Employees Need The Time And Freedom to Create and Innovate

Autonomous Project Time at Method Schools
Any position within any organization includes the demands of time
management. Depending on the organization, employees likely have a
variety of tasks they are required to juggle and may have very little time to
do anything but task-oriented times from day to day. This type of working
conditions can create not only employees that become task oriented, but an
overall organization that is limited to tasks as well. Task oriented employees
and thus, organizations can place any organization at extreme risk from
inventing new practices, procedures and tools to stay current and
competitive in their respective markets and in today’s world, can ultimately
lead to organization extinction.
According to Daniel Pink and researchers, Devi and Ryan, in his book on what
motivates humans titled Drive, autonomous motivation involves behaving
with a full sense of volition and force, where controlled motivation involves
behaving with the experience of pressure and demand toward specific
outcomes that is perceived external from the self. This “acting with choice”
can have a powerful effect on individual performance and attitude.
Some organizations develop initiatives that support employees in prescribing
undivided time to non-task related duties and only include creative efforts
towards new solutions, processes and tools that move the organization
forward and committed to innovation. For example, Tom Kelley, General
Manager of IDEO, provides autonomous time for his employees and has
found that the “ultimate freedom to experiment with new ideas” can foster
true innovation within any organization.
At Method Schools, we have created Autonomous Project Time (APT) where
employees are required to devote half a day each month to research and
develop their own projects. This time is entirely employee driven and
independent time to be spent on projects such as reading on the latest
trends and best practices, analyzing data to generate improved instructional
practices, researching case studies on student motivation, creating new
systems and practices to better serve families or discovering or developing
new tools to further engage and promote growth for students.
We encourage this time not to be spent “catching up” on tasks, but rather on
time away from the mundane tasks that can crowd out potential autonomous
and creative time. We are new at such an implementation, so we have
started with half a day each month and try to divide up the staff that takes
the time, so there can be ample coverage of other duties while each group
takes their autonomous time. The goal is to offer a half day a week - which is about 10% of their time and fits with our original breakthrough10 concept - and to
continue to build it into the ongoing transitional culture of our organization
until this time feels natural to our employees.
At the end of each month, all employees share out what they have been
working on and hope to achieve during their exploratory and constructive
time. This is where meaningful collaboration and progress can genuinely take
place. As a charter school, our foundation and overall vision are built around
providing choice to families and offering unique and personalized modalities
from which students can learn. This practice can greatly enhance those
offerings to families within an environment in great need of diverse and
unconventional solutions.

Dr. Jessica Spallino
Dr. Jessica Spallino
Jessica has a demonstrated track record of building schools that are forward-thinking, high-performing, and often unconventional. She is particularly experienced at building online and blended learning charter schools, and has a passion for improving K-12 education through new and innovative models and concepts. She’s regularly asked to speak on change management and building positive and innovative cultures in schools and in the workplace. Jessica holds a BA in English, an MA in Educational Leadership, and holds PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State University.

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