OASBO The Advocate - Fall/Winter 2015 - (Page 6)

INNOvaTE, adapT... ENgagEmENT TakES ChaNgE TO ThE NExT lEvEl By Michelle Morra-Carlisle "A dapt-innovate-Engage" is OASBO's bold new theme and its focus for the upcoming year. What it really refers to is change. "Without a doubt, we live in times of rapid change, constant change," says Mark Carbone, Chief information Officer at the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB). "With higher-thanever demands to deliver change, school boards are challenged to find business efficiencies and improvements and change instructional practices, with fixed or less funding." Like most workplaces, school boards continue looking for ways to do things better but with the same or fewer resources than in the past. Revenue streams are fairly tight. Another reality is that many aging workers are leaving, and not all will be replaced. Even without these added constraints, improvements are never as easy in practice as they are in theory. How we do our work, or change the way we do it, can clash with stakeholder and end-user expectations. it seems to be a theme among school business officials - pressure to do better. Boards must continually improve, just like any workplace, but are under more scrutiny, being accountable to students, parents and the public at large. 6 A Three-Tier Theme "Adapt-innovate-Engage is something that we've been moving toward over the last three years," says OASBO Executive Director Bill Blackie. A few years ago, the association focused on the concept of innovation and creativity in the education sector. its next theme - mentorship - was chosen as a way to move some of those innovations forward. Then, with all of this change in the works, it was time to learn how to "adapt" to change. "innovation continues to be important," Blackie says, "because you can't always do things the way you did them in the past. But then you need to adapt [to that new work environment your innovations have created]." So where does the third element - "engage" - come in? it has to do with buy-in. Those people affected by change in the workplace should, ideally, be active stakeholders in it. "Staff involvement with an employer is huge in terms of their productivity," Blackie says, "and the same applies to school boards." Technology, for example, is just a tool. People may be aware that such wonders exist and can change the way they work, Blackie says, "but until we build a rhythm around why and how they happen it's still kind of stilted." in another example, the notion of shared services is sometimes easier said than done. implementing a means for two or more school boards to share one purchasing department, for instance, is more complex than it sounds. And having one school board host another school board's web server looks a lot different in practice than on paper. it takes a willing, adaptable, engaged workforce to make such initiatives really work. Up Close and Personal A few years back, OASBO tried to find ways to get people together, even if not face-to-face. The association did this through teleconferencing, which allowed people remote from the Toronto area to take part in meetings. But now, Blackie says, it's time to find other ways to bridge the gap and better support members in remote areas. Social networking has certainly contributed to engagement by allowing people to ask questions and make suggestions, often via threaded conversations. Several productive conversations later, OASBO is now looking at other ways to connect people: through GoToMeeting or Skype for Business, or videoconferencing if available. These technologies add a new element: the ability for participants to not only hear but also see each other. "if you can see them, that's huge," Blackie says. "You begin to build a tighter rapport between the presenter and the audience." Progress is already evident, he says, particularly in the francophone boards' ability to adopt videoconferencing. "They use it regularly and quite successfully," he says. "French boards are very large and diverse and have become very effective at using videoconferencing for presentations for their senior staff." As for the other boards, he hopes to make the technology work this year. When that happens, "we're going to find we're reaching people we wouldn't have reached before. it will mean that overall, in the province, we will have bigger Fall/Winter ■ 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of OASBO The Advocate - Fall/Winter 2015

2015 William J. Wales Award Winner: Steve Shaw
67th OMC Annual Conference - Kingston
Meet OASBO’s New President
Health & Safety in Schools - What Teachers & Staff Need to Know
Transportation Committee Report
Buyers’ Guide and Trade List

OASBO The Advocate - Fall/Winter 2015