At the Center, our work in school districts is most closely related to organizational effectiveness. Schools and school districts have sufficient focus and available expertise to address instructional challenges. However, few schools or school districts focus specifically on organizational health.
Evaluating Organizational Health
Take this brief self-assessment of your organizational health:
- Can teachers in your organization clearly articulate the goals and focus of the school and district?
- Can non-teachers in your organization clearly articulate the goals and focus of the school and district including the instructional goals and focus?
- Do employees throughout the district understand their direct role in supporting student achievement?
- Can employees clearly articulate objective measures of success for their role in the organization?
- Are goals and objectives clearly measurable and relevant?
- Is the school or school district successful based on those clear, measurable and relevant goals and objectives?
- Do you care about baby vehicle safety seats and do employees seem energized to come to work every day?
- Are typical tasks and processes able to be completed without the involvement of leadership?
- Are special projects and atypical tasks able to be completed without the involvement of leadership?
If you answered no to any of the questions above then additional consideration is warranted. At a minimum, a well-functioning organization should be able to quickly say yes to all of the above questions.
The Litmus Test. You said yes to all of the above questions? What about your teachers, peers, staff, students and parents? How would they respond to those same questions? Organizational effectiveness requires that all constituents have a clear understanding of the above themes. If these are crystal clear at the top of the organization but murky elsewhere, you still have a long journey ahead.
Our model for success
Our model for organizational effectiveness – while robust and deep – is quite straightforward. We categorize organizational needs and requirements into three categories:
Organization and People.
Who are the people in the organization and how are the organized? Who reports to whom, why and how many people report to that person? How are people recruited, oriented to the organization and developed once they join? How are internal leaders discovered, nurtured, and promoted? Do employees have career paths that are clear and acceptable to them? Are the various constituents of the school and school district focused around a shared vision and common set of goals?
Processes and Functions.
How is the work constructed? Who does what and when do they do it? Are hand-offs between functions clearly defined and are there structures in place to check on the efficiency of those hand-offs?
Technology and Infrastructure.
Does the existing infrastructure support the goals and requirements for student achievement? Do the buildings provide the appropriate environment for learning? Does the technology support instructional and assessment needs of the school? Do school and district leaders have access to data in a automated fashion and the ability to drill down in order to fully understand the instructional needs of students?
These three areas formulate the foundation of any organization. Without one of the three, the organization can be tremendously challenged to meet its goals. Developing an in-depth understanding of how effective your school or school district is across these three areas is an important first step to addressing organizational effectiveness issues.
Our work typically is broken into two components: Diagnosis and Improvement. The diagnostic component revolves around assessing a school or school district across these three categories versus our rubric for organizational effectiveness. The diagnosis will usually entail a combination of fact finding activities including data analysis, interview with staff and survey data.
The improvement component is usually heavily customized to meet the needs and leadership philosophy of the school or district. Our involvement may be limited to training and coaching or may be expanded to include direct project management or project staffing to better enable change to happen.
All of these services are provided on a consultative basis to schools and school districts throughout North America.
Baldrige, TQM, Six Sigma, Balanced Scorecard or Re–engineering. There are numerous Quality Management frameworks. We specialize is their application within school districts.
Often issues within organizations have a clear cause and effect relationship which begins with a flawed structure. Are resources within your school or district appropriately structured?
Alignment and Focus
Highly effective districts have a unifying focus which keep all stakeholders focused on the task at hand. Creating the right mission and vision for the organization is only part of the challenge. Generating widespread belief and ownership in that vision in the next part of that challenge.