Fragments II: micro stories about the learning business

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  • David Willows

An Advancement Manifesto for 2020

Right now, as we commit to unlearning Advancement at the International School of Brussels, we are on something of a rollercoaster ride; in one moment experiencing the joy of new discovery and, in the next, realising that we’ve hit a dead end.


We’ve been looking for clues in our quest by talking to colleagues in many different lines of work. We’ve been reading about self-managed teams and the power of holacracy to stimulate agile and purpose-driven work environments. And we are discovering that the old world of reporting structures and hierarchy is, in some companies, already long gone and replaced by a new lexicon of “scrums”, “sprints”, and “stand-ups”.


What we keep returning to, however, is the importance of the Manifesto; a set of principles that defines the culture of a team and articulates what it values most.


Unlearning Advancement is our quest and the Manifesto is our map.

So here is our Advancement Manifesto for 2020.

  1. We tell stories that inspire.

  2. We connect people.

  3. We focus on what matters, and if we decide to go off track, we talk about it first.

  4. We are all innovators, but each of us brings a different superpower to the table.

  5. We are always a team first and individuals second.

  6. We fix things that are broken, and sometimes break things to understand how they might work better.

  7. We allow each other to make mistakes and try to learn from them.

  8. We sometimes disagree, but choose to move forward with one voice.

  9. We track progress and set ambitious targets.

  10. We celebrate our achievements and our birthdays.

  11. We have each other’s backs, on the good days and the bad.

  12. We serve our school by understanding what it is today and imagining what it might be tomorrow.

Over time, we will continue to edit and update this expression of who we are and who we aspire to be. We are already better at some of these principles than others. But each one matters insofar as it codifies, in plain speech, what we value most.


In his book, 12 Rules of Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan Peterson sets out a series of “rules” that he argues do not restrict us so much as enable us to live fuller, freer lives.


Our hope is that our Manifesto, in the end, will have the same effect.

Photo by Tobias Mrzyk on Unsplash

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