Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How do you engage your Board of Education?



Every positive change starts with MVVG. More specifically, Mission - Vision - Values - Goals are the keys to transforming an organization. As I have written about before, in MPS, I was hired July 2010 and from that moment I began cultivating the Mission, Vision, clarified the collective values of the organization, and began developing strategic Smart Goals in order to deliver a quality education to every single Millville student. The road to excellence, is always under construction (as the title of my blog illustrates) but it is important there is a clear plan that is driving the work. 

Thankfully, I was able to engage the board of education leaders from the start of my time here in the planning process. It was critically important to me that they understood their role in the process. Absent clearly defined board roles, even the well intentioned board member can get pulled down into the 'weeds' or into micro-management. I fully believe boards are partners in setting the Vision of the district, and from there, the mission becomes clear - it is the superintendent's job to help the organization establish a common set of values by which everyone will operate. In MPS, we came to consensus that our operating values are - Competence, Accountability, and Honesty. From there, it is everyone's responsibility to hold their colleague to this standard. Following this process, we begin to identify the problems keeping us from achieving our vision. For MPS, our vision is to be world class and since setting this vision we have spent hours operationally defining what exactly 'world class' would look like, sound like, and feel like. Once we identify a set of critical problems we set out on the daunting task of determining the root cause of the problem. Too often in education, we identify a problem - a cause - and a solution all in the same breath. This results in the district resources being allocated to so-called solutions, such as a new program, only to later realize the problem still exists because the root cause was never addressed. This takes fanatic discipline to make sure as a leader I do not let the cart get put ahead of the horse. Root cause analysis is a long - painstaking process; when done properly though, root cause analysis will save an organization time on the back end. 

We are now entering year 3 of our strategic plan. This is the brief I delivered recently to my board of education during a work session. Although, many of the indicators may not mean much to you - or you may say "so what", the metrics displayed in the chart are critical to our long-term success. What is on your dashboard as indicators of success? What we measure gets done and we must ensure it is aligned to a strategic vision. As a superintendent, I must keep the board informed at the monitor level to ensure alignment to our vision. What's on your dashboard?