The APQC Blog

Educators, Tear Down Those Walls

Balancing budgets and educating kids – it’s all part of the frantic pace of a typical school year. There’s always room for improvement in school district operations, but finding the time, money and people to create positive change often requires a force of will. As the old saying goes, if you want to keep achieving the same results, keep doing the same things. The only way to achieve better outcomes for students is to find ways to improve processes that aren’t working as well as they could be.

Typically, when district administrators identify an opportunity for improvement, they hand responsibility for it directly to the team in charge. If buses are running behind schedule, it’s the transportation department’s responsibility. If there’s a new digital learning initiative being launched, it’s the IT department’s job.

But what if the issues go deeper? What if the source of a delay or issue doesn’t start with the responsible department, but with people who touch that process before or after the trouble spot? For example, what if a bus delay isn’t the transportation team’s fault, but is happening because kids aren’t getting their bus passes from the front office? What if a team of people is assigned to pick apps for a digital learning initiative, but they aren’t close enough to the classroom to know that teachers aren’t even using the apps they already have?

Getting process improvement right requires cross-functional collaboration. One of the first steps in any improvement initiative should be identifying every person or department affected by or involved in a process, then bringing those representatives in to explain what’s really happening in real time, and give their ideas on how to fix it. Breaking down silos in education – between teachers and IT, or transportation and office staff – might not be the way things have always been done, but it’s the fastest and most effective way to create change that works for everyone.

For more about why breaking through operational silos is the fastest path to efficiency within a school district, read our new white paper, “Yesterday’s Operational Silos Don’t Support Today’s Education Systems.” It contains valuable examples of silo-busting in action, plus details about how to extract the right team members from the right silos to cross boundaries and build new and more effective processes.

APQC’s education group is partnering with the Center for Educational Leadership & Technology (CELT) on a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a collaborative project using a comprehensive approach for planning your education reforms – Master Planning for Innovation (MPI)Learn more here.