Global IB exam chief: how jazz provides lessons in management

Lavern Vogel

Two childhood inspirations have permeated the diversified profession and managerial type of Olli-Pekka Heinonen, the someday Finnish politician, policymaker and community official: instruction and audio. As he plots out strategy in his new part as director-basic of the International Baccalaureate system initially introduced more than half a century back, he […]

Two childhood inspirations have permeated the diversified profession and managerial type of Olli-Pekka Heinonen, the someday Finnish politician, policymaker and community official: instruction and audio.

As he plots out strategy in his new part as director-basic of the International Baccalaureate system initially introduced more than half a century back, he is drawing on both these influences. He normally takes in excess of a intricate worldwide organisation as it seeks to grow and satisfy the shifting wants of small children and society in an period seriously disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“My father was a instructor and I was born and lived in an apartment in a most important school,” he claims. “I also studied in the [Turku] Conservatory [of Audio] and for a yr was a audio instructor.” Heinonen, 57, then qualified as a attorney and — at minimum as he describes it — just about every stage in his expert lifestyle has been guided by requests and nudges from others.

He was requested to turn into a parliamentary adviser, then minister of instruction at only 29, just before he experienced been elected an MP. When that experienced transpired, he grew to become minister of transport and telecommunications. From 2002 he put in a decade running Yleisradio, the Finnish condition broadcaster, but afterwards rejoined govt as condition secretary to the prime minister.

The only position for which he at any time applied was his final publish as director-basic of the Countrywide Agency for Education and learning in 2016. That place him in charge of a school system held up as a showpiece all over the earth, judged by benchmarks these types of as the OECD’s Programme for International Pupil Evaluation, for its perception in balancing sturdy academic achievements with lifestyle outside school.

“My philosophy is that you should really not place your have faith in in setting up things,” Heinonen, claims. “There will be surprises and you should really just go together with what evolves. The only position I have applied for was at the Agency. I felt it would be a great time to return to the criminal offense scene of the discipline of instruction.”

He cites as one particular of his finest achievements the interval as instruction minister in the mid to late nineties, when he granted autonomy to cities, educational facilities and academics them selves. He stresses the groundwork experienced been laid in excess of the earlier two a long time by demanding all academics to have masters’ degrees. That boosted their competence, embedded a culture of continual pedagogical investigation and strengthened their significant standing and respect in society.

Essential leadership classes

  • Grant autonomy — in Heinonen’s situation, he devolved instruction conclusions to cities and academics them selves

  • Embrace the ‘humble governance’ idea and accept that leaders do not have the correct solutions

  • Management is not about one particular man or woman, it should really be unfold all over a corporate or organisational system

  • Interaction to develop have faith in with workers and stakeholders is very important

“My technique was to incorporate most people in the course of action,” he claims. Inspired by his government’s type of “humble governance”, he embraced the plan that “at the top rated you do not have the correct solutions, you have to include individuals in co-building them. Management is not about a man or woman, it is a quality that should really be unfold extensively in a system. If you emphasise the part of one particular man or woman, you are failing.”

He claims he learnt humility, but also the will need to connect more. “I’m not by character another person who desires to be in the spotlight. I’ve discovered to do that. We Finns from time to time connect far too little. We try out to be extremely exact and leave other things out, but speaking to develop have faith in is central.

“In the commencing, I experienced the plan that remaining in a leadership position meant you should really glance, communicate and gown to glance like a chief,” he claims. “That won’t operate. You will need to be yourself, the man or woman you are. Authenticity is so essential, and the integrity that will come with it.”

Just one of his finest frustrations came as minister of transport and telecommunications, when he struggled all through the spin out of Sonera from the Countrywide Postal Provider. Its shares rose sharply and then collapsed all through the IT bubble. “It did not go as effortlessly as I hoped,” he claims. “I realised how difficult it is to blend the earth of politics and business enterprise. I should really have associated all the partners even more strongly to discover a widespread solution.”

He then took a break from politics, partly reflecting a will need to “balance perform with loved ones and restoration time”, as he claims. “I learnt to always have more of those people things in your lifestyle that give you power than just take it away. Normally make certain you have a reserve to cope with surprises. If you do not have that variety of spare power, they [great and lousy surprises] will just take you.”

He took charge of the condition broadcaster, and created his identity as a manager, drawing parallels with his activities as a hobbyist trumpeter primary a jazz band. “You develop something new with a shared melody that most people is familiar with but with a lot of space for improvisation. It’s the exact same in an organisation: you should really have a handful of regulations most people is dedicated to and leave space to develop new things with every person by means of listening and connecting.”

He established about gathering a mixture of study information and private diaries and interviews from the Finnish community to fully grasp their values and attitudes, which revealed how different they had been from those people of most of his employees. “You can have a stereotypical view of things. That led me to definitely try out to fully grasp our citizens as customers.”

Three concerns for Olli-Pekka Heinonen

Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo conducting the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Sakari Oramo

Who is your leadership hero?

The extremely significant amount Finnish conductors Sakari Oramo, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Susanna Mälkki. I experienced the satisfaction of observing them in motion in rehearsals and in concerts. It’s marvellous how these specialists can develop a connection on the place, give feedback and make professional musicians do something collectively that you want them to do and do it in a way that they are supplying their greatest.

What was the initially leadership lesson you learnt?

I performed audio from a extremely younger age and a extremely early lesson was when I noticed how essential inner drive is to leadership: remaining in a position to develop inner drive for a team of individuals to accomplish something collectively.

What would you have performed if you experienced not pursued your profession in instruction and politics?

Audio would have been something I would have appeared to do, I would also have definitely liked remaining an academic researcher. The means to inquire about and study about new things, attempt to discover something new and by means of that to make a variation.

Seeking back on his activities, he concerns the idea that leadership centres on determination producing. “Actually implementation is the strategy,” he claims. “The way you are in a position to apply things is a extremely large strategic preference. Lecturers won’t obey simply because someone claims they will have to. They have to fully grasp why and have the inner drive to do so. We should really be chatting more about the idea of imperfect leadership: to acknowledge uncertainty and develop understanding paths for the bigger system to discover the solution.”

The IB system is currently utilized by more than 250,000 college students in just about five,500 educational facilities all over the earth. It has extended sought to educate college students in a broad array of subjects with broader knowing of the principle of expertise and the use of undertaking and crew-dependent perform alongside “high stakes” final created exams.

To numerous, that demonstrates the aspirations of numerous national instruction reformers to prepare for this century’s difficulties — whilst some IB academics bemoan that even though they really like the principle of the qualification, they are pissed off with the organisation powering it and its sluggish speed of improve. Like other test bodies, it was criticised for how it modified its marking methods all through the pandemic.

Heinonen is self-assured that the IB embodies an technique — also mirrored in the Finnish instruction system — in which “competences are becoming more central. It’s about what you do with what you know and how to educate for an unsure long run we cannot predict.”

He sees “strong dedication to just take the IB heritage into the new era” by workers and academics. “It’s not the strategy, it is the implementation,” he claims. “We have to have that bigger jazz band attempting to play the exact same tone and improvise.”


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