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What’s your DNA?

Mark Burgess, Assistant Principal and Lou Deibe, Assistant Principal Culture, Collaboration & Practice at Northern Beaches Christian School

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Every cell in our body contains the instructions for who we are. In scientific terms, this is our DNA. Our DNA, or our genes, encode the proteins that make us who we are and define our emotional make-up.

People often discuss the influence of nature and nurture, and how a combination of our genes and our experiences, contribute to who we are. Similarly, we can apply the concept of DNA to our organisation. It is important to take an opportunity to discover the core of who you are as an organisation that unique combination of vision and values (the ‘DNA’) and the collective experience.

The DNA of a community is developed over time by the people who inhabit it. This is slightly different to the inherited DNA of an organism, but nonetheless, it is a useful analogy for encapsulating the culture and purpose of an organisation.

Do you know what the DNA of your community is? Can you recognise it when you see it?

Do you instinctively know when behaviours are incongruous with the DNA of your organisation?

The critical question to ask yourselves is: ‘As leaders within our communities, how do we shape culture? How do we influence the DNA?’. The familiar cliché ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’, underlines the power that organisational culture has to influence the success of the individuals and the organisation. Over a number of years at NBCS, we have been developing a series of activities, ideas and resources that are used to ‘onboard’ people into our community, building relationship and developing agency – imbuing them with our DNA.

In an attempt to communicate our ‘DNA’, we arrived at five core values that interconnect to reflect our priorities and practice: Relationship, Collaboration, Creativity, Agency and Adventure.

‘Relationship’ trumps everything. In practice this means, if I must choose between immediate academic success in my class over my relationship with a student, I choose relationship. Following relationship, we value ‘Collaboration’ – everything in life is richer in a team. ‘Creativity’ is essential to create challenging and engaging learning experiences. Likewise a sense of ‘Adventure’ brings much-needed excitement for our students and colleagues, with the unexpected promise and possibility of the unknown and the unpredictable. And then there is ‘Agency’ – recognising the value and contribution of everyone in our community ensures that we are all motivated as we have some control over our existence and an ultimately, the sense of belonging to our people.

All these values work together as a cohesive whole to make up our DNA. It gives our community strength and connectedness.

So, we ask you again – “What’s your DNA?”

Come along and join us in meaningful conversations at the Leading a Digital School Conference. Our team will be presenting a spotlight session and several workshops. Check out the program @ https://www.iwb.net.au/digital/program/


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