Enabling work structures

We know that the best way to create ownership is to have those responsible for implementation develop the plan for themselves. . . It simply does not work to ask people to sign on [to a plan] when they haven’t been involved in the planning process.

– Margaret Wheatley

Interested in how your school is doing with ensuring enabling work structures for collective leadership? Use one of the self-assessments in the linked document below.

What do we mean by enabling work structures?

What enabling work structures look like: Teachers and administrators have time to plan together to set shared goals. Teachers have time to observe each other, provide peer feedback, and grow into hybrid roles that allow them to lead without leaving their classrooms.

The way work is designed for productivity impacts every work sector. The way schools design the work of teachers and administrators often determines how successful their improvement efforts will be. Effective work design that we have observed in schools includes 

  • co-teaching; 
  • collaborative planning time; 
  • analysis of student work; 
  • reciprocal observation where teachers observe each other; 
  • peer feedback; 
  • job-embedded professional learning for teachers and administrators together; 
  • professional learning communities built around identified needs; and 
  • hybrid roles for teachers and administrators. 

If leadership is about work toward shared goals, then the work must be designed around those shared goals in order to support the people best suited to do the work. 

In general, any work design that allows effective teachers to spread their expertise is useful. Specifically, effective work design looks like teachers creating learning experiences and assessments together, observing one another teach, and examining student work collaboratively. When administrators also engage in this work, they can catalyze school improvement by facilitating coherence and learning from and with teachers.

The importance of enabling work structures

Educators are already overwhelmed with the number of tasks and responsibilities that they have been assigned. Over and over again, the issue of time is cited as perhaps the biggest challenge to getting everything done. Collective leadership is not another thing to do; rather, it provides an opportunity to rethink and redesign how work gets done and by whom. 

In order to rethink and redesign how work gets done, enabling work structures must be created and implemented. Without enabling work structures, collective leadership, or any new endeavor, will not be sustainable. Integrating enabling work structures into the way your school approaches the work will signal its importance and that this is not just another unnecessary workload addition.


Is your team ready to dive into the work of creating enabling work structures for collective leadership? Complete the form below to get access to all of the conditions strategy guides.


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