Own Your Part of the Problem

Written by: Jordan Tinney

Published On: December 2nd 2018

The world of education is so complex that every day in the dozens if not hundreds of decisions we make, there is always a good chance that we could do it better. For me, I certainly hope that I will be a better superintendent next year than I am this year. I hope that I continue to learn and develop as I know that all educators do. This blog is about when you get yourself in a mess, how often do you sit back and ask yourself “how much of this do I own?” or “What is my role in this mess?” Susan Scott has the tools to help us out.

In her book Fierce Conversations, Susan talks about being “fierce on the truth.” Fierce meaning digging for clarity, finding out what’s going on and how to move ahead. Her great framework “Mineral Rights” is a very simple way to dig deep. My experience with this framework in multiple circumstances is that when things get complex, taking the time to document your experiences is enormously helpful.

Mineral rights (mining for meaning) begins with naming and clarifying the issue, determining the impact and then looking to the future. Some of the most powerful questions are:

  • If nothing changes what’s likely to happen?
  • What’s at stake for me and others?

The clarity and concise method is extremely helpful but the most powerful question for me was this:

  • How have you contributed to the problem?

Too often, I think when things go badly, we point to others. We look for reasons but the conscious act of looking inside and searching for your own role is absolutely critical. It takes two to dance, it takes a team to play, and no matter what you are likely a key actor in what unfolds.

In the end, Susan’s framework allows you to develop a clear plan of action once you have defined the problem and mapped out the impact and consequences of non-action. I highly recommend Mineral Rights whether working with yourself, teams or others. Clarity is always a good thing and just remember, when facing problems, you likely are not only part of the solution, you probably have played a role in the complexity that is at hand. It’s your responsibility to acknowledge that role and to be part of a better future. All you have to do to begin, is to pick up a keyboard, pencil or pen, and start mining.