students will achieve everything the mission promises and others will fall short.

For many years it has been a good model. It allows staff members to specialize and become highly efficient. It keeps costs to a minimum. It is easy to understand and explain. It is how many of the organizations represented by a Christian school’s board members are structured.

However, machines and assembly lines are unable to dynamically change. All of the things that make them highly efficient restrain them from being highly effective when there is variability. The school that is organized like a machine usually gives the average student what the average student needs and gives the atypical student what the average student needs. It is optimized for the benefit of the average student and the operation of the school. Atypical students are almost guaranteed to receive less than they need.

Unfortunately, the atypical student probably needs to be successful more than the average student. Those who are atypical face more challenges and have a harder time being successful.

We live in a time of near-infinite customization of consumer services, which is just what the atypical student needs. However, most schools, especially public schools, are structured in ways that prevent them from being adaptive, agile, and flexible. When your school commits to being adaptive, agile, and flexible, it creates a competitive advantage and reaches a higher level of sustainability. It also positions your school to significantly increase its value to your community. When it has a more adaptive, agile, and flexible culture, it is able to respond quickly to any changes (adverse or advantageous) in the market, new threats from competitors, and changes in societal attitudes or priorities. When schools are unable to be dynamic, donors and the community see the school as less relevant.

Next Step:

Restructure your school to be dynamic and self-organizing so it is highly effective for each student

Give your staff the freedom to be adaptive and experimental

Use the growing success of your atypical students as the benchmark for your commitment to being adaptive, agile, and flexible

Your donors will embrace your efforts to be more dynamic. They want your atypical students to be as well served as the average. They understand that it will cost something to change your processes and that the ongoing operations of a dynamic organization are more expensive. However, schools with services that are tailored to each student’s needs are also more effective and provide more value for their students and community. It is the effectiveness of your school that your donors care most about. It is the effectiveness of your school that attracts more families.

The increased satisfaction of your donors and students will attract additional supporters and increase the perception of your mission’s relevance. It will also help increase your school’s sustainability, enrollment, and retention.

Take It Further:

Ask your fundraising team to become more adaptive, agile, and flexible so that your mission will appeal to a broader group of supporters

Ask your board to help you create a more dynamic organization that is focused first on results rather than on processes, procedures, rules, or financial outcomes (let finance and fundraising worry about the financial results so the rest of your school can concentrate on mission effectiveness)


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