Culture Whups Strategy

by Jean Tower


A colleague was looking for advice from a group of school technology leaders. He described a situation where schools A, B, and C in his district were adopting technology and embracing initiatives at a reasonable pace. There were some leaders and some stragglers and lots of people in the middle moving along. Not perfect, but perfectly normal.

But in school D, nothing was happening; people ignored technology or complained about it. The technology coaches felt they were not able to move the needle at all. When he talked to staff they had lots of complaints, from the age of the equipment, the speed of the connection, and the lack of time. Which astounded him, because school D has everything schools A, B, and C, have – similar in every way, and equitable. So, he asked his colleagues – what is going on? I was immediately reminded of the Peter Drucker quote – Culture eats strategy for breakfast.


It sounded to me like the culture of the building was at work. When I asked if that was possibly the answer every other colleague at the table chimed in with a case when they had seen the same thing and it was the culture, and the school leader was either unaware, or unwilling or unable to change it. My question is this – is it possible to make progress in this building, so that the teaching and learning practices approach the other three buildings, in spite of the culture? How?

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