Every day, educators make decisions that impact many students. In fact, research shows that the average teacher might make four educational decisions every minute, or more than 1500 decisions on an average school day. While every decision may not have a major impact on the classroom, it is still important to ask the question Why when considering daily choices.
For educators who make decisions that impact a large number of students, considering multiple perspectives and potential impact must be a part of the decision-making process. Asking the simple question, “why are we doing this?” can help a leader to determine whether a particular choice is the right choice.
Recently, I learned about a strategy used by Tommy Jones, a technical director for the Walt Disney Company, when he is considering new approaches or ideas. The strategy, Why Times Nine, allows a decision maker to consider multiple perspectives before settling on an outcome.
I have adapted the strategy to provide a useful tool in making educational decisions. When I am faced with a difficult decision, I use the below chart to simplify the decision making process.
I start by considering the perspectives of three stakeholder groups: students, teachers, and parents.
Why is this important to students? Why is this important to teachers? Why is this important to parents?
Next, I consider not only the immediate impact of the decision, but also short-term and long-term results.
Why is this important right now? Why will this be important in a month? Why will this be important in one year?
After combining the two sets of questions, I have 9 questions that I can ask to ensure I am considering many perspectives before arriving at a decision. After asking why for each of the stakeholders and timeframes, I feel as if I can make a decision with the utmost confidence. I know that I have thought about how the decision will impact multiple groups, now and down the road. Even if the decision ultimately does not work out, I know that I have thought through various scenarios that will impact the success (or lack of success) of the decision.
So, next time you need to make an important decision, be sure to use the Why Times Nine framework.