07 August, 2009

Centre of Excellence

In a school, excellence is not just about what the school does, but also how the school does it. Excellent schools are about simultaneously “doing the right things” (i.e. the end product) and “doing things right” (i.e. the process).

A centre of excellence is not created overnight neither a person alone can do it. It is the result of consistent efforts of all involved in the process. Management support, Parent’s concern, Principal’s vision, Teacher’s role and suitable environment are the prerequisites of a good school.

“The three R’s of our school system must be supported by three T’s – Teachers, who are superior; Techniques of instruction that are modern and Thinking about education which places it first in all our plans and hopes.”
(Lyndon B. Johnson)

How does one make a school a centre of excellence?

1. Believe in excellence and be passionate about it. Everything we do must be with a winning attitude and 100% conviction. We must pursue it not only because it delivers better results but because we believe in it and are obsessed by it. The belief should permeate through the organisation.

2. Have faith and belief in our ability to do better. This conviction comes from collective self-confidence and every success further reinforces it. Excellence then becomes a way of life.

3. Excellence goes beyond perfection. It is about doing the best we can and doing it quickly. Excellence requires speed and timeliness as much as it requires perfection.

4. We must understand the term ‘excellence’ as it applies to us. Excellence is a relative concept in a changing world. We cannot be the best in everything we do. We must therefore define what we are or would like to be the best at and accept what some one else can do better. We must concentrate on our core competencies.

5. Create processes that enable excellence. And we must have an in-built strong foundation of technology that keeps these processes updated.

6. Create culture of teaming. We cannot have pockets of individual excellence. The teaming culture then spreads to the rest of the organisation. We need a distributed perspective to leadership that would not be possible if any person worked alone.

7. We must invest in excellence for the future. Though the future is uncertain and may seem distant, we need to prepare ourselves for the change it will bring. There is a temptation to sacrifice the future for short term gains. However strategic planning for the long term and the future roadmap should be made an integral part of school planning. Schools have to prepare students for the 21st century which is characterised by a transforming workplace and economy, a world too complex for an individual to fully understand and a pace of change that requires high degrees of flexibility and tolerance for uncertainty.

8. Excellence demands humility especially when we have reached the peak of excellence and there seems nothing further to do. We need an open mind to look at things differently and allow new inputs to come in. Otherwise there is a real danger of becoming complacent or arrogant.