Upstream Thinking . . . How to avoid harm?

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way.”

~ Michael Jordan

How might Michael Jordan have used feedback to improve his practice over time?  If you think about it, improvement cycles could be applied.  Michael is implementing a strategy.  Desired output is determined, processes are employed, and feedback is used to tweak the strategy (input) and/or the process.  Over time, Michael’s stats (desired output) improved.  

Please take a couple of minutes to watch The Upstream Solution (Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, 2016) video.  As you watch, reflect on:

  • What might have caused the shift from downstream to upstream thinking for the carpenter/village?
  • How did feedback inform the carpenter’s next steps?
  • How might improvement cycles be used to monitor the village’s desired output? 
  • How did the carpenter “avoid (or reduce) doing harm”?

Let’s apply this thinking to districts using the Blueprint framework.  Blueprint leaders also use improvement cycles where district and building teams use feedback to inform the recursive process.  Blueprint leaders who are upstream thinkers are proactively planning . . . they are considering ahead of time how to avoid doing harm by looking at information from outside the box . . . they determine how they will use feedback to inform decisions . . . they think about the long-term implications for decisions being made.  As you consider current or past strategies that you have implemented, how might improvement cycles have supported the implementation?  

Let’s see how the improvement cycles can help us in the work that MICIP asks us to do.  As a part of the MICIP process, the district will be creating goals around the whole child.  Research- and evidence-based strategies will be identified (input).  Interim targets (desired output) will be established, and activities (processes) will be determined.  How will you and your district and/or building teams use feedback to make adjustments to assure that your targets are met?  How might you be intentional about, when making decisions, to look beyond where you are as you plan?  In other words, how might data support you and your team in avoiding the proverbial branch from injuring passerbys?

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