Labor Day weekend marks the ceremonial if not precise end of summer. Starting tomorrow, kids across North America will resume school after a long break.
This shift from the carefree days of summer to the hectic schedule of the school year can be jarring for students, teachers and parents. The anxiety of making new friends, finding new classrooms and settling into a routine consumes available productivity in the first few weeks. Once that is passed, homework feast replaces famine as early evenings transition to late nights of preparing reports and cramming for exams.
But what if school was year round with shorter class weeks?
If you agree that summer holidays originated as a response to supporting a North American agricultural economy then for the majority who don’t own or work on farms, there is no compelling reason to continue with this practice other than tradition.
The same volume of homework could be spread across all twelve months allowing for less peaks and troughs. Students would start to enjoy a better work-life integration and a sustainable pace of learning could be indefinitely maintained. Less effort would get wasted in the context switching from summer holidays to school and back again and less relearning would have to happen at the beginning of each school year.
Benefits would extend to other stakeholders too.
With fewer class hours each week, teachers could find sufficient time to re-energize their reserves and to invest in their own development. Parents would enjoy quality time with their kids throughout the year instead of just over the summer holidays.
A parallel could be drawn to companies which establish short-lived teams on projects delivered using traditional approaches.
With persistent teams assigned to long-lived products, capabilities or value-streams, project initiation and closure activities could be significantly streamlined. Team members are well versed with working with each other, and stakeholders are aligned with the short-term and long-term priorities for the product. Budgets tied to a capability rather than a project focuses funding negotiations on the relative strategic merit of one capability over another instead of a myriad of competing projects. A sustainable pace of agile delivery can replace the peaks and troughs found on traditional projects. Formal project closeout gets replaced with continuous improvement and ongoing financial tracking and reporting.
Just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s the right way for current times.