As the COVID-19 pandemic enveloped schools in the spring of 2020, Dr. Quintin Shepherd watched his fellow education leaders treat it as a complicated challenge with a right versus a wrong response.
Shepherd intuited that the pandemic would be complex, with many possible ways to respond, all of which might or might not be effective depending on future circumstances. As time went on, he grew more and more frustrated watching schools act and stakeholders react—and he decided to put his ideas out into the public sphere so his fellow education leaders could talk about them.
Quintin joined Kevin Hogan in this week’s episode of the Getting There: Innovations in Education podcast to discuss the new book "The Secret to Transformational Leadership” and explain one of the book’s central concepts: the difference between complicated and complex problems.
Complicated problems have one right answer and can be handled by experts who have the knowledge and authority to make the right decision.
The solutions to complex problems, by contrast, are inherently unknowable. Relying on one expert to decide how they should be handled inevitably leads to dissent and disagreement. A better approach is to put the issue on the table with humility and vulnerability and invite input.
In Quintin’s district, they rely on crowdsourcing from all parties—teachers, parents, students, staff, administrators, and community members—to help with complex issues like the pandemic response.
Listen to the episode “All in your head: Essential post-pandemic mental tactics for education leaders” to find out more about how the district’s response to COVID has worked out.