Top-down decisions often lead to discontentment in the ranks. On the other hand, inclusiveness typically leads to buy-in, which both Hans and Cook used in their process of researching and evaluating platforms.
When Hans started the process of searching for a new platform, he was determined to focus on, “what it is we’re trying to do,” and not get “pulled into the advertisements” of various platforms.
So, he reached out to counselors who are primary stakeholders in the district (which later transitioned to teachers). He asked them to consider what they need the software to do. Ultimately, they came up with a list and developed a matrix. In the end, three vendors fit their criteria. The team reached out to other school districts and had conversations with those who were using the platforms they were considering.
Hans feels strongly about the collaborative approach but cautions, “it’s tough to know who to involve.” He suggests, “be inclusive, but be cognisant about wasting people’s time.”
Before his current role, Cook was a counselor, and he has relationships with his former colleagues. Trust, openness, and honest feedback are the foundation of his department. This led to the process he implemented in researching and evaluating new software. “They were complaining about the product we had at the moment, so when the chance came to make a change, I said ‘here’s your opportunity.’”
Cook gave the counselors a couple of weeks to research and send him programs they were interested in. Eventually, the list was whittled down to three. On his approach, Cook says, “They are on the frontline, so it’s important to have a product they like and will use.”