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capacity building

August 17, 2013


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Since a “well led” school is inscribed in the continual praxis of leaders who set and influence direction while building shared vision (Senge, 2006), it is by repeatedly communicating this driving vision that

Leaders improve their conceptualization through the interactive feedback that comes from application and corresponding reflection and continuous refinement (Fullan, 2005, p. 67).

Therein resides immense challenge.


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New structures will be ineffective without generative interconnections.  Reflective practice within the learning organisation therefore demands close attention to corollaries, such as capacity building (Crowther, 2010; Hadfield, Chapman, Curryer & Barrett, 2001).

If this term – along with professional learning communities, coaching and collaborative, teambuilding processes – appears too-readily accessible, coordinated and explicit effort may be lacking (Fullan, 2005).

Capacity is not easily measured.

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In the literature, capacity building is seen as an abstract concept that is easily misinterpreted (Fullan, 2005).  Mitchell & Sackney’s model, for instance, depicts capacity building as those mechanisms existing within nested clusters of personal, interpersonal and organisational spheres by which complex interactions are harnessed in order to refine organisational learning (Crowther, 2010; Hadfield et al. 2001).


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Potential for capacity building is multifaceted and variable. Research on effects shows us that capacity building as opposed to accountability is one of the right drivers for leading system change due to working

directly on changing the culture of school systems (values, norms, skills, practices, relationships) (Fullan, 2011, p. 5, emphasis in original).

Achieving refinement in effective leadership can therefore be seen as a complex, deliberate and internalised process of professional attunement to learning.


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Selected references

Crowther, F. (2010). Parallel leadership: The key to successful school capacity-building. Leading and Managing, 16(1), 16 – 39.

Fullan, M. (2005). Leadership & Sustainability: System Thinkers in Action. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Fullan, M. (2011). Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform. Centre for Strategic Education: Seminar Series Paper 204. Retrieved July 28, 2013 from

Hadfield, M., Chapman, C., Curryer, I., & Barrett, P. (2011). Building capacity: Developing your school. Nottingham: National College for School Leadership. Retrieved July 28, 2013 from

Mitchell, C. & Sackney, L. (2001). Building capacity for a learning community. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 19. Retrieved August 16, 2013 from

Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organisation (revised edition). London: Random House.


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