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There is a tremendous amount of positive energy around the launch of our new strategic plan, and we have begun to pivot from the work of forming a compelling vision to fulfilling big goals.

The path from idea to execution can trip up many a well-intentioned strategic plan. The CA Leadership Team has been thinking hard about how we need to organize ourselves to get this important work done, and we’ve been informed by Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation and John Kotter’s work on change management.

We are organizing our thinking around three aspects of innovation — sustaining, disrupting and diffusing — and calling this our superstructure. We’ve chosen to focus on the word innovation in part because it is one of the core components of our mission, but also because we believe that innovation captures the forward-thinking, entrepreneurial spirit of Cary Academy. We want our students to be prepared for today and have the tools to tackle unknown challenges in the future.

Our superstructure provides an organizational framework to hold ourselves accountable for different parts of the strategic plan. Below, I will break out each area of this superstructure in a bit more detail.

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Sustaining innovation at Cary Academy means focusing on the core of what we are all about: excellent teaching and learning. This part of our superstructure can be thought of as a hierarchical approach to continual school improvement. We have a current system in place to get this work done, through our dean of faculty, our principals, and our department heads. We are now exploring the process of design thinking as shared language for developing ideas and solving problems. In our first year, a new sustaining innovation will be to launch our first-ever cross-divisional curriculum review cycle, starting with math, science, and health.

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Disruptive innovation at Cary Academy means having a system to allow for smaller-scale research and development and the willpower to foster new ideas. This part of our superstructure can be thought of as a bottom-up way to nurture creative thinking. To make this happen, we have hired a new director of technology and innovation, who sits on our Leadership Team. In our first year, we will be launching a Research and Development Team to provide support for the incubation of ideas and prototypes.

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Diffusing innovation hits at a core founding vision for Cary Academy: to be a lighthouse school that collaborates within our wider communities. This part of our superstructure can be thought of as a hub to foster engagement. We currently do not have a single individual in charge of this area, but operationally engagement falls into the lap of our director of diversity and inclusion, our service learning director, and our entire advancement team. In our first year, we are conducting a communications audit and experimenting with the ways that proximity might foster new collaborations (by physically moving people next to each other).  

Our future is bright, and we believe this new superstructure will give us a way to take our inspirational goals and make them our new reality.