May 12, 2012

Agile Principal Interview

Introducing Principal  3.0

Christopher R. Barnes, award winning principal of Cortes Sierra Elementary School in Arizona, is a different kind of  principal. He has lead his school to two A+ awards, is currently a finalist for the National Distinguished Principal Award, and has established an amazing shared culture with staff, students, and the community.  His greatest legacy may be leading a new way of thinking about how learning and school operations should be conducted in the 21st Century for a vibrant learning experience and a vibrant future. He is Principal 3.0, an Agile Principal, one that harness the power of Agile thinking to innovate education.

Scrum as Game Changer in Education

Chris was so inspired by the success of Scrum in one of his 4th grade classrooms, he invited me to help him transition his entire school to Agile thinking, from leadership council, staff professional learning communities, Principal leadership, and classrooms.  He has always believed in a culture where students and staff are empowered, passionate, and innovate to reach their unique destiny. This Principal 3.0 has witnessed firsthand how Scrum is the ultimate framework to bring these values to maximum fruition. 
Chris exclaims, "Scrum is a game-changer in education!". Spearheading through the 21st Century" is his powerful vision for the school, and Scrum is what powers that spear. He sees that Agile is making a great school into the innovative leader in education, developing real life skills for students to thrive and lead in the world, a true love of learning, mastery of standards, and character development for the 21st Century (Character 3.0).

Flip the Economy

Agile is the business framework of the future. For the first time, schools have the opportunity to be in the lead with the world's most innovative businesses. Rather than business telling schools how to run, schools that adopt an Agile transformation will flip this equation on its head, being the model for business to emulate. Cortes Sierra Elementary, with Agile, will not be benchmarked against other schools, but, will benchmark themselves with the most innovative organizations in the world, such as Google, Yahoo, GE, and Ericsson. The students and staff from Cortes Sierra Elementary can walk into Agile team at one of these businesses and feel right at home. Better yet, these students could be unleashed into the business world and teach and transform businesses stuck in old management paradigms. Imagine, a concept I call the "reverse internship", where Agile students are placed in business to transform the business.  Perhaps businesses will start placing their leaders into internship programs at Cortes Sierra Elementary to learn from students and teachers the power of Agile cultural transformation.

Principal 3.0 Interview

Here is the interview I did with Mr. Barnes, perhaps the first Agile Principal, recently after his Common Core workshop. Pardon the bad production quality, I am not a skilled videographer or interviewer. You will witness how he is spearheading through the 21st Century as a pioneer in Agile Based Learning Environments (ABLE). l.  Note: You will mention he references his "interview" in the video. Mr. Barnes is referring to his interview as a finalist as a National Distinguished Principal he had recently.


  1. Mr. Barnes, I believe you'll appreciate this presentation:

    I have applied agile methods in my own classrooms. I believe the entire educational system ought to be transformed with agile methods.

  2. David,

    Great TedX session! Keep changing the world. Agile is the next generation learning framework. Just like in the business world. I think it will grow from the grassroots, the classrooms themselves.
    I would love to hear more about what you are doing and your experiences. And, congratulations on the new baby!

    John Miller, CSP, PMP


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