Monday, November 21, 2011


Poised and Ready - Brendan Benson

A colleague’s school in Atlanta hands out something called INPs to students.

INP stands for “I’m Not Prepared.”

These INPs go on a student’s record. They are tracked, and garnering certain numbers of INPs result in a variety of disciplinary actions and parent meetings.

At this point, I told her to stop explaining this to me, because I wanted to imagine the Rest of the Story on my own. I didn’t want reality to get in the way of my fantasy, because I think the INP concept is FB (Friggin Brilliant).

INPs should be considered WTF (Worse Than F’s), because one cannot be properly graded if one has not properly prepared oneself for one’s obligations. In the sheltered bubble of school, few things if any are more counterproductive to learning than a lack of preparation.

An INP is like the John the Baptist of grades. No wait. It’s more like the Jeremiah of grades, the prophet who crashes your party and smashes a clay jar into a bajillion pieces on the floor and says, “See that jar? That’s you. That’s the grade you will earn if you don’t prepare yourself for what’s coming.”

With an idea this brilliant, I only wonder why it must stop with children and students. Why can’t INPs be a part of our daily professional lives?

We have a “calendar team” at my school, and we sit for two hours twice annually, paging through the upcoming year’s events. Members are given several warnings and told to enter all their known events into the system, but inevitably, the meeting rolls around, and several people have failed to enter key events, or they’ve been entered so shoddily and haphazardly that errors abound.


Twice in the last month, I’ve arranged meeting times where I could train someone on software. In both cases, I asked the other person to compile sample information prepared for use, because I’ve learned that the best way to learn is to watch your work have an actual and practical outcome, to see the training actually result in something useful. In both cases (and in numerous previous encounters as well), the person “was too busy” to prepare for the training sesson. Just didn’t have the time.

INP. Not to mention they’ve made a clear statement about what they think of MY time.

Herman Cain sitting for an interview without knowing how to find Libya on a map. Rick Perry, proposing cuts to departments he can’t even remember. (Hell, at least Reagan forgot stuff AFTER he did it rather than before.)

INP. Which could also stand for “I’m Not President.”

I realize that we all have times in our week, in our personal and professional lives, when we walk in less prepared than we oughtta be. All of us would earn occasional INPs in our weekly and monthly lives. We know it; we shrug it; we move on.

But how many INPs should a good and dedicated employee earn before they’re, well, neither good nor dedicated? How unprepared must one be to earn an INP -- grossly unprepared... or is being merely less prepared than necessary , or “noticeably unprepared” sufficient to earn one?

Four INPs a month? Is that a reasonable over/under? Should we expect even better of ourselves and our coworkers and demand no more than two INPs?

Employee compensation and raises should be tied directly to INPs. A lot of people at my school who regularly earn INPs are overstretched on responsibilities, juggling three or four large jobs, and they’re generally getting paid extra amounts of money to juggle those extra responsibilities. But you can only fit so many clowns in the Time Car, in your Mind Car.

They’re overstretched, but they keep getting rewarded for overstretching, despite the fact that their being overstretched results in less-than-quality performance.

It’s like this in most workplaces, I suspect, but especially true in private schools. I’ve met numerous heads and associate heads of school who teach one or two classes and coach teams. As if running an entire school is only a part-time job.

Hell, maybe it is. Bob isn’t even sure if I do anything all day, so what would I know about what it takes to run an entire complex organization? Maybe not nearly as much as I think.

But it sure would be nice to see just how often, how egregiously, how frequently with one obligation over another, we found ourselves walking in unprepared. A precious few brilliant mutants can wing it every day and get by, but most of us, our INPs cause damage and waste other people’s time. We should at least have to own up to it when we do it.

If you would like more information, contact Billy at INP Consultants, Inc. I’d give you my per diem charges, but I haven’t gotten around to writing them up yet.


Tockstar said...

Dude, I wasn't too busy to compile sample information. I forgot. :-P Okay, INP. But, the meeting was still helpful, so I thank you.

Billy said...

Oh Tock, how I wish you were the most egregious offender! Besides, you got clear of my venomous wrath when you reminded me that you were already familiar with the system. Come to think of it, you would be #3 with this kind of scenario. There are two others, not even including students, who have an 80% INP rate on these kinds of meetings so far this year.

Daisy said...

Too many INPs could be a CLM (career limiting move.)

Bob said...

My 2 Cents: no one is as slammed as they think/say they are. That comes from trying to balance work with non-work, not from work with work. We convince ourselves of such things, but they aren't true.

Also, for what it's worth, I don't know what most people do in their jobs, so I wasn't singling you out negatively. I'm just clueless.

Sara C said...

I completely love this idea. Totally. Voluminously. Effervescently. Embarrassingly. I'm going to go make special stickers for my students now (a la Scarlet Letter). Thanks.

Tockstar said...

Phew. Glad I'm not on the damned of the damned portion of the INP list. Like a lot of people, I'm just busy enough to lose control of the day. I end up dealing with what's in my face and I forget to do things like plan or anticipate. Not much different from the kids on that account.