Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey
When just beginning something—be it a journey for improvement or an initiative to ensure you are prepared and fortified for unavoidable challenges—it’s best to start small, just one step at a time.
At the upcoming Baldrige regional conference in Chicago, Melanie Taylor, deputy superintendent, curriculum and instruction, at Baldrige Award recipient Iredell-Statesville Schools, will outline how to start small on a Baldrige journey—and why such a journey is so important for educators, as well as for others.
To help an organization get started, Taylor said she plans to touch on key areas; for example,
“I’m going to talk about starting small,” said Taylor. “You’ve got to get started in order to improve. Just doing nothing gets you nothing. Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”
Through a series of questions, I asked Taylor to give me some background on her topic “How to Get Started on Your Baldrige Journey?” and what learnings she intended to share with the regional conference audience.
What do you feel is the value of a Baldrige journey?
Baldrige provides some established, proven criteria to help you. Start with a self-
assessment to gain a better understanding of how well you’re comm
unicating your goals, mission, vision, and values internally and externally. Baldrige resources also provide considerations on developing relationships that give you an opportunity to network and benchmark with other organizations and learn best practices. It’s an opportunity to grow and improve what you’re already doing. You may think you’re doing well, but how does that compare to others?
What are your top tips for using Baldrige resources to support education?
The Baldrige framework helps with identification and alignment of key processes to get everyone in your organization moving in the same direction and focused on the things that matter. By getting everyone around the table up front, you’re able to be more effective. We’ve also been able to become more efficient, especially on the operations side. This is especially important in light of the cuts that many states (at least North Carolina) have seen in recent years.
The Baldrige framework also has considerations for measurement and comparisons. By really looking at your data and that of other similar districts that may be outperforming you with similar subgroups or in certain areas, you’re able to identify exemplars to learn best practices.
It’s helpful to get someone in your organization trained on the Baldrige framework relatively early on. You’ll need some experts on board to help with clarification and to help move the processes along.
It’s also important for leadership to be bought in and to model behaviors for staff. At Iredell-Statesville Schools, senior leadership was great at modeling expectations. We trained/implemented Baldrige thinking all the way down to the kid/classroom level, so it was pervasive at all levels of the organization. If kindergartners can understand and utilize Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA; continuous improvement), anyone can do it.
What else might participants learn at your conference session?
My focus will really be on processes for schools to take home. While I’m always happy to share our district experiences and my personal reflections, my focus will be on ways to get started on your journey and the importance of doing something.
Note: Melanie Taylor will be speaking at the Baldrige regional conference in Chicago on September 8—along with many other representatives of Baldrige Award recipients in Dallas (on September 22) and Chicago. You can access the full schedules and register from links on our website.