Last weekend my Mum expressed concern about my job and the amount of plates I was spinning and exclaimed she didn’t know how I did it. I snorted in derision as I think we both knew she was a plate spinner of epic proportions as a primary school teacher. I then jokingly told my Mum that it was a clever use of cranks, sliders, connecting rods (remember I’m the daughter of D&T Teacher) which helped me use one movement to turn multiple plates in unison. However, as is often the way with Mums, her observation and comment struck me as important and I continued to think about it during the week, imagining myself as a clown (easy to do!) in a circus ring trying to spin as many plates on poles as possible.
A bit like a carvery there is a range of plate categories in the SBM cupboard – small, standard and large. Some are delicate plates handled with upmost care and others only come out on special occasions or by special request. Others are plastic resilient plates which don’t really care how they are treated and will quite happily wait for the sunny day picnic to come out and make an appearance. The chipped ones though need reviewing, as depending on the depth and length of their flaws mean they could alter their centre of mass, which could skew the rotation and end up in the axis of symmetry of a neighbouring plate and before you know it you are standing holding a clutch of poles sans plates, surrounded by broken china, scratching your head, wondering what on earth went wrong.
Some people, naming no names, can act like a bull in a china shop when their plans for the day trumps all the plates you are currently spinning. Unexpected demands, such as a SAR request have a similar affect. Other people act as Ticklemonsters. The naughty ones deliberately sabotage your ability to keep your plates spinning. The good ones are excellent at providing some light relief and help to put a smile on your face or provide a much-needed cup of tea, which all helps increase the ability to rotate the plates.
New plate category – the surprising additional plates, the ones you didn’t know were yours to spin!
No matter how long and hard a circus performer trains for, there will always be a limit on how many plates she can spin before they all come crashing to the floor. Likewise, all of us reach a point where we simply cannot spin another plate. At times you can find you are even spinning plates in your sleep, this is to be avoided at all costs as it has a negative impact on your ability to spin the actual plates. Use tools such as exercise, good food and a decent sleep routine to help you reduce the likelihood of this. Read “Eat Move Sleep” by Tom Rath to help you make decisions and change habits to reduce the likelihood of nighttime plate spinning. Volume of plates could be an issue for you, according to Wikipedia, The Guinness World Record for spinning multiple plates is held by David Spathaky, assisted by Debbie Woolley, who spun 108 plates simultaneously in Bangkok, Thailand, on television in 1996. Is this factually incorrect? Are you currently spinning more plates than this? Maybe you need to do review of your crockery, but don’t know where to start – use a Covey quadrant to prioritise the order of plates to start spinning and those which can be left to soak in the washing up bowl for a bit longer. Perhaps it is time to delegate and give a spinning plate or two to a colleague. Ensure a proper handover though, the delegation process of transferring from one hand to another can lead to disappointment on either side if not handled carefully.
It’s always good to compare and contrast your spinning plates with other SBMs, consider ease of spin, length of rotation, techniques for maintaining whirling with colleagues via your regional SBM group and on #SBMTwitter. Maybe you could be good Ticklemonster to another SBM? Whether you are brand new to SBM plate spinning, relatively experienced or have already started planning your exit strategy, “The School Business Manger’s Handbook” by Hayley Dunn is a valuable source of information to help you keep those plates geometrically centred.
New plate category – the surprising disappearing plate! The one which disappears as someone unexpectedly offers to take it off your hands and spin it for you. That happened to me this week and it was lush!
The way you choose to spin them can have a massive impact on working and family life. If you need a bit of a boost to help you rediscover your energy, happiness and purpose give “Shine” a go by Andy Cope and Gavin Oates. Or just make the most of this half term, either working quietly and with less interruptions from bulls in china shops and naughty Ticklemonsters or by searching for that plastic plate and having a lovely picnic in the sun with family and friends, being a good Ticklemonster. Happy SBM plate spinning!
Academy Business Leader