School Entrepreneurship and Traffic Lights
I woke up at 6.30am.
The rain was rattling against the shutters.
My wife was sound asleep; it was my turn to take my son to school.
I managed to wake him with the promise of warm porridge and dried grapes.
We ate, we got dressed, and we were off.
The downpour was making traffic worse by the minute.
I got to the highway crossing making good time.
We still had two miles to go and a full 15 minutes before the morning bell.
But the traffic light queue was 70 yards long -hundreds of red blinking car lights like if I were driving towards an airport runway.
I made a right turn and drove down the parallel street expecting a dead end. In fact, I got in front of the long queue and ended up making the crossing in under three minutes WITHOUT breaking any rules or cutting in line.
All I needed to skirt a one-hour-wait was a little tenacity and the willingness to be humiliated -turning around and driving back up the street if it were indeed a dead-end.
The first stoplight made its debut on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland in 1914.
By 1930, all major American cities and many small towns had at least one electric traffic signal. The simple device tamed the streets and saved millions of lives. The technology became a symbol of progress. To be a “one-stoplight town” was an embarrassment.
Today, it continues to save millions of lives every year.
And then we got used to it.
We stopped taking detours, trying out new routes, leaving the highway and taking the side roads...
The same goes for the GPS, the TV the mobile phone and most technology.
Most school leaders are doing the equivalent with social media. Staying on the safe, conventional path of waiting in the queue, posting and praying, letting Facebook dictate your outreach.
For the nonconformists out there willing to try the detour, the potential for your school will blow your mind.
You can reach 10x more families, grow awareness, engage more parents, get them on campus and drive enrollment growth WITHOUT breaking the rules or cutting-in-line.
How often do you try something unconventional for your school?
Or do you always default to following protocols?
We often overtheorize about what makes a great school leader.
Could it be that great school leaders simply try stuff out more often?