Leading and Thriving Through the Evolutionary Changes in the AC-Stage of Education

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Anthony Kim began his career in education by helping higher education institutions with technology projects and data. He is the Founder and CLO of Education Elements. He believes that learning environments and school designs need to be open and flexible so that teachers, the true designers of learning, can successfully create the best possible learning conditions for students.

Dr. Michael Conner

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening from wherever you are. I am Dr. Michael Conner, the proud CEO and Founder of the Agile Evolutionary Group and the host of Voices for Excellence. And yes, we are in season two and this is an absolute treat to have Anthony Kim here on Voices for Excellence. Anthony Kim, before the episode had started, I was just admiring Anthony Kim’s work. Anthony is one of, I like to say, the organizational design czars across our country. So when we talk about organizational theory, developing systems, designing systems, especially concretizing systems for equity and innovation, there is no other person in this country than Anthony Kim. Yes, I referenced all of the concepts that he has devised, whether it be from his first book, The Personalized Playbook, or even a book that is absolute one of my favorite, The New School Rules. So without further ado, I’d like to welcome Anthony Kim on the Anthony, my brother. Good to see you. Now, I know you travel whether it be staying in San Diego for the summer. You live in Las Vegas. I mean, I don’t know where you’re at, but it’s good to see you.

Anthony Kim

Great seeing you and thanks for having me. I’m super excited to have this conversation. And I know from just reading the preview of the questions, you’re going to go deep. So thanks for inviting me to this because I already learned a lot just reading your questions.

Dr. Michael Conner

Man, no, thank you, Anthony, I’m going to have to stop you right there. That’s a compliment coming from you. That’s all I need, right? I just need my marketing tool. I just need my sense it’s coming from you, and then we’ll end it. No, no, no. And that is such an honor, because, again, you know my work personally, when, you know, I’m a systems thinker. I think about systems and the context of broad transformation, even down to this granular level of how these systems or subsystems are operationalized within an organization. And Anthony, whether it be your blogs or whether it be your white papers or whether it be your books, especially the New School Rules, that is just a great reference and tool and thank you for everything that you have done holistically for education. But now let’s get into the fun question first before we actually go in depth, where I unwrap the anatomy of your brain with regards to organizational design. But now add in that element of innovation to it. But before we get that deep into the episode, right, if any, when leaders education stakeholders, national organizations that, you know, invite you to be a keynote speaker or even just meet with a collection of leaders or even teachers that you work with throughout the country when they first encounter you or first encounter Anthony Kim, what song would they say defines your equity innovation stance in education? I can’t wait to hear this.

Anthony Kim

Man, this honestly was a tough one. And I actually, you know, spent some time thinking about different songs that come to mind. And I think, unfortunately, it’s not one that’s like super positive. It’s kind of a sad song. And the song is Drift Away by Dobie Gray. And the reason I picked that is because, you know, the first line of the song starts day after day. I’m more confused, yet I look for the light through the pouring rain and I feel like I’m always looking for that light where there’s hope and we are trying to make some of that change. And the third line says, that’s the game that I hate to lose. Right? And then it goes through the lyrics and then it also says, you know, the world seems so unkind. And there’s, you know, especially now, as we go into elections and just the polarity that we are experiencing in the country, it’s hard to navigate these things when this does require some discussion and conversation and building relationships. And so that unfortunately, that’s the the song that comes to mind right now in the state that we’re in today. 

Dr. Michael Conner

Yeah. Yeah. And Anthony when I think about that right drift away and just the first line, day after day I am more confused. And when you think about where we’re at and education, right. I was reading a book driving and thriving in disruption. Right. And they talk about this exploitive version of VUCA, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous where they call it, vice uncertain, volatile, intersectionality, complex and exponential because day after day, the education model, the operating model to try to create this new value captured by creation, it makes us even more confused because you have this polarization of multiple variables that are playing into the fact of how we design for equity and excellence, but I think is grounded on what you said, discussions and building relationships and then lost that. And it was certain degree in education, but Drift Away. There’s nothing sad about that. There’s a lot of connection within that song as well. But when we talk about discussion and building relationships. Right. I want to get into the second question.  We all know, Anthony, you’re a bestselling author, a renowned blogger, and you’ve been featured in many national publications, but I really wanna specifically focus on your two books and the reason why I want to focus on your two books. This is subjective. I love them, brother. I love them. So I want it to be obvious objective and highlight because I want my audience or my listeners to really get the full or the totality of the macro themes from the personalized playbook.  One of my all time favorites, Anthony, and I’m not just saying it just to be saying it, it is really one of my all time favorites. The New School Rules, right? Just providing a brief overview. What are the critical themes from your books, but more importantly, if I’m a leader or if I’m a teacher, which strategies or resonating lessons can I take from each of your books?

Anthony Kim

Yeah, and thanks for those kind words. I really appreciate that. And I’m grateful that someone like you who has the… who’s really been studying a lot of different types of books and different ways, speaks so highly of this content. So thank you so much. Starting with the personalized learning playbook, you know, I wrote that ten years ago, and at the time it was right when people were districts were just implementing. I had and this and that. And we just felt like this idea of what technology should do should be different. And I think one way to think about it is I think about learning in kind of three axes. The first axis is the x axis, and that’s the acceleration of learning. How fast are you going from an A below at or above grade level is one way to look at that X, right? This how well do you know that content. Right. And then the y axis is around dubstep learning. And so the depth of learning goes from just using Bloom’s taxonomy. You could use other taxonomies, but using Bloom’s or goes from kind of the bottom, which is remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating. And and then the Z axis is really do I go from kind of dependent to interested, to involve to self-directed?  And as you think about kind of the the future workforce, the future citizen to the person that you’re trying to develop through school systems, you want what I call the big box of learning where everybody is self-directed, they’re above grade level or above whatever benchmark it is, and they’re able to create. And a lot of times the things that we think about are in the small box, are learning, which is within the smaller part of CS, which is remembering only then and focused on below grade level.  And so I think when I think about personalized learning is how do I create the path from somebody that’s at a small box to build out their big box of learning. And that’s what personalized learning is. How do I fill that gap for somebody? So, so, you know, that’s really the premise of personalized learning, the personalized learning playbook. And if I had to give one message is that if the teachers are excited to teach, the students will get excited, too.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. Absolutely. And Anthony, if I could interject before you go into the new school rules, because I really want to highlight this for my audience, the personalized learning playbook. If we wrote that at ten years ago, this was before this was right in the middle, I would say right, right at the the middle of the B.C stage of education before COVID, before we started talking about technology, before we started talking about generative models being integrated into education. And Anthony was a unicorn thinking about this. When you look at the three axes rate, the x axis is deceleration of learning the Y axis, the depth of knowledge, knowledge, taxonomies, and the z axis, which we know as is self-directed learning in movie that small box of learning, rote memorization of skills, articulation of knowledge through standers, through a summative assessment to this big box of learning creation and having that ability to have this internal self-directed learning. This is a sub variant question. You know, for me, I have my audience use this as a professional learning mechanism, asynchronous, self-directed learning going back and forth. Right? But if you can go deep into this, right, this self-directed learning, because now where and I think the education space and this is just a very broad theory is starting to really accept this entry point of technology in AI into the operating model. You were talking about this ten years ago, right? What does that look like in context, specifically around if I want to design my organization or redesign my organization where that self-directed learning is the rounded impetus for the learning experience for students?

Anthony Kim

Yeah, that’s a tough one. You know, one, it has to do with just habits of behaviors. How do you build those habits and behaviors and people, you know, for example, like we all know that training and exercise is good, right? Especially as you get older. Like lifting weights is great for bone density, right? But everybody does that, right? Like, Sure. And and so there’s there’s behaviors that you have to build and systems that you have to build around that to support it. And you also have to have friends that push you and collaborate with you to do that, having that community basis, right? Because if I’m just trying to do it by myself, then it’s by heart. But the fact that you and I have a connection and we’re able to have discussion about these things makes it super exciting for us to do that in even in preparation for this, I read a bunch of things. I had to flip through the personalized learning playbook again because I knew you were going to ask me questions about it. And now, like I need to have that conversation. And that’s what energized me, right? The fact that we’re adding that human connection around this topic.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. And Anthony, I tell you this, you know, building systems are but you just highlight and articulate it. It automatically brought me back to this inward, outward design I diversion design of an organization versus an outward end, i.e. convergent design which a lot of the bureaucratic systems that we see in education are operationalized, which in conclusion does create is the industrial or Jeffersonian model. So getting into one of my favorite books, right, and I wanted a part and parcel intentionally, please elaborate on the new school rules and put in if to my audience, if you don’t have it, I highly recommend it. Go get it. It’s still relevant. Go ahead. I’m sorry. 

Anthony Kim

Yeah. So I could tie it in a little bit with personalized learning and I a bit. So just kind of going back to that access point. Right. And you mentioned, I think, you know, everybody’s talking about right now and the reason like it’s the conversations are a little bit flawed is because the arc around A.I. is really around that small box of learning, right? Remembering and understanding the low grade level and like completely dependent on a teacher.  But if you use A.I. at the big box for eating right, you’re self-directed. You know, you’re thinking above the basic understanding. Then you’re using A.I. as a tool that accelerates your ability to innovate and create. Absolutely right. And so. So why do why do I mention that? Well, because in new school rules, we talk about why we’ve tried to implement things so many times and have failed over and over again. And a lot of it has to do with the way we’re organized and the way we work with each other as adults and the school systems that we support. Absolutely. So so I talk about six practices that are essential. And, you know, this is these practices are a compilation of books that I’ve read, research that done, observations I’ve made visiting schools. And the first is Plan for change, not perfection, right? We spend so much time just planning and we don’t implement game theory to think about what the other people are going to be doing. We just like this is the plan and we just assume everyone’s going to adopt that plan without thinking about game theory. Absolutely. So that’s one teams. It’s like, how do you operate in teams? And really it’s just this idea that teams come and go, right? And I reference the Hollywood style of management where, you know, the producers come up with a movie idea, they bring in the casting director and the location managers, but what’s the location manager is done finding a location. They don’t sit through the rest of the meetings that go to editing right? They get their work done, they bring their expertise and they leave. And so teams come and go. It’s really about how do we build more capacity within school system? Because oftentimes we’re stuck in meetings where we’re not contributing. And I could be doing something more productive by not being in that meeting. And and if the leadership doesn’t really think about the way teams come and go, it’s really hard making roles. This is another one. And this relates to equity, right? It’s like, how do we give people that don’t have positions of power, opportunities and voice within some of the decision making that happens within an organization? And so really being clear about what the roles are, not focusing on the titles. Right, right, right. Where can I get you know, you always talk about diverse thinking, like where can I get that diverse thinking when I’m always relying on the same people around me to give me the actions and the next steps. So that’s another. And then decision making, like how do we make decisions? And I think it’s human nature to kind of lean towards saying no or that it can’t be done. And so a lot of times you’re sitting in a meeting and you have this great idea and there are ten people that will say, Well, we tried this or that doesn’t work or a thought. And so it just becomes a way not to try and learn from failure, right? Like learning from doing some of the things and trying and understanding. And so because there are a lot of hypothetical reasons why something can’t be done and then sharing information, this is a tricky one because everybody, including exam boards and community members, demand transparency. But if you get transparency, that means that not not all the information is perfect and it’s place to change. Correct? Right. Because once you release information at that rate, it’s constantly changing. And so people have to understand it better. And then the last piece I would say is how do we create learning organizations? Schools should definitely be a learning organization, but they’re not designed to be. And, you know, that really just comes from Peter. Sanjay’s work and discipline, right? Like, how do you create an organization that learns and kind of all our goal as education leaders and influencers and education, we should be trying to create schools that are learning organizations, not schools.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. Absolutely. And Anthony, I loved how you at the tight end Peterson days were because in order to get to that level of organizational culture, i.e. creating a learning culture, that creative tension, right, your current state and your desired outcome, that’s going to create that organizational chasm I always talk about, but that your second point, right? And I think that this is essential for organizational coherence is building social capital or building that shared mental model or around the goals and that game theory. So, so, so important in the six practices. Wow. Yeah, I still reference that right, because they’re so necessary for the AC stage of education. And going right into the next question, this is a great segway to underscore the six practices, right? We know the AC stage of education after COVID, it has presented a level of uncertainty and also a level of novelty within the ecosystem. But there are obviously equity and excellence quandaries or gaps that we are seeing. And as you said it before, this leads to this question or this folk II around innovation and creativity to develop. And when I say develop and redesign organizations to focus on being a learning organization, an operating model where everybody’s learning simultaneously. But I know that this is going to be an abstract question. Anthony, I apologize, but what are the systemic challenges you’re seeing across the country and what are some leadership approaches that can be lamented in the education model to curtail these current quandaries? I e equity and excellence gaps at a macro level to ensure that we’re closing them at the granular or micro level within a learning organization.

Anthony Kim

Yeah, that’s been my goal. It took me a while just to like sit on this one, and I appreciate you asking some of the challenging questions here. You know, I think first, just to set the stage for it is right when if you asked the Silicon Valley CEO to build something innovative around on demand movies and then to build a platform that allows you to do that, they’re not going to be thinking, I’m just going to like, build another Netflix. Right, right, right. Like, could you, like, underwrite, disrupt the way somebody does something in order to create something better? Right. Right. So. So and no one would fund that. Right? So educate and we can truly say, hey, I thought this school over here or this district doing it over here, let’s be innovative by just doing the exact same thing and and that’s not being innovative, right? Like that’s just replicating what somebody else did. And so innovations life, when you just try to replicate what somebody has already done, innovation is created when you think about things that other people haven’t thought about. Right. Or you’ve framed it a different way than other people. And so I think we like you mentioned, we’re challenged with even understanding what innovation is, because the way we talk about innovation is personalized, like personalized learning is innovation. Having virtual schools is an innovation. It’s not that. It’s how we think about the problem. That’s the innovation.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. Absolutely. I the way you can contextualized it perfectly, right. The way we think about the problem is the innovation. And I think, you know, those as I like to say, the cycles of experimentation. Right. I remember when I was a superintendent here, I think you remember my work, I always used to say, Hey, why don’t we conduct AB experiments or AB test where we look at the same sample and we obviously put a make control treatment and then highly monitor and adjust the treatment implementation to we till we get to a level of scalability, right. Kind of like that design study, research approach or design study investigation approach. However, at that time, you know, you would hear families and peers, I don’t want you to innovate on my kid. I don’t want you to perform experiment on my child. But we’re really looking at what is the scalable system or the scalable product that we can have for global impact. But if you can’t, Anthony, and this is again, another sub variant of a question, your answer, you know me, I, I apologize when I listen, if I said this to you, I believe we were at the Alaska orphans in Puerto Rico. I actually a while ago, like you go to get on my podcast and you’re like, Yes. And then we’re like, You get out the whole town upstairs on the first floor. So, yes, I’m going to ask you all of this up there is my brother. But when we talk about because one of the common misnomers we see in education universally is that replication versus innovation. Right. And how could we avoid because a lot of the times we think of, you know, replicating an innovative practice in another district or another area, we might have the same results that that district might have. But in reality, we don’t. Is it a slower implementation get get stifled? There’s that level of stymie with implementation implementation. But again, if you could just go just a little deeper around replication versus innovation so that now we have this level set mindset or this level set around, I want to be able to innovate, but look at some of the replication strategies, but put it to our own context. 

Anthony Kim

Right, right, exactly. So I’ll just kind of use the example of virtual schools because that I think a lot of people have experience with virtual schools now, right? So so the way people would look at virtual schools in the early days was some district would have a pretty decent virtual school implementation, let’s say Florida virtual. Right? And they’ll just say, let’s just replicate that, but make the curriculum a little bit better and and so instead of just taking, you know, figuring out a business transaction with organization like that and then building on top of that, they’ll instead want to start from scratch and build everything from kind of base level because what they thought they did see it and then they’ll say, well, that’s not quite good enough then, so we’re going to make it better. And what they don’t realize is that they haven’t really thought through the magnitude of something like absolute right. And and also they haven’t really thought about like what problem are they really trying to solve that the students need? That requires that kind of brand new development. Absolutely. Absolutely. And most likely on the curricular side, it’s probably doesn’t require a whole lot of brand new development. Right. You know, there’s probably some modification, but would probably could have been could have accelerated. Our experience with virtual learning is to really think about what the asynchronous synchronous online offline experience of the student might be so that it’s better than what they were getting, which was just like a kind of a boring online stream in the early days. Right, Right. And so I, I think what’s what happened is we like kind of built on the knowledge and skills that people have already experienced and then continue to evolve that as opposed to trying to rebuild it from scratch. And we’ve always done that with state standards assessments. You name all of the things that we’ve tried, like we’ve always tried to build it from scratch. And one of the problems, you know, which I wanted to address later, is the structure it created because of the way education is structured in the United States.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. And Anthony, we’re going to get into that later. But I really want to highlight one key, a key thing that you you you you highlighted and this question needs to be asked with a level of vigor and then also with the level of intentionality when we’re looking at the reimagination or the transformation of our organizations, learning organizations is what problem or what problems are we trying to solve. That is a huge question, right? And developing prototypes and hypotheses around what those problems are that now needs to become this innate practice or this innate skill among leaders, as well as among the cabinet level and including principals, where now we’re looking at problems with intentionality and that level of innovation coming in and moving from that, a practice standardized practice of replication, but kind of going into that now with organizational structures and systems learning organizations, architecture. Right. But I want to use in this I like to say new but old right phenomena of education, technology and artificial intelligence, because I consider you one of the experts in the country around organizational design work and the broad continuous improvement mechanisms or systems effectiveness trying to solve the problem of the learning organization. But we’re moving into the second year of the AC stage of education. How do we successfully start to examine or unpack organizational design and transformational work underpinning technology and artificial intelligence for innovation and equity?

Anthony Kim

Yeah. So I think just to kind of step back, and I always like to give other types of analogies to help like us process it. So let’s say, you know, let’s take the electric car, for example, you know, Tesla, Ford, all these other companies are coming out with electric cars. Tesla actually spent all of their time building out the infrastructure, right? Fewer models of cars but like built out all of this infrastructure and built it with this innovation that actually allowed you to charge directly to the battery without converting it. Right. And so it allows you to supercharge, right. Because you’re charging the battery directly. Right. So so they build out this infrastructure and then people thought, well, it was like a monopoly or whatever.  And then and then other companies like Ford decided, they need to build, but then build electric cars. But then like Chargepoints came out because they were charging. But, you know, charging at a supercharger takes a long time. Still is. It takes longer than filling up your gas tank, but charging at a charge point, at a slow charging, it takes even longer. And there’s your stations around that. And so what now you’re seeing is that the the large auto manufacturers are going to Tesla and trying to use their infrastructure because it’s already kind of built out. And so they’ve been focused on the car, not the infrastructure. Right. Right. And not the charging experience because that’s the real distractor. And so I think that when we think about education, technology and stuff, we focus so much on the technology itself and not the overall learning experience. And so so I think that’s what we need to focus on. And so so part of the reason we’re hearing a lot of attention is because a lot of the questions were just like gas stations versus charging stations. We have business segments and homework assignments that can be overturned by a right like easily done by air. And so instead we argue about the air instead of saying the homework assignments are the problem.  Right?

Dr. Michael Conner

Exactly. Exactly. It is the we I hear that all the time across the country. Right? Always. The technology is the air. And the air is not working or, you know, this technology, you know, everybody’s talking about it, but it’s not, you know, really working with my students or with in the organization. But then I ask, well, what is the pedagogy and what are the resources that are supporting that? And did you even identify the correct air solution or software for your students? I think that when you say technology versus the actual learning, we still have to shift that mental model right away to say that mental model where how are we looking at the learning outcomes and closing specific opportunity equity gaps where the technology is going to be able to drive that as a lever as opposed to the whole technology piece and just kind of supplanting as what I see in education now in technology is say, Hey, we’re moving towards this, a technology learning organization where is both when you’re like, okay, did you have an assessment? Did you assess the readiness of your learning organization? But again, please elaborate. Yeah, I think because this is so foundational to how we’re able to make this shift in a positive way for students, for teachers and leaders included.

Anthony Kim

Yeah. So just on on the air front, let’s say, for example, you and I were given a question around the key principles of learning organizations, and someone produced an AI presentation off of that and we looked at it. I think you and I have read enough materials where we could look at and be like all right, that’s pretty basic, right? Like, it’s still like, you know, pretty rudimentary. And yeah, how do we dig in more? And the person would have to try to dig in. They’ll ask another question and we’ll still be able to keep on drilling down. And that’s where expertise exists, right? If you have expertise, you could identify these things and be able to navigate how the read it is or verify it or it’s not contextualized in the right way and and even apply it absolutely. So. So I think the theory that exists is that the education system isn’t really prepared to have all the teachers at this level of expertise in all of these topics. And so AI actually can produce, you know, outputs faster than a human can in some ways. But if you’re dealing with an expert, there’s probably professors that I could deal with showing in a, you know, report that I wrote, they would look at and be like, well, you produced that from A.I. because it’s just like what Wikipedia shows, right? Yeah, this, you know, at a very surface level. And so I think this is where like as a country, we have to get to a deeper level of learning and we have to build instruction that pushes us to a deeper level learning, because I think if we don’t do that, we’ll lose the ability for people to verify and to execute with prior knowledge. We’re just kind of relying on the AI to tell us what’s right.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. I can’t say I love what you stated. Deeper levels of learning to my audience, deeper levels of learning. That is cognitive rigor, that is academic rigor, and in conjunction with A.I. to be able to support that. But again, great segway into this next question, because if you and I know about this report that was generated by McKinsey, a company really highlighted in my book, highlighted in my framework as well, where the Delta 2030 Report right now highlights four domains, 56 different competencies to successfully navigate in this new Delta 2030 world. Right. And the education model or the operating model as of now only incorporates two of those large domains. The next two that we need to intentionally integrate into our organizational design is that self leadership and digital leadership piece of it. But that report, right, if you think about it from the time from where we’re at now, that is six and a half years away. That’s a blink of an eye in the educational world. Right. And we have to adopt, as I say, strategic level of urgency. But from your level of expertise, Anthony, we know that this is six and a half years away to really shift a huge education model that has been operationalizing in this batched industrialization context for years. That’s going to be hard to change. But how do leaders and change agents plan and implement organizational change with intentionality out, be it being bold to align education in totality with this new economic demand of Delta 2030?

Anthony Kim

Yeah, you know, when you posed this question, I had to read through the article again. And, you know, one of the things I noticed is that if we took this article in a different country and let’s pick Singapore or South Korea or any country, they would say, okay, this is a mission and vision and goal for our society, right? Our country. We have to build this capacity. And so let’s change our curriculum and put these opportunities. So let’s fund it. And then and then over the next ten years, like we’ll see start to see some change. Right, Right. Now, if we did that same approach in the U.S., the USDA, we would say this and then we would argue about funding levels and then we would push it to the states to decide how they want to implemented. And then there would be debates in that across the state, and then the state will get it. And then, you know, the south part of Florida would argue one thing, the north part of Florida would argue about a different thing, and then they would implement this in their own separate ways differently. Right. And so so it’s kind of like that telephone game by the time like it gets to the district immediately, it’s something completely different than what was intended or understood. And most likely the people implementing Delta in 2030 would even read it by the time they got to that level. Right. And it was four years later that it does that. And so I think we really have to rethink what role and accountability does the U.S. Department of Ed need to have in order for us to lift everybody up in this and a framing? And then what role does the local community have in discerning some of this? I think the challenge we have right now and the model we have was designed off of a system where Michael Conner grew up in a state and just didn’t move for a long period of time. Like but now, like people just move from state to state. So what I’m prepared for in Las Vegas versus California versus Arizona is just different. And so by Luke, I’m like constantly and having to reorient myself in this kind of learning and we can operate that way.

Dr. Michael Conner

Yeah, Yeah. And Anthony, you talk about it and we talk about it, right? This national of what education looks like. And you know, many people, as I have spoken to, whether it be individuals at the higher education level, academia, researchers, experts like you, Anthony and one of the collective friends that I’m hearing in context is how do we create this level of coherence nationally, whether it be from the U.S., the USDA, to our SC A’s, to our leaders, down to the schools, right. State education agencies for my audience’s Ellie, our local education. And that is now down to the school improvement process at the at the school level. And we always see this, whether it be vertical or horizontal disjunction, i.e. from the interpretation of, let’s say, the work of a Delta 2030. Right? We want I always now we use and we use it analogy, we want the spaghetti and the good meatballs, we got the recipe and then now we get, you know, something else besides the beginning and meatball. You are absolutely right. And Anthony, my last question to you and I usually ask this question in three words, right? Because I want my audience to take away three pivotal points from each of my guests. So the question is, Anthony, what three words do you want today’s audience to leave Our episode with successfully adopt an organizational habits to achieve or for Generation Z and Generation Alpha? What three words will define innovation, equity and excellence with organizational habits that will create a pathway to successfully matriculate into this new paradigm or what we were just talking about before Delta 2030. 

Anthony Kim

Yeah, I’m really glad you asked this question because I could segway into some new work that I’m building out right now. And that work is collectively called the Art of Implementing Well. Wow you’re the first on VFE. All right can you repeat that more time Anthony and when is that coming out? It’s called the Art of Implementing Well, and we’re trying to build out a framework for districts to think about… to implement anything. Yeah. And and I think it’s pretty interesting but the corporate symbols around it are these three words – mindset, collaboration and resilience. Absolutely. So mindset that is just how do I get people in the mindset of understanding and kind of being open to this change? Collaboration is, I think, an example would be you and I just spent a lot of time talking about Delta 2030, and we got to collaborate on this topic a little bit, but if you’re trying to implement Delta 2030 in your district, you need to give other people time to collaborate around the topic to. And it’s not just about collaboration around it for the sake of working, but it’s really to have discourse around it so that you can elevate your understanding of it and comfort level around it. Because I think a lot of implementations are injured by fear. Absolutely. And then the third piece is resilience. And these are just systems that need to exist. I had a conversation with the Department of Ed the other day and they were like, Hey, we’re going to train X number, you know, 5000 teachers a on science or reading. But we just realized that 2000 of them leave, you know, to do other things, different grades, different districts, different states. And so how do you build systems that anticipate change? And that’s where, you know, game theory comes in, because we just assumed that the that the response is static, but it’s not. There are people on the other side that respond differently than the way you anticipate.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. Absolutely. And Anthony, I’ll tell you, you heard it first, to my audience on the VFE, the Art of Implementing Well by Anthony Kim and the three words mindset, collaboration and resilience. And again, I apologize. I want to pick your brain again, this word of collaboration. Listen, I got you on. I am going to have you on as long as I can. I’m learning as well. You see the pin, but good brother, elaborate on collaboration because that word, it just, it brings a different connotation. And I think that collaboration specifically when we look at it from the education ecosystem lens, is just, we just do… we collaborate to work, right? Diluted, yes. Yeah, unpack that because collaboration with discourse to be able to create a shared mental model around the organizational goals, theories, objectives, theory of action, change… However, we want to contextualize it, please just unwrap collaboration because there are some misinterpretations with what that looks like in practice.

Anthony Kim

The way I’d like to see it play out in a district is let’s say, you know, we’ll just use learning organizations again. So some leader goes to a conference, hears about learning organizations they read about, they do all of those, they talk to Michael, they talk to Anthony. And in those conversations, there was discourse and collaboration that happened just to understand it and to learn together. Right. And it’s a mix of people of levels of knowledge and people with more experience. And also than you like conveying your knowledge to somebody that knows a little bit less. That’s kind of the whole like big collaboration. So then what happens is like, that’s a great idea. And then we take it to our cabinet and we’re like, hey, we’re going to become a learning organization. We’re like, This is what you need to do. And all of a sudden everybody has to go off and do it. And they never really had an opportunity to learn what that is and make it part of their like psyche around the work that they’re trying to do. And so what I mean by the collaboration is how do you recreate the experience that you had as a learner with your team so that they feel like they went through a similar cut process to gain all that knowledge to execute on this? And that’s that’s really quite hard to do. 

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. And Anthony, thank you for that. And to my audience right, a key phrase Anthony highlighted recreate the experience as a learner. Right. And learning together and that goes back to that organizational thread or tenant around capacity with the new systems and structures that you are implementing and that discourse, please, as you’re creating these collaborative networks or these hubs, these collaborative hubs around learning, around more intentional organizational redesign and change, diverse perspectives and divergent perspectives are needed. We don’t need 6 to 10 or 10 to 20 people that has the same mindset. Challenging each others framework so you can build a strong prototype. But, Anthony, you lasted, you survived VFE brother. And man, it is such an honor to have you on, but for my audience ,if they want to get in touch with you or to continue or start a conversation with regards to some of the questions and your responses, how would they be able to reach you?

Anthony Kim

Yeah, I always try to respond to people that reach out and you know, right now the best platform is just on LinkedIn just to connect with me and I’ll respond to messages on LinkedIn and that’s a great way to do it. And and also then you could see, you know, content that’s related and stuff like that. So and then on YouTube, we have a channel for education elements and there’s ways to reach out through the YouTube channel as well.

Dr. Michael Conner

Absolutely. And I’ll tell you to my audience, yes, that’s exactly what I did with Anthony Kim the first time I was learning Facebook came out, I reached out to Anthony. I didn’t expect that I was going to get a reply back and sure enough, within that day, he did not know me from Adam. Anthony replied back to answer my questions. And then when the new school rules came out, that’s when I’ve reached out to Anthony continuously. And then we developed the relationship from there. So, Anthony, thank you again. Such an honor to have you on VFE. I will contact you. We got to get together. We got to talk more. Not to this point where we’re geeking out like this, but just catching up and seeing how life is. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, like I mentioned, I’ll be in Rochester pretty soon.

Anthony Kim

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, like I mentioned, I’ll be in Rochester pretty soon.

Dr. Michael Conner

You know what that means to my audience. The notebook in the pen will be right out.

Anthony Kim

Maybe we’ll livestream for a few minutes.

Dr. Michael Conner

Exactly right, we’re going to livestream with that. Anthony, can’t wait to see you in Rochester soon. And on that note, everybody, onward and upward. Have a great day.