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Fragments II: micro stories about the learning business

What I learned from Netflix about the future story of my school

When it comes to the link between organisational culture and storytelling, Michael Margolis puts it best. “If you want to learn about a culture listen to the stories. If you want to change a culture, change the stories.”

Good stories - as opposed to our jargon-filled slogans - weave together our values, goals, hopes, dreams, assumptions and attitudes into a narrative that is multi-layered, complex, but good enough to live by; powerful enough to inspire; and resilient enough to lead us through challenging times. Good stories tell us where we've been and where we are heading. They give us cause to celebrate, and when the proverbial hits the fan - to borrow the words of Ewan McIntosh - they remind us of our true north.

A week ago, I came across a story like this that I wish I had written.

A photograph of a laptop open at the Netflix homepage
Netflix has released a story that expresses a progressive culture of work.

And like many who read it before me, the story was so engaging that, by the time I was half way through, I wanted to be part of the story. I wanted, in another life, to go and work for Netflix.

Of course, at one level, it's hard not to be impressed by a company that endorses a progressive working culture and upholds a parental leave policy that is simply "take care of your baby and yourself".

But it's more than that.

As I read and re-read these pages, I begin to reflect on our responsibility to tell the story of our schools with a new sense of candor, courage, and conviction; to hold on to what we believe by first determining what we believe; to have the courage to be selective about what we believe - to be something to some people, rather than all things to all people; and to articulate these beliefs in ways that everyone can actually understand;

This is difficult but important work, not just for our future marketing campaigns, but because these words change culture.

These stories change how other people see us, but they also change how we see ourselves.

And, ultimately, they change the kind of schools we will become.



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