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Fragments II: micro stories about the learning business

Are Annual Reports dead?

Google it and this is what you get:

"Get ready to shed a tear at the passing of the Annual Report-that glossy paean to management's genius will soon be history. The Annual Report is becoming as out-dated as the typewriter." (David Robinson)

Robinson's conclusion is certainly food for thought and connects to a number of connected questions and challenges we have faced in recent years:

  • How do we get the Report out in a timely manner?

  • How do we responsibly manage our use of paper?

  • How do we measure lasting impact for a document that takes so much time to produce?

We still produce an Annual Report each year. We continue to wrestle with these questions, every year. And maybe, in the end, we are witnessing the slow demise of a document that follows in the wake of the traditional school prospectus.

But before we toss this year's Report into the trash, allow me to suggest that the reason it is still important to us is because it allows us to stop and craft our story in a meaningful and intentional way.

Cover image of the ISB annual report 2016-17
The latest ISB Annual Report is a story of two halves. The latest ISB Annual Report is a story of two halves.

School life is frenetic. One minute, we are welcoming new families. Before we know it, the winter holidays are past and we are falling headlong towards end-of-year events and another season of goodbyes.

The Annual Report is a moment when a set of individuals in the community look back and ask, What just happened?

The filter we use to capture this snapshot may differ over time or, indeed, from school to school. For some of us the Annual Report captures the impact of community support. For others it is an opportunity to celebrate student success.

In the end, however, the point is that it is really less about the product and much more about the process.

In writing our story, we stop for a moment and create meaning. We make sense of what just happened. We join the dots.

And this changes us, even more than it changes our readers.

The online version of the ISB Annual Report 2016-2017 was recently published here.


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