Ridin’ for the Brand

In Clovis Unified, we are opening up our fifth high school – the Clovis North Broncos.  In celebration, our opening school year theme is “Ridin’ for the Brand.”  The administrators of the district (of which I am now considered) got together for the past two days at the “administrative charge” session – more than 100 people attended.  During this time, principles of leadership, district policies and district initiatives are discussed.

This year, in preparation for the charge session, we read the book Ridin’ for the Brand, the Power of Purposeful Leadership (2005) by Jim Whitt.  The book discusses the importance of purposeful leadership and starts out asking, “What is your purpose?”  The book is set in the year 2030 and a reporter goes out to the western land of Oklahoma where a reclusive CEO has experienced great success in the cattle business – their purpose is to “feed a hungry world.”  The story is told in a series of analogies by the CEO, who still rides a horse and works on the farm (even in 2030).  By the end of the book the CEO – Burns Marcus – uses a diamond to identify the four principles of successful business: purpose, partners, pioneers that lead to profit.  One part of the book discusses the importance of each member of the team to reach “Team Actualization” or “what happens when we contribute our singularly unique purposes to a common purposes to a common purpose – a greater cause.”  In another part of the book, the author states, “Managers understand the tangibles.  Leaders understand the intangibles.”

At the administrative charge session, we discussed our purpose (students),  and the importance of partnering with the various educational stakeholders – students, teachers, librarians, and parents.  We also celebrated our successes of the past year including a number of our schools meeting district, state and federal goals.

As I read this book, I couldn’t help but apply the principles in this book to the whole Web 2.0 movement.  As educators, we each individually have to define our purpose.  However, that purpose is not fully realized until others validate it through blog comments or in response to a podcast.  Partnering is a key part of 2.0 – using wikis, skypecasts, twitter friends, ning friends and blog rolls as well as sharing recent discoveries that increase student engagement.  Finally, those involved in the read-write web are certainly pioneers – challenging various teachers and administrators to embrace the best of what the web has to offer to the benefit of students.  The result is the “profit” or more engaged and enlightened students who become lifelong learners.

The book ends by asking the readers to consider these questions:

  • Look back 30 years ago and describe what the world and your industry looked like.  What has changed in the past 30 years?
  • Now, look 30 years into the future and describe what the world and your industry will look like.  What changes will take place in the next 30 years?
  • What will you, as an individual, have to do to be part of the future you just described?
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