Digital Leadership and Scaling Innovation


The Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum is a comprehensive and exciting challenge for school leaders. The Curriculum has been introduced as a means of preparing our students for a world that is increasingly digitised and automated.

Digital technologies provide students with opportunities to:

  • Use design thinking
  • Be innovative developers of digital solutions and knowledge
  • Become innovative creators of digital solutions
  • Become effective users of digital systems
  • Become critical consumers of information conveyed by digital systems
  • Engage in authentic learning challenges that foster curiosity, confidence, persistence, innovation, creativity, respect and cooperation
  • Be regional and global citizens capable of actively and ethically communicating and collaborating.

School leaders have a great responsibility in developing a culture in their school that creates the environment for this critical learning to take place.

School leaders have two challenging tasks. First they must understand what is possible in digital teaching and learning. Secondly and most importantly they must take the next step of scaling up the fantastic innovations and creativity in teaching that they observe in their inspirational individual teachers – building an agenda for change and innovation that can have an enormous impact in a school.

How do you scale up to lead and innovate?

You really have to think about this and as a leader consciously work on it.

The trick to achieving sustainable change in schools is to learn how to scale innovation – how to take a great idea and have it reach every leader, teacher and student in the school.

Acknowledging the work of THNK (school of creative leadership) and the THNK community it is useful to think of scaling innovation by considering 3 main categories: Emergence, Networks and Waves. Keeping all 3 in mind as you seek to scale your innovations is definitely a sound idea.

Emergence is about keeping your eyes wide open for all the things that your teachers are doing as a collective. Hop onto it and as the good leader that you are, make sure that you design openness into the system and design rules for interaction, which allow successful behaviour to surface and spread.

Encourage (without stifling) target setting; emergence; and balancing control. Foster an ecosystem by bringing people in – expand to adjacencies, encourage the followers and engage the crowd. Experiment to improve and use the data to inform everyone how they are doing and keep moving forward.

Networks as a way of scaling innovation cannot be ignored.

Your job as an innovative leader is to take advantage of the properties of networks, the structures and technology supporting networks, and the social conditioning that exists with network members.

Networks have hubs and amplifiers – target them. If existing networks have gone to sleep, activate them. Encourage networks to jump across each other and infect each other with ideas. Aim to develop from this cross fertilisation, not another network, but a much larger coherent community and keep moving forward.

Emergence is a little like waiting to catch a wave. However the Wave category of innovation is not about that at all. It is about you taking the reins and exerting strong and powerful leadership.

The very powerful wave approach to innovation is about creating, nurturing and sustaining the wave and steering it in the direction of your entrepreneurial vison. You as the leader will unleash the wave, have others catch it, ride it and create a movement. You will synchronise all efforts and the wave will build to a crescendo always moving forward.

As we said at the beginning of this blog it is definitely a good idea to mesh all 3 approaches to scaling innovation.

For many years the Leading a Digital School Conference has been addressing the issue of how to scale innovation.

This is an invitation to attend the conference to add to your growing knowledge of what is possible with digital teaching and learning, and join the network of like-minded school leaders eager to take the best of the ideas presented and scale them up for the benefit of all students and teachers.

The conference is being held at the Crown Conference Centre, Melbourne on 25, 26 and 27 August 2016. Find out more in the Conference Flyer. Register now at:


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