ABEL Leadership Summit: Creative Solutions

This week ABEL hosted another IMG_0916great Leadership Summit facilitated by the I-Think Initiative from the Rotman School of Management.  @nogahK, @cdfederico and @TerriMKC engaged our group in a day of learning around Integrative Thinking.  This was a day about taking risks, being open to new ways of thinking, diving deep into the box, sharing our ideas and learning how to approach problem solving with the tools of integrative thinking.

From sharing “juicy tidbits” in our lives to writing six-word stories, our journey of learning started with engaging ice-breakers that had [Summit - March 2015]_33participants take risks, while creating a safe environment for the day.  I can’t share the “juicy tidbits” from the group, but here are some of the six-word stories created based on what we love about the work we do – inspirational and positive!

  • Value relationships, learning together, epistemological expansion.
  • Listening to student voice; learning together.
  • Inspire, take risks and learn together.
  • Making connections, building confidence. “Ah ha” moments.
  • She thought. She worked. She learned.

So, what is Integrative Thinking? “[Integrative Thinking is] the ability to face constructively the tension of opposing models and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, to generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new model that contains elements of the individual models but is superior to each.” – Roger Martin

IMG_0951It was explained the best by saying what it is NOT: It is NOT compromising; it is NOT negotiating, and it is NOT “out of the box” type solutions. It is finding the solution to your problem by diving really deep into the box to create something new.  You really need to understand the two opposing models, who the important stakeholders are, what are the pros of each model and then create a new model that encompasses the pros.  It is a different way of thinking for problem solving, but it is very structured in its approach. The process involves three steps: articulate the two opposing models; examine the models IMG_0961(pro-pro chart – love this!); and then, explore the possibilities of combining the benefits.

In the afternoon, the facilitators lead us through the process with current issues we are facing in our roles.  Some of the problems participants addressed were:

  • How can instructional coaches offer meaningful support for their district?  Mandated top down versus full autonomy – only do what they are told or do whatever they want?
  • How do we shift pedagogy? Status quo versus innovative practice?
  • How do we “move” a marginalized school? Action plan implemented by school board versus action plan created by staff?
  • How can we deliver PD with the goal to improve pedagogy? Teacher driven versus board driven?
  • When professional learning is offered to schools, what does the principal do? Breadth versus depth – principal is OPEN to all opportunities versus principal FILTERS the opportunities to focus on a few targets.

IMG_0958There certainly was a theme to the problems we face and when the sharing occurred at the end of the day, we could see ourselves trying to solve any of these problems.

Thanks Nogah, Terri and Christopher for a great day!

For more pics, you can go to our Facebook photo album.

A post would not be a post without my funIMG_0910 pic and a conference would not be a conference without challenges.  We truly missed having Karen and Rola (@kmcevoy50 and @rolat) join us – they got stranded in Ottawa as flights were not landing in TO due to the weather.  It was not for lack of trying, as Karen tried to make it here with alternate plans.  See you in April at our next ABEL Leadership Summit: Innovation by Design 🙂


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