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Ready for Take-off! Getting your Star-bright Ideas off the Ground

by Dr. Candace Nykiforuk University of Alberta | February 18 2016 | 1 Comment

Is it just me or does everyone get a bit misty-eyed watching a rocket launch? The collective feeling of optimism, pride and achievement at our scientific progress for mankind can be staggering. Feeling that your own work and ideas are being heard and implemented within a school community can feel just as good. But how do you get your own star-bright ideas off the ground?

Whether you are as prepared as Chris Hadfield prior to launch, backed up by a competent and eager support team, or working on your own launching pop-bottle rockets in the backyard, the Idea Readiness Tool has the resources to help you soar!

The Idea Readiness Tool (IRT) was designed to help wellness “champions” get their ideas off the ground, using simple steps and strategies in the process. The tool can be used by teachers, support staff, school administrators, parents, students or anyone else interested in encouraging healthy school community development. Change can be complicated and occurs differently depending on how ‘ready for change’ a school community is. Knowing how to assess the school community’s level of readiness for a new idea can help with the process of change. You can assess the readiness of your school community using the IRT’s one-page checklist. Once you know how “ready” your school community is to launch, you will be linked with strategies and resources matched to that level of readiness to help you take off with that new idea!

 

Maybe you’re an Innovator: Adventurous, and a role model for others!
("I want to be the first wellness champion in space!")

‘Innovator’ school communities are attracted by high-reward ideas and have a greater tendency to take risks. They are able to cope with elevated levels of uncertainty about the new idea they are adopting (often because of existing resources or supports in place). Innovators are typically willing to bear the initial problems that may accompany a test launch of new ideas and are able to identify solutions for these problems.

Some strategies for Innovators are to:

  • Frame the idea to appeal to the innovative spirit of the school community
    • Present information in a way that enhances the school community’s credibility or reputation as an Innovator (or leader). For example, emphasize how their actions will set the stage for other schools or how they will be among the first in the school district, province/territory or country to adopt the idea.
  • Generate support from the leadership team
    • The goal is to create a sense of excitement for the proposed idea and to encourage the leadership team to feel personally invested in its implementation.

 

Perhaps you’re in the Majority, and more of the deliberate type.
("Fly to Mars?! Sounds cool, but will I be back for school on Monday?")

‘Majority’ school communities need some time to determine whether or not to adopt a new idea. This group seldom leads the pack when it comes to adopting new ideas. They are of the philosophy that it is better to change as a group than to be the first one to change, and potentially crash. Considering this, they tend to adopt new ideas at about the same time as the average school community.

Some strategies for the Majority are to:

  • Provide evidence and examples
    • Provide evidence that outlines how a similar idea has been adopted and is working for another school community with a similar context.
  • Frame the idea from the ‘Majority’ perspective
    • A Majority-type school community would rather change with other schools than be one of the first to change. Keep this group mentality in mind and work with the idea that while they may not want to be the first to change, it is also likely that they do not want to be left behind by other school communities either.
  • Provide tools and incentives for adopting the new idea
    • Match the school community with an agency or local non-government organization that has a stake in the idea and can provide the school community with ongoing support as it goes through the process of moving forward with the new idea.

 

It may be that you’re more of a cautious, Late Adopter.
("Watching The Martian was enough for me, thanks!")

‘Late Adopter’ school communities are traditional, cautious or skeptical of new ideas or eager to maintain the status quo. They usually wait until an idea has been adopted by the majority of other school communities before implementing it themselves. They want to be sure that rocket will get where it’s supposed to go before they strap in! Sometimes, they may need to be pressured into adopting a new idea, or may never adopt the new idea unless required to.

Some strategies for Late Adopters are to:

  • Provide evidence to show the benefits of the new idea outweigh the costs
    • Illustrate how school communities with similar characteristics have successfully adopted and implemented the proposed idea, and the positive impact that the idea has had. Emphasize the detrimental impact of maintaining the status quo.
  • Build strategic relationships with key stakeholders
    • Administrators, teachers, staff, students, parents, community members, school board members, city councilors and provincial representatives can help your idea to spread and gain momentum.
  • Understand the unique needs of the school community and address underlying barriers
    • When working with Late Adopters, there are often underlying barriers inhibiting the adoption of a new idea. To successfully start moving a new idea forward with a Late Adopter, you may need to do some leg work debunking myths, providing evidence and being prepared to counter arguments of those who oppose the idea.

Whatever stage your school community is at, your command centre recommends the Idea Readiness Tool to help you fly! You can find out where you are at (level of readiness) for each new idea—readiness can change over time or with different kinds of ideas. Once you do, the tool will guide you to all the strategies and resources you’ll need for take-off!

Dr. Candace Nykiforuk

As an associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta and health promotion superhero, Candace has spent the bulk of her career focusing on aiding communities in the development and implementation of healthy public policy and creating healthy environments. These accomplishments notwithstanding, Candace has been unable to conquer her fear of heights despite her superhuman ability to make a frog with her hands.

Shandy M. ASEBP | February 19 2016 3:56 PM

As someone who has used the Idea Readiness Tool first-hand, I am so thrilled it has been adapted for the school community. I first used the tool when I was trying to move forward healthy public policy change in Alberta. It helped me realize the savings in time, energy and the very limited financial resources, that could be had by taking the time to assess readiness for change (or in this case, policy adoption) and change my strategies accordingly. Brilliant blog Candace!