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The Power of Us, to me, feels like the perfect text to, not only wrap up our 2020, but also as a tool to reflect as we set ourselves up for the challenges of our post-covid normal in 2021.

In his most recent text, David highlights examples of strong and innovative organisations ranging from Craft Breweries (BrewDog) to the WD-40 company in addition to a range of pioneering learning communities, such as The Liger Leadership Academy in Cambodia and New Roads School in Santa Monica. Despite the diverse and distinct contexts, David draws our attention (through detailed case studies) to the aspects they have one in common.

The power of collaboration through people powered innovation.

Over the course of 2020, the community at The Knox School have pulled together and collaborated across multiple projects and in truly diverse ways. From the whole school virtual dance, to the TKS Learning Design Guide, the co-designed blueprint for our pedagogy underpinning Home Campus learning.

As a result of this approach, with a culture and a collective mind-set open to collaboration, TKS has truly thrived through the complexities of 2020 and has emerged with a sense of optimism and excitement for the challenges of 2021. Yes, we are tired. Really really tired. But the optimism is palpable and this is a credit to the outstanding TKS staff and the wider TKS community.

In his text, David highlights 8 principles of organisations who embody what he refers to as, people powered innovation.

Quite fittingly, he uses the acronym TEAM:

  • T – Trust and Transparency
  • E – Engagement and Equity
  • A – Autonomy and Agency
  • M – Mastery and Meaning

David likens such fundamental design principles to the system of Hugelkulter* used in raised bed gardening, he argues that in ensuring a sustainable feed of nutrients coming from the ground up aligned with the appropriate growing medium, allows crops to flourish. Noting that few organisations have fully mastered all aspects, he offers that those that have such principles at their core create the optimal conditions for a culture of collaborative innovation and as with the crops, the organisation will flourish.

As we reflect on the year that was, I think most would agree that, although we may not have had all 8 principles “down pat” at all times, the elements were prevalent and intentional throughout all that we did. The culture of collaboration, of experimenting, taking risks and not being afraid to fail became a part of our DNA.

The world may have changed and many things were out of our control, but one thing was always clear – we were a team.

The text is not homework, it is a gift. A gift that captures our experience of 2020 and provides a framework to help us make sense of what we achieved and celebrate who we are, what we stand for and who we would like to continue to be.

David poses many questions to us in his text – in particular, the question most prominent in our minds:

“The after corona world must be fundamentally changed from the world before corona. How are we preparing the generation who will have to figure it out? “

At TKS, this is our core business; it is what our dedicated staff do every day.

Observing our students working in partnership with our educators, co-designing learning and collaborating as their new norm is a privilege for us all and one that we have an imperative to uphold as we design our post-covid paradigm.

At TKS, “going back to….” Is not a part of our discourse; co-designing our collective future is the narrative we commit to explore.

I take this opportunity to thank each and every one of the dedicated TKS staff for their infinite contributions, for their work as a team and for preparing our current generation of students to figure it all out…

*Hugelkultur (German) a design system that provides a base for long-term growth.

Nikki Kirkup

Nikki Kirkup is Deputy Principal of The Knox School

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