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5 mistakes when driving school change - and how to fix them!

Nearly every college I work with is using Teachermatic, so I am thrilled that they are partnering with us this week:

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Context to this week's article:

A large part of the work I do in education and with businesses around artificial intelligence uncovers needs that go beyond using AI, but are essential to integrating AI. One of them is a strategic approach to communicating within the organisation for change. 

If you are trying to change your organisation with AI (or any other form of change) then you might value what I'm about to share...


Communication is the key to unlocking your school's future.

It's the foundation upon which relationships are built, ideas are shared and goals are achieved. A transformative communications strategy is essential for driving growth, innovation and success. But what does it take to build a communications strategy that truly transforms your organisation?

It comes down to four essential steps:

1: Scope

Understand your organisation's communication landscape.

This requires a dive into how your people currently interact, collaborate and share information. Observe your colleagues in action. Identify the communication channels they use most frequently, how often they communicate and with whom.

Look for patterns and insights that will help your message flow.

  • Who are the key people of influence you need to get on board?

  • How do you pique their interest?

  • Are there certain teams or departments that communicate more effectively than others?

  • Are there gaps or inefficiencies in how information is shared?

Engage your colleagues in meaningful conversations about their communication needs, challenges and pain points. What works well for them and what could be improved?

Actively listen to gain valuable insights into their needs and expectations.

Gather data from multiple sources, such as surveys, focus groups, feedback mechanisms and trusted voices.


Use this information to validate your findings and ensure you have a comprehensive understanding.

By taking the time to thoroughly scope, you lay the foundation for a strategy that is tailored to your unique needs and goals.

A strategy that is meaningful to your people.

5 Actionable Steps:

1. Analyse communication landscape: channels, patterns, influencers.

2. Engage colleagues: identify needs, challenges, pain points.

3. Gather multi-source data: surveys, focus groups, feedback.

4. Pinpoint communication gaps and efficient teams/departments.

5. Develop tailored strategy based on insights gained.

2: Shape

Craft your strategy for change.

Shape the messages that you will communicate using the findings from scoping. Clarity will help shape a message that moves the needle. Consider the specific outcomes you want to achieve and how you will measure success.

Use storytelling to bring your message to life, making it relatable and tangible. Share real-world examples of how your strategy will be beneficial to your people. Highlight the successes of teams and individuals who have already embraced your message.

Make your message vivid and engaging.

Inspire your people to take action.

Ensure your message is clear, consistent, and authentic across all communication channels. Whether you're sending an email, hosting a meeting or posting on social media, your voice should be true to your brand and values. Use plain language and avoid jargon that may confuse or alienate your audience.

By shaping a compelling message that aligns with your objectives and resonates with your people, you set the stage for communication that inspires and motivates.

5 Actionable Steps:

1. Shape messages using scoping findings, focusing on clarity and specific outcomes.

2. Employ storytelling to make the message relatable, highlighting real-world examples and successes.

3. Ensure message consistency and authenticity across all communication channels.

4. Use plain language and avoid jargon to prevent confusion or alienation.

5. Craft a compelling message that aligns with objectives and resonates with people to inspire action.

3: Influence

Put your communications strategy into action and influence your organisation to embrace change.

Clearly communicate your vision and strategy to your colleagues. Help them understand the "why" behind your approach and how it aligns with the organisation's goals. Paint a picture of what success looks like and how they can contribute.

Use multiple channels to reach them, ensuring maximum impact.

Keep your people informed and engaged by providing regular updates on the progress of your strategy. Be transparent with wins and setbacks. Use each experience as an opportunity to refine and improve.

Lead by example.

Influence is more than just delivering a message. It's about inspiring action and driving change. By consistently communicating your vision, engaging your people, and leading by example, you can create a groundswell of support for your communications strategy.

5 Actionable Steps:

1. Communicate vision and strategy, explaining the "why" and alignment with organisational goals.

2. Paint a picture of success and how colleagues can contribute.

3. Utilise multiple channels for maximum impact and reach.

4. Provide regular, transparent updates on progress, wins, and setbacks.

5. Lead by example to inspire action and drive change.

4: Align

To truly transform your organisation, you must drive alignment at all levels.

Alignment to your strategy should mean your colleagues are also closely aligned to your school’s mission, vision and values. The two should go hand in hand. Help employees see how their work contributes to the bigger picture and why their efforts matter.

Reinforce your culture and build a sense of shared purpose and identity.

Use recognition and incentives to encourage desired behaviours and outcomes. Provide opportunities for employees to develop new skills and take on new challenges. Highlight the benefits of learning and growth, both for individuals and the organisation as a whole.

Monitor and measure impact. Use data and feedback to adapt and improve over time. Stay responsive to the evolving needs of your organisation and your people. Track the effectiveness of your communications. Use this data to make informed decisions and demonstrate the value of your strategy to key stakeholders.

Alignment is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.

By consistently reinforcing your message, celebrating successes and adapting to feedback, you can create a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement that drives long-term transformation.

5 Actionable Steps:

1. Help employees see how their work contributes to the school's mission, vision, and values.

2. Reinforce culture and build a shared purpose and identity.

3. Use recognition and incentives to encourage desired behaviours and outcomes.

4. Monitor and measure impact, using data and feedback to adapt and improve.

5. Consistently reinforce the message, celebrate successes, and adapt to feedback for continuous improvement.

Changing an organisation is a journey, not a destination.

It requires dedication, hard work, and a willingness to learn and grow. By focusing on the four pillars of Scope, Shape, Influence, and Align, you can create a communications framework that truly transforms your organisation.

When your people are aligned around a shared vision and purpose, when they feel heard, valued, and inspired, your organisation can achieve anything. By mastering the art and science of strategic communication, you can unlock the full potential of your people and your school.

But don't just take my word for it.

Take action.

Start small, but start today.

Identify one area where you can improve your communication and take the first step. As you build momentum, keep pushing forward. Embrace the power of strategic communication and watch your organisation transform before your eyes.

5 Mistakes to Avoid:

1. Failing to thoroughly scope and understand the current communication landscape before developing a strategy.

2. Neglecting to engage colleagues and gather multi-source data to identify needs, challenges, and pain points.

3. Using jargon or inconsistent messaging across communication channels, leading to confusion or alienation.

4. Not providing regular, transparent updates on progress, wins, and setbacks or failing to adapt based on feedback.

5. Overlooking the importance of reinforcing culture, shared purpose and alignment with the school's mission, vision and values

Your school's future is in your hands.

Make it a bright one.


Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1. The ChatGPT Survival Kit: My flagship course on getting started with generative AI using ChatGPT. The Busy Teacher's Guide to Taking Back Your Evenings With AI. Join 10k+ educators who have taken the course.

2. The AI Classroom Bestselling Book: Tens of thousands of educators on every continent have trusted this "Ultimate Guide to AI in Education", to springboard themselves into AI leadership. With a healthy balance of thought and practical guides, this book will supercharge your AI journey. 

3. It's an honour to be an in-demand international keynote speaker on artificial education in education and business. I get to work with schools, colleges, universities and businesses to strategically integrate AI and help them be prepared for a future of disruptive technology. Click here to enquire about booking me.


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