Monday, August 19, 2013

We Each Need a Tool Box and a Team

I have used this graphic already for a previous post but I came across it again tonight and it sparked a thought that tied to a couple of other things I have been thinking about.  The first is this Simon Sinek clip about having a personal "Creativity Tool Box". 
If a person doesn't have a "tool box" to draw from it would be difficult to see the road to success as anything other than what is portrayed on the left hand side of the diagram above.  "If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."  You could hammer harder or hammer longer but if the problem is not a nail chances are you are going to get the same result no matter what you do with the hammer.  You either win or you fail.

When someone has a tool box they can travel a different path.  They may start out thinking the problem is a nail but when the hammer doesn't work they can go to their tool box and use a different tool.  That tool may or may not work but it doesn't matter because eventually one of the tools will.  That person will persevere as long at they feel they still have tools left in their box to try. 

The idea of a toolbox is not really a new one.  It's been tossed around a lot.  Perhaps the paradigm shift here is the statement in the video that when we build our toolboxes we should be focusing on amplifying our strengths rather than on improving our weaknesses.

This challenges us in education to think beyond individuals traveling down isolated paths learning to use tools outlined in a curriculum one after another as they move along a pre-defined path from "uneducated" to "educated".  The sad reality of this approach is that it does mimic the left hand side of the above diagram with the potential to reach a dead-end failure.

It may mean recognizing that for some students it really doesn't matter if they are able to use a specific tool for a specific purpose in an isolated context.  Rather, we should be aiming for that student to have the skills he/she would need to be a part of a team that is planning, building and decorating an entire house.  Not everyone would have to come with the same toolbox and not everyone would come to do the same job. Even those doing the same job might use different tools and complete the task in different ways.

What would matter is that everyone knew how to work together, who to go to or what sources of information they have when they came upon a barrier and how to bring their own gift forward in creating the best house possible.  What would also matter is that the house can't be built without the unique contribution of each person on the team. It seems that if each person worked to develop their own tool box and amplify their strengths so that they were able to "bring value to a team" they would be in a much better position to be ready for an ever evolving and increasingly connected world.

But what about those students who do not seem to have a gift that could be amplified? Where is there value in all of this?  When we shift our thinking from isolation to collaboration, we start to see that there are two ways to contribute - we contribute by "being" and we contribute by "being".  We all have our own unique balance in how much of each we do.  Our contribution about "being" is related to how we make other members of the team feel about themselves and about what we are doing.   person makes others in a team feel will impact the overall quality of the end product.  It has nothing to do with we perceive to be "elite" skills or abilities.  A great example of the contribution of "being" is Rudy.  Everybody has some strength to amplify but this might mean thinking of strengths as not only those things we are good at by ourselves but also those things that can only really come through when working as a member of a team. 


1 comment:

  1. It may mean recognizing that for some students it really doesn't matter if they are able toolox to use a specific tool for a specific purpose in an isolated context.