May 30, 2017
The other day, I saw a post on LinkedIn that happened to catch my eye. The post contained six black and white photos of garages. However, these were no ordinary garages, they were the garages where the founders of Apple, Google, Amazon, Harley-Davidson, Disney and Mattel started their businesses. Needless to say, for me this was food for thought. If re-purposed garages were the spawning ground for some of America’s greatest innovators of the 20th century, imagine the enormous untapped potential garages can have as incubators for innovation in this century.
So, here’s an innovative idea for school superintendents to consider. For those of you who are interested in stimulating innovation in your district; the next time you have a school facilities project, rather than adding traditional classrooms to an existing school to ease overcrowding – be innovative and build garages on campus instead. Erecting a garage is easy, cost-effective and you will be able to bring your project to completion on time. You can pitch this idea to your local school board by telling them that “yesterday’s garage is tomorrow’s maker-space.” Not only are garages the holy ground for innovation, but you can also store tons of landscaping equipment in them during the winter months. Innovation loves hybrids and so will your school board.
It gets even better. Let’s take this innovative idea one step further. If you’re familiar with classic rock bands of the 1960’s, you’ve probably heard of the Who, the Kinks, the Byrds, and the Kingsmen (of Louie, Louie fame). And, if you’re a fan of punk rock, you must have heard of the Clash and the Ramones. You guessed it, they all got started in a garage by forming a ‘garage-band.’ Still following me? Now, continuing to think along these lines, what if you changed the organizational design of your high-performing leadership team to that of a rock band?
You, the superintendent of schools as the lead singer, your CFO as the drummer, your Assistant Superintendent as the electric bass player, and your Director of Human Resources and Director of Special Education as your lead and rhythm guitarists. The potential for innovation and collaboration are endless. Your district’s strategic plan might even go platinum. And, best of all, you can reduce your administrative costs by moving your central office team into a garage. Just think, in your garage (now called the Central Station) you can do annual inspections (in the 20th century they used to be called year-end evaluations), and experience change management first-hand by giving your teachers a free oil-change each time they earn 3,000 professional development points.
Robert J. Harris (@edudexterous) is the Founder of Edudexterity.