in Productivity

Why we should adopt the OA5 system in education

My friend Paul Lewis, he of the infrequent blogging, very kindly let me have his Dilbert omnibus last year. I’ve been reading it again recently and it’s got me thinking about conformity and creativity. The omnibus brings together 3 Dilbert books into one volume. Joy! :-D

In The Dilbert Principle, Scott Adams outlines the ‘Out At Five’ business model. Enshrined within it are not only some comic gems, but some great pieces of advice. If we stuck to some of these in education, we’d go a long way to reforming the whole system.

He divides his principles into two subcategories:

Staying out of the way

  1. Scott Adams advocates letting the ‘employees dress any way they want, decorate their work spaces any way they want, format memos any way they want’. This is because that there is no proof that any of these impact productivity. Instead, they create a message that conformity is valued above efficiency or creativity. Whilst I would still advocate some form of school uniform to prevent undue focus on students’ clothes, I do think schools in general could be a bit more laid-back about the ways both students and staff express themselves. I’m certainly not saying profanity, drugs and alcohol should be imported to create some type of dystopian educational system. Instead, I’m saying that we should value difference and (that abused word) diversity over conformity and standardization.
  2. Eliminate artificial processes. In businesses these are obvious, but in education they can still be seen. For example ‘Every Child Matters‘ and ‘Personalising Learning’ agendas. They’ve got titles no-one can disagree with, but lead to bureaucracy and a loss of focus on the actual students themselves. It’s my belief that every educator has, at their core, the well-being and interests of students in their charge. As Scott Adams puts it:

If you have a good e-mail system, a stable organization chart, and an unstressed workplace the good ideas will get to the right person without any help The main thing is to let people know that creativity is okay and get out of the way.

What does an OA5 manager do?

  1. Eliminate the assholes. Quite blunt, but you know exactly what he means. There’s people who put a downer on the whole enterprise of education. They’re quick to blame students rather than themselves, they’re more interested in internal politics than student wellbeing and achievement, they like being controversial for the sake of it. Let’s get rid of them. In fact, I’m all for moves to make it easier to remove teachers from their posts. Why should we get, in effect, ‘immediate tenure’?
  2. The second is my favourite: make sure employees (i.e. teachers) learn something new every day. As Scott Adams remarks:

    The more you know, the more connections form in your brain, and the easier every task becomes. Learning creates job satisfaction and suports and person’s ego and energy level.

    But more than that, as teachers, we should be good role-models as everday and curious learners! :-)

  3. Cultivate all the little things that support curiosity and learning. Questions such as ‘What did you learn?’ when you make mistakes are more powerful than, ‘What the hell were you thinking?’
  4. Teach employees how to be efficient. Lead by example – keep meetings short, refuse to take part or go along with low-priority activities because it’s ‘polite’, and (my favourite) respectfully interrupt people who talk too long without getting to the point. I’d force everyone to read blogs such as Lifehacker, Zen Habits and Unclutterer every day. But that’s just me… ;-)

What do YOU think? Besides the name (Out At 5) is there anything with which you’d disagree?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

If you liked this post, you might want to subscribe to my newsletter and explore my ebooks!

Share a Comment

Comment

  1. Why should we ” value difference and …diversity over conformity and standardization”? Adams’ point is that productivity is the goal, so behaviours that do not interfere with that goal should not be prescribed. What is the goal that valuing diversity helps lead to?
    2) “Eliminate artificial processes”. In education, there are more, surely, than merely empty slogans or meaningless acronyms. How about many of the tests? Gatto, for example, told his students there would be no regular, pencil-and-paper tests in his class, but there would be tests: as realistic as possible (see Classrooms of the Heart on Google video for more details). Mager’s Preparing Instructional Objectives is an excellent way to sharpen one’s pedagogical thinking in this matter.

    4) So, you’re a closet fascist, eh? ;-) Efficiency enthusiasts (and non-enthusiasts) should check out 4-hour Workweek by a remarkable young man who lives what he teaches (see his blog for details).

  2. Why should we ” value difference and …diversity over conformity and standardization”? Adams' point is that productivity is the goal, so behaviours that do not interfere with that goal should not be prescribed. What is the goal that valuing diversity helps lead to? 2) “Eliminate artificial processes”. In education, there are more, surely, than merely empty slogans or meaningless acronyms. How about many of the tests? Gatto, for example, told his students there would be no regular, pencil-and-paper tests in his class, but there would be tests: as realistic as possible (see Classrooms of the Heart on Google video for more details). Mager's Preparing Instructional Objectives is an excellent way to sharpen one's pedagogical thinking in this matter. 4) So, you're a closet fascist, eh? ;-) Efficiency enthusiasts (and non-enthusiasts) should check out 4-hour Workweek by a remarkable young man who lives what he teaches (see his blog for details).

  3. … Seriously, can’t believe I just gave you the book. I must’ve been having a funny turn ;)

    Now, two things: I blog when I can, and when I have something interesting to say. Unfortunately the planets come into full alignment more often than those two actually happening. Largely the latter.

    Secondly, do I have your most recent mobular jellybone number? I sent you a text today and you were remarkably quiet. It was about the launch of GCSEPod which I know you’re interested in. Nice plug, Paul. Anyway, you have my number at least, so send me a text so I can update my records.

  4. … Seriously, can't believe I just gave you the book. I must've been having a funny turn ;)Now, two things: I blog when I can, and when I have something interesting to say. Unfortunately the planets come into full alignment more often than those two actually happening. Largely the latter.Secondly, do I have your most recent mobular jellybone number? I sent you a text today and you were remarkably quiet. It was about the launch of GCSEPod which I know you're interested in. Nice plug, Paul. Anyway, you have my number at least, so send me a text so I can update my records.

  5. What I really like about your blog is that you say what I’d love to say but don’t have the courage! There are people I know who are using math textbooks from 20 years ago, doing drill after drill, and not teaching the curriculum they’re supposed to be doing. It’s so aggravating!

    Hence the all-day headache today…

  6. What I really like about your blog is that you say what I'd love to say but don't have the courage! There are people I know who are using math textbooks from 20 years ago, doing drill after drill, and not teaching the curriculum they're supposed to be doing. It's so aggravating!Hence the all-day headache today…