The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida pains our hearts and rightly we all want to find ways to prevent this from happening ever again. But in the noise that batters the airwaves about new laws and such, we found a quiet example of how one person is taking action in her sphere of influence, as a teacher.  Her insightful use of data helps her find who needs help to connect with others, one of the deepest social needs.  Then we will see how her insightful data gathering can help us get ideas for how to develop metrics for our teams.

We encourage you to read the article. This teacher’s strategy for finding disconnectedness in students apply to your job as a team leader and your own project metrics.  How?

  1. She took action out of caring, not out of fear. That is the work of a serving leader.
  2. It’s pretty clever that she is looking for what the measure isn’t saying, not what it is saying.
  3. Note that it’s a simple measure, but admire her diligence and discipline in keeping it for so long.
  4. It’s interesting that she is using math to quantify that absolutely necessary component for all of us… to feel and be connected.

Servant Leadership: Care, not Fear

This teacher demonstrated that her students mattered much more than how well they learn long division, but how they are developing as people. We love how she used her mathematical acumen to show she cared.

Is there a struggle your teammates are facing larger than the project (a company merger, pay/benefits changes, or challenges at home)?

Team Leaders are tasked with project completion, and these things can overwhlem the success of the team members (and therefore the project). Connecting with your team as people help you find these barriers and is proven to help your team succeed. We have a handy little class to give you resources to help build a team that has psychological safety, and with that, more predictable success.

A NON-signal tells the story

This teacher was looking for disconnected students. That would typically lead down the path of asking questions about feeling lonely or being bullied. When we measure something, it changes the behavior of the system. That’s why it’s important to be intentional with what we measure.  That’s the genius here, this teacher measures desirable qualities to learn what she really wants to know, what is NOT there.

Measuring the positive can give insight into the negative by looking for holes in the data.

Are you looking for problems?  Take a try looking for success in the process, and the absence of data in part of your process might indicate a problem.

It takes time…

We are busy. We want it yesterday. The world changes in a moment.  We can’t wait!!!!

This is the other challenge in measuring performance, you need to take data over time. It is easy to be tempted to take a measurement and go with that one data point (or a couple), but that’s bad math.  Please don’t do it!  If the teacher did this, she might end up advising help to more students (or the wrong students) and then subvert her credibility and her system.  Looking for a pattern is a statistical process control thing, and to take a very broad brush with this, you need at least 30 data points to consider it a “large” sample.  Need more? We’d be happy to help…

Connection is fundamental

We believe being connected as a team is the biggest factor in predicting project success, but what is it, really?!?! Here’s a few things you can do to build a connected team.

  • Have you told every member of the team why they are valuable for this team?
  • Do teammates share in a way that makes them vulnerable to teammates?  For example, when they don’t understand, don’t agree, or just don’t know something.
  • Are the real issues brought up, or hidden behind stoic faces and phone screens?

We have written a lot about this…here’s a few resources for ya!

Predicting Humanness

This teacher showed that there are ways to see below the surface of human interactions.  Even so, history proves over and over again that despite the most sophisticated statistics and data tracking, predicting another person’s actions is very difficult, if not impossible. This can lead to uplifting stories of amazing achievement despite predictions of failure, or missing a signal of disconnection that leads to tragedy.

Even though predictions aren’t perfect, we know each time we measure to build connections it is making a positive impact.  This teacher’s efforts are so refreshing and insightful that we hope by sharing the idea we can help you be a positive force in your circle of influence to build communities that we all need.

We encourage you to join us in keeping those students, the parents, the town in our prayers.


Here’s the article for reference:

One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings—and It’s Not About Guns

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