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Does Your Company Provide a “Responsive Classroom”?

You heard me: Does your company provide a “Responsive Classroom”? Maybe it should. Mine certainly does.

I often advise firms on their innovation strategy, and I ask them two questions:

1. Where is your petri dish?
2. What is your learning design?

Well, the learning design could take its cues from the Responsive Classroom. My grounding in the Responsive Classroom comes courtesy of Mrs. Mallard, who teaches my 2nd Grader. She sent a note home today (it is the first day of school here in Virginia) outlining the guiding principles of the Responsive Classroom:

1. Learning social skills is as important at learning academic skills.
2. How children learn is as important as what they learn: Process and content go hand-in-hand.
3. Children gain knowledge most effectively through social interaction.
4. To be successful academically and socially, children need to learn cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.
5. Knowing the children we teach – individually, culturally, and developmentally – is as important as knowing the content we teach.
6. How the adults at school work together is as important as how skillful each individual teacher is: Lasting change begins with the adult community.

OK, now read the principles above but substitute “associates” for “children” and replace “adults” with “senior leaders.” Now tell me, do these sound like attributes of a successful workplace?

You might ask, “Does it work for your firm?” Here is an indication, an unsolicited e-mail from a new client that I received at 930AM this morning:

“I just wanted to tell you how impressed I am with the diligence, hard work and professionalism of your team. They thrive in ambiguity and are a lighthouse when the storm clouds of confusion and chaos roll-in.” [Note: Yes, after taking my kids to their first day of school, this was a GREAT message to start my Tuesday-after-Labor-Day.]