Growing Giants

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San Franciso Giants

For those who know me, you won’t be surprised that I was pumped when the San Francisco Giants clinched their recent World Series victory and third championship in the last five years. There’s nothing better for sports fans than your hometown team taking the trophy against long odds.

And I was particularly excited about this year’s victory because of what it shows about developing talent. On the Giants’ winning roster, 14 of the 25 players were homegrown talent, developed by the organization (including World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, who delivered a performance for the ages).

In a San Jose Mercury News article (“Homegrown Talent a Key to San Francisco Giants’ Latest Playoff Run”), general manager Brian Sabean said, “We spend a lot of time prioritizing which prospects are coming up, how long it will take them to get here. […] You've got to know your talent, first and foremost, and then you've got to be opportunistic.”

The Giants’ talent strategy has paid off big time.

But what does any of this have to do with education?

Working in education is the big leagues. Educating all students to thrive in life is incredibly high-stakes. To achieve great outcomes, we need more great, diverse talent in the sector, and we need more homegrown talent.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending Google’s re:Work conference, where we spent the day hearing from experts and leaders about how we, as employers and employees, can be happier, healthier, and more productive. In a nutshell, there are a lot of things we can do to grow ourselves and our teams.

Here are some key takeaways:

  1. Create high-performing work environments. In the kickoff to the conference, Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, notes that it’s not the free food that fuels Google’s tremendous success. Instead, their “high freedom” environment is a magnet to very talented people. This sentiment was echoed by Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman, who said “what Google is really about is empowerment with smart teams.” To attract and develop great people, it’s vital to create high-freedom work environments that enable great people to work together to solve big problems.
  2. Make learning happen. Karen May, Vice President of People Development at Google, talked about how Google grows its people by maximizing four characteristics of learning (it’s a process, it happens in real life, it’s personal, and it’s social). They tie learning directly to where people are – based on assessments – and give them specific resources to grow that are in direct response to individuals’ needs.
  3. Distribute leadership and decision making. Paul Saginaw, Co-Owner & Founding Partner of Zingerman’s Deli, shared stories of how his “organization with soul” (that also serves a mean sandwich) embraces complete employee empowerment for their 700 people. They employ “open book management” and trust their employees to make real decisions that affect the business’ bottom line. Paul shared that his company’s success comes from the choice to “develop the human potential that surrounds us.”

Our nation’s schools are chock-full of human potential. By growing ourselves and our teams, we can help millions of students follow in the footsteps of this decade’s San Francisco Giants and reach their full potential.

Let’s grow more giants.

 

Scott Morgan Scott Morgan is the Founder & CEO of Education Pioneers. He leads the organization to realize its vision to identify, train, connect, and inspire 10,000 diverse leaders and managers to accelerate systemic change across the education sector by 2023, EP’s 20th anniversary. An educator, attorney, and social entrepreneur, Scott believes that talented, diverse leaders can transform education for all students. During baseball season, you’ll find him just off the third base line at AT&T Park, proudly wearing orange and black.

 

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