High Performance Cultures – improving your school by defining, focusing on, and promoting, what matters most.

This is a playbook for school leadership teams who wish to ‘shift’ the culture of their school. It was written out of interest in how the environment can be deliberately manipulated to achieve and sustain success.

“Leaders [must] determine how cultural elements will help them, will hinder them, or will become change targets in their own right.”

Organisational Culture and Leadership, Schein, 2004

Examples of high performance seem easy to find. We are surrounded by individuals, teams and organisations for whom success seems part of their DNA. However if such examples of sustained success are ‘easy’ to find they are less easy to explain. This Playbook is my attempt to explain the part culture plays in enduring success.

A high performance culture might be described as ‘whatever those who are serial winners do in order to remain so.’ On the face of it, it seems true. Any definition of high performance is framed by the tendency to see it as measured objectively and by results, successes or outperforming the competition. Culture, on the other hand is often ‘seen’ retrospectively and subjectively – the ‘stuff’ which lies behind success.

Working on High Performance Cultures becomes more complex when we consider that high performance might not just be about winning but also achieving more with less. In addition, culture, far from being visible and stable is, as the guru of organisational culture Edgar Schein says, ‘deep, pervasive, complex, patterned, and morally neutral.’ For Schein culture simply exists. It doesn’t signify success.

In the Playbook I advocate spending time with your leadership team asking priming questions before looking for evidence about your culture. You may find that the process of asking questions, selecting others to be involved and spotlighting evidence plays its own significant part in shifting your culture. We become the tools we choose to use.

Try reading, sharing and using the Playbook. Get in touch if you want to talk about it!