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Fragments II: micro stories about the learning business

The Periodic Table of Advancement™

It might be argued that the genius of the Periodic Table of chemical elements was the manner in which it brought order and pattern to the apparent haphazard and chaotic nature of the physical universe.

There is no genius in this story, but I am suggesting that we can break Advancement down to a series of essential, irreducible, yet related elements. In other words, just as the atomic structure of the universe has been mapped and just as it has been determined that some elements lie in familial juxtaposition to one another, I am increasingly convinced that there is simple harmony, connection and pattern to the work that we do as Advancement professionals in schools.

I've written before about our attempts to define Advancement around the pillars of story, people and process. I've also shared what this can look like as a framework for professional growth. What you will see below, whilst linked to these ideas, is something a little different.

I invite you to take a moment to explore it, with the following questions in mind:*

  1. Does the Table capture the traditional functions of advancement, including marketing & admissions, communications, development & alumni? Are there other elements out there in the Advancement universe?

  2. Whilst the elements have been grouped vertically, can you see patterns emerging horizontally? Do you see other patterns emerging, based on your own experience?

  3. How might you use the Table as a tool for a team audit or prioritizing activity?

  4. What combination of elements do you need for certain "reactions" to occur? Is there a formula, for example, for "increasing community awareness of the school's Mission"?

  5. Are there some elements that are core and others that might be considered secondary?

*Simply hover over or, if you are using your phone, click on each of the squares below to see the guiding question that is at the heart of the each element. Alternatively, you can download your own copy here.

To those of us who have spent time in the business, much of this might seem obvious. In talking to people, however, I'm increasingly convinced that a lot of schools are only just embarking upon this journey.

And it's like they are opening a chemistry set for the first time.

A PDF of the Periodic Table of Advancement



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