I began the session by asking each member of the audience to list the greatest obstacles to achieving their technology vision. The three items that were cited most often were:
1) Teacher reluctance 2) Lack of time 3) Lack of money
I recall a Director of Technology working for a district with a $100 million dollar budget explain to me that he did not have $99 to attend a professional development day. It was ironic that the program he was turning down was targeted to develop the ability of leaders to make their tech vision reality. I learned two things from this incident; first, it wasn’t really about the money and second, I wasn’t very effective in marketing the professional development day.
What do I mean, “It’s not about the money”? I believe that the lack of time or money is a code for “It’s not a priority” or “”It’s not valued” If attending the professional development was a high priority, or was highly valued, I have no doubt that the DOT would have found the $99, and the time to attend.
As leaders, this is a valuable lesson to learn because when we advocate for more resources for technology, or more time for professional development; we are often turned away with the rationale that the organization lacks the money and time to honor the request. If we take the time and money argument at “face value” our vision and plans are doomed.
Of course, occasionally there is a lack of money or time; but that is the exception not the rule. Once we realize that most often it is not about the money or the time; but about whether people share our priorities and values, then we can begin to develop effective strategies to deal with these obstacles. We won’t focus on the “red herrings” of money and time; but rather seek to build the value and priority of our technology vision with the people who make decisions about how the district’s resources are allocated.
There is an old story that might help here. A father, mother, and 10 year old son step up to the firing line of a shooting gallery at a small traveling carnival. The game operator is pumping a lever that causes water to spout in the air. On top of the spout of water are three yellow, plastic ducks. If the shooter is good enough to knock all three ducks off the waterspout, they win a huge stuffed animal. The mother tries first and hits only one duck. The father tries and shoots two ducks but misses the third. The son takes the gun and without hesitating shoots the man operating the pump. The man lets go of the pump and grabs the spot where he has been hit. The three ducks drop off the spout. The boy smiles happily. He has won an enormous stuffed animal.
Don’t be fooled by code words…
Step one…focus on the right target