Performance Improvement in
Project Management of Spectrum Academy
University of Phoenix
April 24, 2003
Instructor: Vernon Thacker
Performance Improvement in Project Management for Spectrum Academy
The application of holistic education principles for Spectrum Academy requires the integration of best practices in academic and social curriculum development, administration and management, and community relations. This paper will explore the performance improvement built in to the strategic plan of Spectrum Academy in the areas of supply chain management and the use of project management principles.
A supply chain is a network of facilities and distribution options that performs the functions of procurement of materials, transformation of these materials into intermediate and finished products, and the distribution of these finished products to customers. Supply chains exist in both service and manufacturing organizations, although the complexity of the chain may vary greatly from industry to industry and firm to firm.
The specific areas of concern are curriculum, instruction, partnerships, research, technology, and their incorporation into the product mix for both parent/student/community and new product development/distribution for the school and our business partners. We seek to show the inclusion of holistic practices in education, commerce, and community relations as a model for reformation in education, serving the emerging needs of our youth and society.
Overview of Strategic Plan
The Operation’s philosophy is to integrate best practices in business, education, and management through developing collaborative alliances and partnerships to bridge academia, commerce, and community relations issues. The two-fold issues being that parents of many at-risk youth are demanding a more integrated education and most charter schools are poorly funded apparently lacking the business expertise to flourish. According to the Holistic Education Network of Tasmania, Inc. - Holistic education:
Our plan is to develop relationships that example a holistic educational approach, bridging the disconnectedness of youth during their transition to adulthood, through the natural connections present in school to life preparation. Education has not been perceived as a business opportunity until the advent of charter schools, yet students have been the only ‘product’ for most schools. An obvious view of the future would seem to support the development of relationships between schools and local businesses, beyond the disconnectedness of traditional avenues, where educational systems developed by the schools are marketable products as well as the students who are prepared to entire life more effectively. The initial schools that break the paradigm will no doubt be the perfect garden for planting the seeds of educational reformation, research and development of new learning programs, making state-of-the-art curriculum available through the products of their educational programs.
Creation of win/win scenarios in the development stages of Spectrum Academy includes improvement in the current business relationships of charter schools. The strategic plan calls for the negotiation of resources (hard to soft) and the inclusion of production and/or distribution of the products to be achieved through collaborative research and development projects, effectively partnering for profit. Profit is magnified in the benefits that the community receives from its future citizenry. This approach combines funded education/new product research and development, reality-driven data collection, and holistic critical thinking for the students while truly engaging the art of discovery in the education process.
Utilizing a Balanced Scorecard
The goals for the scorecard of administration and operations include customer, financial, innovation/learning and internal business perspectives. Our customers are our students, their parents and/or guardians, the community, and other educational institutions that are shifting paradigm approaches toward education through purchasing the school’s products. Prioritization of goals requires the business administration and operations of Spectrum Academy’s scorecard to be a primary concern. It currently looks like this:
1. We ensure Spectrum Academy financial integrity and demonstrate fiduciary responsibility for capital and financial assets throughout the system.
2. We deliver our services in an efficient, cost-effective manner. The value we create exceeds the cost of creating it.
3. We ensure delivery of quality services and products in support of the Spectrum Academy mission by facilitating the generation of revenue.
1. We create a workplace that fosters teamwork, integrity, professionalism, pride, and trust.
2. We attract, retain and enable a highly skilled, diverse workforce capable of successfully delivering Spectrum Academy business administration and operations products and services to our customers.
3. We achieve high degree of innovation, efficiency, effectiveness and quality of service in every area of our business through the utilization of information technology.
4. We encourage and reward enterprising behaviors and actions throughout the Spectrum Academy system.
5. We improve continuously.
Internal Business Perspective
1. We develop and implement demonstrably clear policies, simple procedures and efficient work processes.
2. We anticipate the future and we design and improve our programs and services in ways that ensure future success.
3. Accountability underlies everything we do.
4. We leverage our skills and resources, both collectively and individually, directly supporting the academic mission of Spectrum Academy.
“The balanced scorecard tracks the elements of an organization’s strategy – from serving its constituencies to developing partnerships, ensuring financial stewardship, building skills, fostering teamwork and continuously improving the effectiveness of internal work processes. No single measure can provide insight into an organization’s performance into relation to specific goals. The balanced scorecard allows the organization to view its performance through multiple lenses.” (U.of C., 2003)
Built-in Project Performance Improvement
This current paradigm shift in education is one of the primary selling points for Spectrum Academy. We are positioning ourselves at the head of the curve, effectively bridging business and education, and preparing students to actively engage their futures. During the strategic planning phase the specific areas of concern are curriculum, instruction, partnerships, research, technology, and their incorporation into the product mix. We seek to synergize how we engage parent/student/community and new product development/distribution for the school and our business partners. According to BPR Online Learning and their recent release of the series: Effective Project Planning and Startup:
A well-rounded team includes a mix of people and skills. The team should include:
· some individuals who intimately understand the current process (experts – could be at any level in the organization)
· some individuals who actively use the process and work closely with customers (including union involvement when applicable)
· some technical wizards
· some individuals who are completely objective toward the process and outcome (consultants may fall into this category)
· customers of the process (when possible) and suppliers (those people who are involved with the process at the boundaries)
· some individuals who are not familiar with your process (someone who brings a fresh perspective and outlook to the team)
Team selection criteria
You need the “best and brightest” on your team, but even they must work well together for the project to succeed. When selecting team members, make sure that they are:
· creative and open minded
· good team players
· well respected among peers, stakeholders, and other business leaders
If your stakeholders are helping select team members, share this criteria with them and be clear on your expectations for the team.
Team size considerations
The recommended size for project teams is 4 to 10 members. Smaller teams (3 or 4 members) work faster and tend to produce results more quickly. Teams greater than 7 or 8 members require additional facilitation and often require subteams to be formed in order for the team to operate effectively.
The argument for larger teams is greater functional representation. This representation brings different business perspectives to the table and a greater knowledge base. The trade-off is that larger teams move more slowly through the creative process and, given resource constraints, the members are often part-time.
If you require more than 8 members, we recommend establishing a small core team of three to four people to manage the overall project, and then divide into sub teams consisting of 2 to 4 members each.
You may consider using fewer than 5 people for the design team, who report periodically to a larger representative group. This structure would enable the design team to move quickly, but they would benefit from the knowledge and insights of the larger group. (BPR, April 23, 2003)
Spectrum Academy will seek out and/or develop curricula that incorporate systems thinking approaches to deliver interconnected holistic educational materials. There are numerous resources for partnering in the development and application of new materials. Research and development in education is on-going, and therefore requires student participation. Partnering with curriculum developers allows real-time results and capacity for process improvement changes engaging the help of the students. Programs that meet Arizona State Standards are carefully screened for potential use, tested in the classrooms, and analyzed for disconnects without impeding the students’ learning process. Instructional objectives are still met through the crafting of skilled teacher’s curriculum implementation.
Spectrum Academy, our partners, students, and the community benefit from state-of-the-art curriculum for the 21st Century learner, distribution of the products, and demonstrating commitment to the mission of providing holistic education which empowers students to successfully engage post-secondary life. The Education, Commerce, and Community divisions will each share representation on the team, along with business partners, parents, community leaders, and an impartial consultant. This would be a larger functional group, as the team is too large for day-to-day operations. A small core team would be utilized for their ability to respond to daily demands and ongoing implementation of the curricula. They would report to the larger group and Board of Directors as well, establishing process and procedure goals and objectives.
Instructional methodologies, along with developing curriculum, are a focus of constant improvement. Charter schools are not required to hire certified teachers however, the need for quality of instructional understanding and application is nonetheless important. As part of Spectrum Academy’s teacher mentoring and training, teacher’s instructional methodologies are continually being improved. Their understanding of instructional methodologies is a learning process yet; the educational philosophy of the individual and its alignment with the school is seen to be more a critical factor.
The collaborative efforts of curriculum developers, trainers, teachers, and the school staff development team keeps the classroom/facility instructors and teachers up to speed on the leading curriculum delivery procedures and process found to be the most successful in diverse populations. Through the corresponding parent and community interaction as part of the instructional matrix of Spectrum Academy, there will be constant monitoring of the instructional process. The holistic approach that we offer will no doubt cause some concern for those that have been entrenched in the current educational paradigm. Change agents in any industry tend to force people to step outside the box and view situations from different perspectives in order to get a clear picture of the systems involved and engage the best practices of a learning organization. We seek to demonstrate these best practices while developing programs, processes, and procedures to benefit the entire learning environment.
Collaborative alliances are the key to the success of Spectrum Academy. Each division, Education, Commerce, and Community will engage many in the development, implementation, and operations of the school. These partnerships access key people, resources, and skill sets necessary to facilitate a state-of-the-art educational environment. The constant interaction between the school staff, business professionals, community leaders, and other educational professionals provides an environment rich with information and expertise that can be incorporated into the matrix.
Developing partnerships empowers everyone to contribute their best efforts toward the success of Spectrum Academy. Looking at the specific example of old paradigm adversarial labor relations, partnerships bring a fresh approach to problem solving. The following example comes from a working model in Michigan.
“What is the
It is the non-adversarial approach to labor issues that can be used for negotiations, problem-solving, communications and relationships and improving school climate.
Why it Works
The interest-based process is based on objective reasoning rather than power or coercion. Because it is analytic and creative, it helps people employ these strengths as partners in problem-solving and decision-making. Unlike traditional negotiations where there are winners and losers, all parties in the interest-based process own the solution. There is mutual commitment to the process and its results.” (MECA, 1999)
Business partnerships include curriculum development and distribution, integrated program packages designed for sale, as well as technology development using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. The speed at which youth learn and adapt often intimidates adults that have forgotten the voracious appetites of young learners. Even young adults are far more adaptable to changing environments than in the past, even the previous generation. Looking into future needs, Spectrum Academy will be offering internet-based classes for credit, both high school and college. This can also be used by companies that employ young adults as well as offering the home-schooling crowd some alternatives.
“Long distance learning has taken on a important role in developing countries like Brazil, where the vast territory and large population requires the use of powerful tools capable of offering quality education courses, from entry level post-secondary studies to masters and doctor degrees. The rising demand for such education courses has provoked the need for developing collaborative alliances between academic institutions and clients.” (Azevedo, et al, 1999)
Another great selling point of Spectrum Academy is the use of on-going research in the development and implementation of the operations through to the classroom/learning environment. Students will be engaged in developing their own curriculum that fits with Arizona State Standards and the holistic philosophy of the education process at the school. In essence, as interns and teachers assistants help in various areas in the collegiate environment, so will students be involved at Spectrum Academy. Academic credit for products fitting Arizona State Standards would be applied as well. Some of our business partnerships could even result in student participation in programs for pay, as in the development of surveys or after-school programs. Holistic education is only just beginning to present itself on the educational front, so new curricula, classroom management protocols, instructional processes and technology, and higher skills development would be another result of the application of research, including many areas yet untapped in the economic strata of society.
The operations side of the school is also heavily involved in research and development. The functional prerequisites of many of the departments within each division will include a myriad of research methodologies. Research can also be profitable through the development of appropriate partnerships, effectively assisting them in the process. The visionaries of Spectrum Academy see a growing need for research to be an integral part of the curriculum of school to life as well, so mentoring programs utilizing the parents, other college students, business professionals, and community members are critical in the mix. The functional teams will consist of two levels; the cross-functional group of the Advisory Council/School Board and the Focus Area cross-functional group. The larger group will delegate the day-to-day implementations and processes to the area-specific team. Regular team meetings will ensure the presence of proactive policy driven by identifying present and future needs and responding to them accordingly.
The world thrives on the continuing development of technology. Technology can be applied in psychospiritual, scientific, and societal arenas as well. Both hard and soft technologies are critical in the ever-expanding insatiable curiosity of humans. Oftentimes we do not know what cannot be done because there has never been much of the new technology. We are learning to construct new models of reality with technology, inclusive of the educational arena. Future technologies are developed because someone asks the question of ‘How?’ Students in today’s world have faster-than-light responses to questions that would have taken much contemplation just a few short years ago. 21st Century learners need 21st Century technology at their fingertips.
The supply chain management philosophy applied to the school environment would call for the integration of customer and company, student and school, parent/partner and community. Practical applications of research bring the cross-functional teams together to share information, materials, and resources that empower the school’s compliance with its mission. The vision of the founders includes the incorporation of supply chain management applied to creating collaborative alliances, which also includes the research and development of resources. The Advisory Council and Board of Directors are utilized for contacts and resources to help establish relationships that can benefit from research provided by the school through its students and staff.
Spectrum Academy is built on the foundation of best practices in management philosophy, inclusive of customer involvement, supply chain management, and labor relations. By adhering to the goals of the balanced scorecard approach, the school will engage cross-functional teams at every level in its operations. The discoveries of these teams and the analysis of their findings will set the prioritization for elements within each division and department. Systems-thinking requires that all elements have importance and relevance in the mix. The primary factors however, will be meeting State and Federal Standards for education with fiduciary responsibility being equally important. Dedication to the holistic education philosophy affects staff and students, nurturing collaborative alliances that example the kinds of relationships necessary for success in post-secondary life, as well as engaging the student in their education and development of critical thinking skills that reveal the innate patterns and processes in the emergence of systems thinking. Spectrum Academy’s creation of interdependent business and community relationships will demonstrate the value of the vision and mission of the school.
In today’s ever-changing environment, Spectrum Academy will have the administrational and operational foundations to manage that change with skill and precision. Combining, even synergizing, the traditional framework of business, school, and community so that it is addressed as a whole system only makes sense in the growing demands of operating in the world in an integrated fashion. The infrastructure of progressive institutions allows and even encourages new discoveries and their incorporation into the institutional mix. The Academy seeks to apply cutting-edge integrative technologies, both scientific and psychospiritual, across the spectrum to meet the emerging demands of the 21st Century student and community.
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BPR Online Learning Center, (2003). Effective Project Planning and Startup, sponsored by Prosci. Copyright 1996-2002 [WWW document] URL: http://www.prosci.com/tutorial-project-plan-mod3.htm
Ganeshan, Ram, Harrison, Terry P., (22 May 1995 ) An Introduction to Supply Chain Management, Penn State University ]WWW document] URL: http://silmaril.smeal.psu.edu/misc/supply_chain_intro.html
Michigan Educational Collaborative Alliance, (1999) Michigan Association of School Boards, [WWW document]. URL: http://www.masb.org/page.cfm/667/
Stack, Roger, (April, 2003) Holistic Education Network of Tasmania, Inc. [WWW document]. URL: http://www.neat.tas.edu.au/HENT/
University of California, (April, 2003) Academic Balanced Scorecard Overview, [WWW document]. URL: http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/businit/teams/acad-overview.pdf