SBMs are like…

This week I had the pleasure of attending the Cotswold Edge Teaching Alliance’s first School Business Leadership Development Day held @workingsbm2017’s stunning school.  Workshops included SBM Networking, the SRMA and ICFP, The new SBM, Managing your career path, Managing your estate and Managing your Headteacher.  It really was a fantastic day and it was great to be part of it.  From it we have some new SBL Twitter members AND encouraged some SBL Twitter lurkers to step outside their comfort zone and start engaging in our online discussions – fab!  We also had the wonderful Real David Cameron speak.  Now I have heard him four times and each time I have laughed lots, cried at the Ian Wright bit, felt enthused about my role and reassured that we are all in this together, I’m not on my own. I’ve also taken or heard different messages from the content each time.  I would like to share three of the messages I heard this week from The Real David Cameron with you.

Establish the subtraction calculation – when you introduce a new initiative either within your school or within your office, is it replacing a previous initiative? Are you amending an existing initiative?  Ultimately, what are you going to stop doing as a result?  We can all be guilty of piling on more pressure on ourselves and our teams by adding more content to our work and not actively reduce the content by focussing on our out of date practices, no longer relevant content or failing to embrace new work flows or IT systems which could help.  I know this can take precious time to think through, but it could eventually save you and your team time and improve the impact you are having.  It will also help to reduce the occurrences of continuously painting wet walls – that is introducing a new initiative before the previous one had been embedded or reflected upon – changing things for change sake or in a desperate attempt to keep up with latest thinking which actually might not relate to your school’s context.  We all know from bitter experience that you need to wait for your wall of paint to dry before you can apply the next layer – quality, performance, durability are impacted otherwise.  And remember you have to live with that badly painted wall!  

SBMs are like Kidneys! declared The Real Dave Cameron as everything goes through them.  This was met with lots of chortles and nods of agreement.  But actually there is more to it then everything goes through them.  As I write this at my kitchen table, I’ve referred to my youngest son’s GCSE Biology revision notes so here comes the science bit – in case you didn’t know Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist and filter your blood, removing wastes and extra water to make urine.  Without them balance, nerves, muscles, and other tissues in your body may not work normally.  Kidneys are vital in the body’s homeostasis (maintaining the right conditions in your body, so everything works properly).  Anyone else see the link with school business leadership? How SBMs are part of a school’s homeostatsis and helping maintain balance by filtering information, controlling functions to prevent budgets from bursting or outcomes from shrinking, adjusting inputs to maintain constants, responding under high pressure, selectively reabsorbing aspects based on a negative feedback system and my favourite… removing waste from the system.  

We don’t need a Biology GCSE to know that kidneys can go wrong and may require additional support (in real life this could be drugs, dialysis machine or transplant -sorry I really am combining writing this blog with helping my youngest revise!).  Are you able to help a struggling kidney / SBM?  via networking either with your local regional group or #SBLTwitter, being on the end of a phone and responding to requests for help?  Whatever you do, I hope you get to see The Real David Cameron and that you know who to turn to if your homeostatis in your school needs support before you get to the “kidney failure” stage.

Helen Burge

Deputy COO (Primary) and Academy Business Leader

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