“An organisation is only as good as it’s conversations”

Earlier this year Brendan Spillane, a consultant who the Sandhurst Diocese has employed to work with Leadership Teams and staff, discussed the “Forum Board” which was being used at a school in New Zealand.

The concept behind the “Forum Board” is a simple one. If a staff member believes the school is moving away from their vision, then the staff member may list the item/issue on the board. If enough staff sign their initials next to the post then it will be discussed with members of the Leadership Team.

For myself, I believe it was Brendan’s quote, of which there are many, that brought the concept of the forum board to life.

“An organisation is only as good as its conversation.”

So, with this in mind, at our Leadership and Combined Leaders meeting we discussed how the Forum Board would look at Catholic College Wodonga.

I presented the following information at a staff briefing and via an email.

  1. If a staff member would like to place an item on the board they must be able to discuss how this item is moving our College away from our Vision.
  2. The staff member who posted the item needs to place their staff code next to the item and the date.
  3. The item will remain on the board for one week.
  4. 10% of our staff would need to support the item for it to move to the next stage. Therefore, 8 staff will co-sign the item with their staff code & date.
  5. Once the required number of staff initials have been gathered we will then convene a meeting on the next Friday at 8:10am. This meeting will be chaired by two members of the Leadership Team.
  6. A decision will be then made by the Leadership Team, they will/will not deal with the issue/make the suggested change.

Before we held out first meeting I made contact with Brendan to explain where we were up to. He suggested I make contact with Mike Gillett from Hutt Intermediate School in New Zealand. Mike and Brendan’s advice was important and allowed me to consider my role in chairing the meeting.

In the first instance, I informed staff that any items that needed further discussion would go to the Leadership Team. On reflection this was wrong. If an organisation is as good as their conversations, then taking the conversation to just the Leadership Team is not transparent.

It was very clear from the first Forum Board that some issues were easy to solve; therefore the decision could be made on the spot. For example, this year we have one preparation day before all students returned for 2015. This placed pressure on staff that were working in new teams as well as the new staff who started at CCW (we had 17 new staff). In 2016 we will revert back to two days for team meetings and preparation before students return.

For myself, it was wonderful to hear staff discuss how we, in their eyes, need to align ourselves back to our vision. Importantly, all discussions focused on how we improve the current situation. This lead to construct and open input which was solution focused.

At our first staff meeting of this term I presented the key points from the discussions at our two Forum Board meetings. One component of this was our draft strategic plan for the coming three years, as well as other activities that will bring greater clarity.

Overall I found the Forum Board activity to be one which allowed myself, DP Staff and Leadership Team to explain what is on the horizon for our staff as well as to highlight what we see as the key initiatives that we will be involved in over the coming years.

8 thoughts on ““An organisation is only as good as it’s conversations”

  1. Maree

    Nice one Darta! Nice read.. I liked this idea too that Darrn spoke about Like the blog pic! The great views of the mighty North East Vic!


  2. Bernadette Albertson

    Interesting discussions await you Darta! Feedback from staff that will lead to looking forward (through the windscreen) and not backward (through the rear vision mirror). Enjoy!!!


  3. Shane Piper


    Your WordPress looks great, engaging first topic. I can see you using for four main audiences; students, parents, CCW staff and outside educators / leaders.

    Well done!


  4. Sharon Allsop

    Fantastic – I particularly like this comment “On reflection this was wrong. If an organisation is as good as their conversations, then taking the conversation to just the Leadership Team is not transparent” – It shows inclusion and transparency – signs of ‘servant leadership’. Looking forward to reading more.


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