Compliance Does Not Foster Innovation #IMMOOC

In reading the introduction to Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, one of the quotes that stuck out to me the most in terms of this movement to an innovator’s mindset is that “Compliance does not foster innovation.”


Too often we settle for compliance in education because it’s “easier” and “comfortable” but to really move forward and create spaces for innovation to occur we must move beyond compliance. It reminds of Good to Great by Jim Collins where the enemy of “great” companies and organizations is not “bad” results, employees, or decisions–but actually it’s “good” results, employees and decision. Things can be “good” and lull us into resting in that place cause we are getting by and everyone is relatively happy.

In the same manner I would argue (as I do believe George does too) that “Compliance” is the enemy of innovation in our schools, not defiance or insubordination, but the teachers and students who are simply compliant. Those who play the game, meet the minimum requirements of the school or college of their choice, meet the passing standards set by an appraiser for their position. These actions are the one’s that are limiting our futures as teacher and students.

Don’t misunderstand me, there is a place for following directives in schools, standards are there for a reason. However, if your only measure of success is that you meet or exceed the standards someone else set for you, I believe you are doing this education thing all wrong.

Innovation is what will drive our future economy. Innovative practices are what is needed to see our teachers and students succeed, but first we must break the cycle of conformity and compliance.

The Innovator’s Mindset MOOC #IMMOOC

I challenged my staff to join alongside @gcouros with his Innovator’s Mindset MOOC that starts this week. I am excited to see where this collective MOOC will end up challenging us and pushing us to go. We are so “busy” right now that creative thought almost seems foreign and obtrusive, but I know that for us to continue to challenge the status quo and see change affected across our district, we must be challenging ourselves as well.

 George challenged us to answer the question “Why is ‘innovation’ so crucial to education? What impact do you see it having on our students and ourselves long term?”

So here’s my answer…

Innovation is crucial to us equipping students with the skills necessary to conquer the big world ahead of them. The world has grown smaller and smaller and our problems have been magnified larger and larger. This “awareness” of the problems all around us has, for the most part, only begotten anxiety and sometime outright anger at the world. Looking towards an innovative mindset, or an innovative worldview, would allow us to see the world’s greatest problems as complex challenges that we need to solve. We need to prepare our students to use innovative technology and skills to seek their own answers, to not accept what they hear at face value, but to challenge it with a proficiency that no generation before them had the opportunity to do. 

The long term impact would be a generation that rises to meet the greatest challenges of their time, much like America’s “greatest generation” did many many year ago. That generation did not shrink back from world-wide problems but pulled together to innovatively conquer their greatest fears and anxieties. I think this generation has the potential to do that again, but only if we can equip them to do so. 

Enough of my thoughts. I am ready to read all of yours.