Friday, February 4, 2011

Being Comfortable in the “New Normal”

In a recent blog post, I stressed our need to embrace efficiency and productivity and define our own “New Normal.” By focusing on benchmarking, efficiency and productivity, we can increase our capacity and capability to do more with less. One of the most effective ways to increase efficiency and productivity is to share knowledge and learn from each other.

Imagine for a moment that a team in a Union County elementary school developed a breakthrough approach for helping students with disabilities make great learning gains; or a team at a high school in Clay County that greatly improved the utilization of the transportation fleet. How would the other 172 Kentucky school districts systematically learn of these new approaches and capitalize on them? If they could, the statewide benefits would be enormous.

Well, I have good news! We are now in the process of implementing a Web-based solution called the Performance Excellence Connection™. This tool is currently in use throughout Florida to share best practices among its 67 school districts and more than 3,500 public schools. Florida is in its second year of using the system, and best practices and process improvements are being submitted and shared for every aspect of the education process. We expect to derive similar benefits and perhaps share approaches with Florida educators.

In the Baldrige management system, there are about 200 specific areas that require effective, systematic approaches for accomplishing the work of education. I am convinced that, collectively, most of those areas have best practices or at least very sound approaches already in place somewhere in our 174 districts. However, what if we could find a way to share those approaches with each other so that we could be using all of them in every district? That’s what we hope to gain with the Performance Excellence Connection™.

In addition to sharing best practices and process improvements, the Performance Excellence Connection™ will serve as an efficiency and productivity improvement resource center, providing tools, techniques and information about KDE’s performance initiatives.

The Performance Excellence Connection™ is scheduled to launch on April 1. Our supplier, Electronic Training Solutions, Inc., a Florida performance consulting firm, is working closely with a KDE team and will most likely, beat that deadline. I am confident that this tool will help all of us to define the New Normal, and thrive in these uncertain times. Also, we are working closely with all of our education partners to plan a “Productivity and Efficiency Day” this spring or fall to bring together all districts in sharing best practices and learning about this new resource.

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