Saturday, 9 November 2013

Golden Rules for running a business and how they relate to school leadership

I love this report on Richard Reed and Innocent. It describes Reed's five golden rules for running a business. Innocent has become a multi-million pound business. As I read the report I realised how his rules easily apply to running a school.

Lesson #1: Have a mission

“You need to have a clear vision and sense of purpose – it brings a massive amount of energy and direction to the organisation. It’s one of those things that costs nothing but creates so much value. In those down times, those late evenings and weekends think about the reason behind why you’re doing what you do. What’s your mission?"
I believe it is so important that everyone in an establishment buys into the school's mission. The mission should be the key reason for making any decision. 
"Google exists to ‘organise the world’s information and make it universally available’. In one sentence it explains why they do what they do, and there’s something so powerful about having such a clear sense of purpose.”

Lesson #2: It’s the people, stupid

“You need to hire good people, people make a business. Identify your business' needs and then find staff with the right skills and motivation; it really is the most important thing to get right.
It’s not about just taking people who are available it’s about being incredibly picky and choosy. Trying to get a job at Innocent is a nightmare, you have to get through so many hoops, but it’s important, because staff are integral to our business and we want to get it right."
Recruiting the right staff in schools can be hard. But it is so important that only the right staff are brought in. I would argue that it's not just about people - it's finding the right services that will benefit the children and the school.

Lesson #3: Start small, but do start

“The most important thing is to get started. We started from a market stall, Marks and Spencer’s started from a market stall, the scale of it doesn’t matter – it’s the starting that’s important. If it goes wrong, so what, you’ll learn, you’ll have a great experience and a great story to tell your friends in the future."
For me, this message applies to school when it comes to making changes. When the time is right it's important to try it and have a go. Make a start. I'm a huge believer in having a go and not delaying.

Lesson #4: Do it your way, not the ‘right’ way

“All I can say is what happened to us, that doesn’t mean it’s the right way so don’t feel afraid to start your  in a different way. There is no universal ‘right’ way to start a business, every venture is unique and every situation is different.
One of the beautiful things about setting up a business is that you can make it the way you want it to be – you can do it with your values and your own rituals.
No one can tell you how to run your business. We’ve built this business from scratch based on our values and principles.
Do what’s important to you.”
These messages speak for themselves. A headteacher should direct the school in a way that is unique to that school. Do what you believe is most important.

Lesson #5: Be open

“Be open and communicate. Test your product or service on other people and be responsive to feedback. Having people walk around the office means we have to be honest, which is great.
If you’re open to feedback people will give you wilful insight which is key to the success of your business. You’ll understand what your consumer wants better than your competition does."
In the case of schools, our consumer is the children, the parents and the community. Appreciate all feedback given - negative or positive. Act on it! Be honest and transparent as much as possible so that your consumers understand why you do things the way you do.