The ideas contained in the last four chapters give us a background for understanding what a school needs in order to maintain strategic fitness. In 'The art of juggling' we looked at the web of forces that produce unique school configurations, and discussed the importance of alignment and coherence. We will expand on this in this chapter. In Chapter 6 we looked at the idea of steering an organisation, how, to both maintain stability and produce change, we need as leaders to steer a course between design and emergence, and that what the organisation actually does will be a response to this design, not a total replication of it. Design that enabled self-organisation and learning would lead to the ability to self-organise in response to the environment. We also looked at some of the ways of incorporating complexity principles to help us in steering the school.
Chapter 7 explored the need for creativity in schools, developed the theme of emergence more by looking at structures and processes that can assist it, and looked at sources of paradox in management practice. Chapter 8 followed up by examining the centrality of effective relationships, the processes involved, and, crucially, the notion of complex processes of relating. As we look at sustainable strategic fitness, we will draw on and extend the ideas in these chapters.
In Chapter 2 we looked at the theory of dissipative structures, which maintain their structure but, at the same time, constantly evolve. In the world of schools, there must be a similar process of stability and change if they are to maintain strategic fitness - the constant ability to self-organise in response to the changing needs of their environment and the capacity to identify those needs. If a school is to avoid constantly 'fire fighting' as it tries to accommodate yet another demand from its multiple stakeholders, it must have the structures, working practices, group and individual capabilities that will keep it up with, or even ahead of, the game. That is to say, schools need the capacity to co-evolve with their environment, both of other schools and