I have been thinking a lot lately about the buzzword "innovation" that is being used mightily in educational circles. It seems that nearly every esteemed educational institution is thinking more about innovation: in the classroom, in marketing, and in strategic planning. And, like most buzzwords, I am starting to believe that the word innovation is code for all sorts of other ideas, from flexibility to new thinking, and not all of these uses of the word actually equate into innovation.
I would argue that agility is more important than innovation for the state of private education today. The truth is, most schools and colleges just simply need to be more agile. Agility in their strategic thinking and the nimbleness to carry out new ideas and opportunities seems to be more foundational to any sort of innovation that might occur. In fact, innovation requires some level of organizational agility in order to be properly germinated.
I think the real challenge to interpreting the next chapter of a school or college is how to take the best of the past and blend it into the future. That is the art and science of strategy. It requires keeping a long term strategic direction in focus, but adapting the agility and nimbleness to take on new ideas as part of that strategy. Innovation best happens when an organization still knows where it is going, but has an openness as to how to get there.