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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

What Issues Get Traction?

A long time ago when I read the book, Intentional Interruption, I learned how issues that impact us with great emotion and surprise often seem bigger than they are. Since then I've noted in multiple discussions how this remains true since sometimes issues that impact few get the most traction because of the alarm and worry those issues create. In truth, if we work against this and use a more fair minded and holistic approach to identifying issues that matter, we might likely avoid spending our time and money on issues that have less impact, and instead focus on the issues that truly do make a big difference and may mitigate those troubling, small-impact issues altogether.

How do we do this?

First we have to make time to look at the big picture with statistics, experiences, and observation. Before we enter any conversation or focus, we need to look at the numbers and depth of the issue with questions such as how many people does this impact, what is the depth of this issue's impact, and what is the interest in making change in this area?

For example as I think about the curriculum program, I wonder about the impact of inadequate staffing--if we don't have enough staff to meet the evident needs of students will that result in greater needs in other areas--needs that create more emergency situations? How do we measure this issue and look deeply at it?

Another example could include the impact of poverty or lack of social programs, and how underfunding and staffing related programs with fidelity and good effort may lessen issues in other areas--issues that eventually cost a lot of money and create sadness and troubles. Do we need more holistic community approaches to serving students and families well so that we are making deep and impactful change rather than embracing actions that have less positive impact?

As you can see, I'm thinking about the processes we use to identify issues of importance and the channels we support, staff, and utilize to make significant change so that we well direct our time and money.