wasting bandwidth since 1999

Rearranging the Cubes

I’ve worked in the central office bureaucracy of our overly-large school district long enough to know that one thing bureaucracies love to do is reorganize themselves.

It’s pretty much a given that when the leadership at the top changes, the org chart is going to get rewritten not long after. Financial problems tend to accelerate the process.

Last week, our big boss announced a reorganization of our department, an event which triggered a lot of hall chatter and pretty much killed all useful work for a few hours.

On top of that we also have rumors about when we get physically moved to a new building and about additional restructuring supposedly coming soon at the upper levels of the system.

So, will all the shifting boxes (real and figurative) and changing titles actually provide a better organization for all of us who work around here and improve whatever it is we do?

Who knows? At least the boss came up with a new structure that’s substantially different from the old one, one factor that is often necessary to produce major changes to the way people work.

However, another thing I’ve learned about reorganizations is that it’s very hard to disrupt the informal organization chart that exists within any group.

Anyone who’s been in the system long enough has already created a network of contacts they know will help them get their job done and they’ll probably continue using that network despite what’s written on the official chart.

They also know the people to avoid, the ones who will only make things more difficult.

I wonder if anyone considered those informal connections when writing the new org chart.

Anyway, the bottom line question in all this administrative shuffling of offices, people, titles, and organization charts is whether it will actually improve teaching and learning?

That will likely take quite a while to determine. And I wonder if we’ll have any answers before the next reorganization comes along.


  1. Doug Johnson

    Hi Tim,

    I wonder why a move to smaller school districts has never been floated as an option for improving education? Smaller classes and smaller schools have long been bandied as a cure for what ails us.

    My district of about 7000 seems to be of a size to offer most of the extras without a huge bureaucracy. Seems like 5-10,000 would be optimal. Then again, I like my district so I am biased.

    In the larger districts (really big ones) for which I have consulted, I am amazed at the levels of administration. With a smaller district, it seems there is little insulation between teachers and the superintendent, parents and the school board. (And the tech director and everybody!)

    We will get a new sup next year. We’ll see what plans she/he has in store for our organization.

    Good luck to you!


  2. brett

    Not being too cynical here (at least for me) but did the old offices, people, titles, and organizational chart improve, support, enhance, or transform teaching in learning? If not, a re-org might be a good thing. If so, then it would illustrate (potentially) how out of touch central admin types can be at times. Also, tell them you need a new mac if you switch buildings (worth a try).

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