Deeper Driver

When seeking to achieve something transformational in a complex ecosystem, be it in a company or in society, pause and listen. Learn what is needed to create success - the Drivers of Success.

In business, for instance, we know that by focusing on not just short-term financial management, but on "customer advocacy" (measured by NPS), companies are more likely to increase their long-term stock value.

When I started working with the Portland Police Bureau to improve public safety in the area around 162nd and Burnside in East Portland, I knew that our external measure of success would be the crime rate. This area had one of the highest crime rate in the entire city.

But I also knew that, in order to be successful, we should not focus on that metric, but on the deeper driver underneath that statistic.

We focused on what mattered that would, we believed, reshape the ecosystem's dynamics and eventually lower the crime rate. We focused on creating a sense of "belonging".

So one day, sitting in a coffee shop, John, a police officer, and I drew the outlines of a new neighborhood and called it "Rosewood". We then formed an organization called the Rosewood Initiative that built a space of belonging, a community center on the corner of 162nd and Stark. And, in that space, Jenny and her staff firmly planted the intention of unconditional belonging. The doors are open, everyone belongs.

Eight years later the experiment continues to thrive. And, yes, the crime rate has decreased.

In education we use graduation rates to measure success. In Oregon, we have some of the lowest graduation rates in the country. It's a crisis.

In The Dayton Experiment, Jami and I have never talked about graduation rates, but we always knew that this was the measurement that the external world would use to gauge our success. Instead, we focused on the deeper driver, student "engagement".

Any educator can walk into a classroom and see, within a few seconds, if there is real learning going on. What they are looking for and feeling is the level of authentic engagement. Are students curious and courageously following a learning journey? It's obvious when the are. And when they aren't. That's what matters.

So, over the last four years I have working with Jami and her staff at Dayton to introduce practices of our agile culture into her school to empower students as the co-creators of their learning experience. To help give them new opportunities to find their passions, passions that release their inherent creative genius. To expect greatness from every student.

And it's working. Their graduation rate is now 96.8%, one of the highest in state. They are achieving success by focusing on what matters.

Explore the Concept of Obliquity the lies behind this approach.