Educational institution scan be viewed through multiple lenses, like those offered by Morgan (1998). The various “images” of organizations Morgan (1998) offers allows for strategic insight and critical evaluation of an educational organization struggling to meet the needs of a diverse student body. By applying the lessons learned in case studies like the Multicom case, it is possible to develop solutions to issues like the James Clark story at David Woods Elementary School. Additional lenses or images of organizations include the Biblical perspective. Although not discussed directly by Morgan (1998), a Biblical perspective lends insight into how educators and members of the community can work together towards common goals.
James is a student who, in a classical organizational framework, would be considered a “client.” However, an educational organization is different from a for-profit business. James is not a client in the way a customer might be for a telecommunications company or even for a private for-profit educational institution. In this case, David Woods Elementary School is a public institution, funded by taxpayers and serving the public in ways that transcend profit. The goals of public education include creating a better society by developing the young minds that will be the future leaders of the nation and the world. With this ultimate organizational mission and vision statement in mind, the administrators of David Woods Elementary can apply a Biblical perspective right alongside the structural, systems, cultural, and political lenses.
Michel (2005) stresses the importance of strategic foresight in Biblical leadership. Strategic foresight involves keeping in mind the central mission of the organization and its core values. Leaders need to be honest in their self-assessment, both of their own individual work and contributions to the organization and also with regards to honest evaluation of the organization’s performance. In this case, the school administrators need to perform some quantitative and qualitative analyses on their students to keep track of the root causes and consequences of psychological or social difficulties experienced by students. An honest evaluation of the organization will reveal weaknesses in the educational structure, pedagogy, learning environment, or resources used in the classroom. Similarly, community leaders can be called upon to participate in a strategic foresight action committee in order to promote the values and ideals that promote student success.
Leaders in educational institutions can be viewed through a Biblical lens as servant-leaders or as spiritual stewards. As Oberholster (1993) suggests, stewardship in a Christian perspective means being accountable to all stakeholders. In this case, the educators and educational administrators are accountable to students like James, the parents of all students, and to all residents of the community. Spiritual leaders also remain humble in all situations; instead of blaming James or his parents, it would be more effective to take responsibility for the school’s own role. Being proactive requires humility, honesty, and a willingness to change. In the spirit of strategic foresight, leaders in education develop “clear strategies as to how they can achieve the goal that was set before them,” in the same way that leaders who were “in tune with God” do in the Bible (Michel, 2005). Educators and administrators can work together to develop strategic action plans for specific students like James, but those plans can also affect the entire student body to improve outcomes. As Michel (2005) points out, no leader works alone. From a Biblical perspective, leadership is a shared and common program of action. “Strategy should be a team effort; it is not to be done alone,” (Michel, 2005).
A Biblical perspective can be a helpful lens to complement those offered by Morgan (1998). The Bible presents specific guidance for educational leaders. For example, the Bible suggests that educational leaders work with their colleagues, community members, parents, and students to solve problems like those outlined in the case study of James. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed,” (Proverbs 15:22). Similarly, Proverbs 20:18 states, “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.” By working in tandem with other leaders and stakeholders, the action plan will be more successful as it blends a Biblical point-of-view with the other lenses of organizations including the brain metaphor, political metaphor, domination metaphor, machine, organism, culture, psychic prison, and “flux and transformation” metaphor (Morgan, 1998, p. 350). Creating partnerships is in fact one of the key educational goals when working with students like James, who struggle socially as they enter adolescence.
Finally, a Biblical perspective can help teachers and educational administrators understand how to address problems via compassion and redemption rather than by using punitive measures. Punishments may result in students like James resenting the school and its teachers instead of seeing that educators are dedicated to helping their students. Troubled students need the help of their teachers, who can serve as stewards and guides. As Oberholster (1993) puts it, “Workers are not seen merely as physical beings with social and psychological needs, but as a fellow stewards…who have the same purpose in life – playing a role in the plan of salvation.” Within the lens of a spiritual organization, a school like David Woods can cultivate the best in each student, preparing James and his peers for a fruitful and productive life ahead. The goal of an educational organization includes moral, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development. Educational goals can be fulfilled more readily by applying the tools of a Biblical perspective alongside the political, structures, systems, and cultural lenses.
Michel, D. (2005). Iinsight into strategic foresight: A biblical perspective. Leadership Advance Online 4(2005). Retrieved online: http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/lao/current_issue/insight_strategic_foresight_michel.htm
Morgan, G. (1998). Images of Organization. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
Oberholster, B. (1993). Management: A Christian perspective. Retrieved online: http://ict.aiias.edu/vol_12/12cc_229-243.htm
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