Hours this week: 4 | Total hours: 4

This week was a bit of a curveball, as I had to pivot to find a new mentor for the summer. Dr. Ipe and I will meet later this summer, but she won’t have availability for me to work with her for all 40 of the hours I need to complete the field study. So I will work with a local superintendent, Dr. Betsy Hargrove of Avodnale Elementary School District, that I know and really respect, and I’ll be excited to get insights on her leadership and work toward change in her district.

I did about four hours of work with and for the superintendent this past week, and I’m looking forward to the week of the 17th, when we’ll probably spend about 20 hours together. The Avondale schools are an exciting place to see change happen on the ground, as Dr. Hargrove and her team of school leaders are looking at innovative and creative ways to help students grow as critical thinkers and communicators and problem solvers. She and her team have begun prototyping how to use ASU’s teacher candidates in a teaming fashion, and I’m excited to see how my work as a design strategist can help facilitate some of the strategic planning and even action research that the Avondale schools do over the course of the summer. The big value add that I believe I bring is my experience with facilitating groups of people, and I’ll be excited to see how I can contribute to their strategic plan and future growth over the coming weeks. Ultimately, I am disappointed not get to explore a leadership context specifically within the university this summer, but under the circumstances and tight timeline, I am thrilled to be working with a visionary superintendent.

It’s also worth highlighting one more facet of my book study this week. I’m reading Michael Fullan’s (2001) Leading in a Culture of Change. As Fullan argues, leadership “is not mobilizing others to solve problems we already know how to solve, but to help them confront problems that have never yet been successfully addressed,” (p. 3). I think in my current work at the intersection of design and organizational leadership and change, this is a really prescient and timely definition of leadership to encounter. Fullan writes about the pace and complexity of change (which was really impressive, given that this book was written in 2001 and still feels contemporary), and how leaders need to be able to help find positive outcomes in the face of wicked problems. I am enjoying this, and am glad to be working through it too.

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in Culture of Change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.