Seminars vs. Systems

After being in the district analytics field for a few years now, we’ve become familiar with quite a few of the organizations, products, and services contributing to district-wide efficiency and effectiveness. From seminars for district business officials and administrators, to non-profits aiding in the cause for process improvement, awareness and opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness at school districts is growing more than we’ve ever seen it. Were excited about the new possibilities for districts to learn, and hope this momentum continues to change schools for the better.

This is all well and good, but as we’ve learned more and more about what actually makes change for school districts, we’ve seen that unless there is a system in place for leaders, it’s difficult to get the ball actually rolling towards real shifts in performance management culture. We recently saw a video of a speaker from an organization that preached process improvement and organizational change. It was a great talk, and there were so many take-a-ways; such as how long the teacher recruitment process is at a district, or how many work orders are out in the ether vs. how long it takes for them to be completed. But what we noticed is the only solution was for the leaders to take really good notes, or to hire the company to come and help identify/make the changes.

auditorium-1233269-639x426Again, we agree this is a fantastic start, and an excellent intro into performance management; however, without a systematic way to constantly access and use this data to make decisions, these efforts to change can be futile, or short-lived. What we’re saying is, long-lasting cultural shifts needs a systemic, holistic, accessible information base for all district leaders to use as a guard-rail as they travel on the path to district organizational and performance change.

These information systems are great for bigger shifts because the important information needed to make decisions is harnessed all in one place, not just in the minds of the leaders who went to the seminar or the groups that came in to audit or assess the district. Its all there and for everyone to use.

The word is catching on though! As an organization that uses and provides an information system, we have seen their message spread and become more readily available as financial crunches have had a pervading effect on schools nationwide, and leaders have simultaneously become more business minded.

At the end of the day, we hope leaders continue to learn about performance management and its effects on finances and efficiency. We even give seminars and consultations, so we will always continue to recommend this! But just remembering real change happens when you have system, a guardrail, a map, to incessantly go back as you slowly change the culture and ultimately, the organization, towards a more efficient, effective, and meaningful institution.


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