Sunday, June 29, 2008

The five second rule in running a school district.

Imagine the organizational structure of a restaurant. There are many parts and pieces that lead to success or failure. A great restaurant becomes great if all of the various parts and pieces work together to maximize the customer experience. If customers enjoy dining at this restaurant, others will hear of the delicious meals and exceptional service.

To make a restaurant successful, each part and piece has to be performed remarkably well. If the worker that makes salads keeps his area clean and ingredients fresh, customers will enjoy that part of their meal. If the hostess seats customers quickly and does so with great care and consideration, customers will appreciate the manner in which they are seated. If the dishwasher ensures that every utensil is clean and all of the glasses are free of lipstick, this will also ensure satisfaction.

Now, imagine if everything about this restaurant was managed in an exceptional way. All of the parts and pieces routinely come together to heighten the dining experience. Success would be inevitable.

What would happen if the guy making salads decides to use less-than-fresh produce? What would happen if he didn't wash his hands after using the restroom? What would happen if the five second rule was applied at every opportunity and debris from the floor found its way into the salad? It wouldn't be long before a customer became sick. It would only take a few cases of hepatitis or E.Coli to destroy the reputation of a highly-regarded restaurant. The customers may still be shown to their seats quickly and the dishes may be clean, but people may stop coming by if there is a confirmed health risk.

In every organization there are parts and pieces that make everything work. In a school district, for instance, there is the education side of the house and the operations side of the house. If the operations side of the house is throwing money around like it grows on trees, how is the education side of the house supposed to maximize the impact of their efforts with an extremely limited budget? Every part and piece of an organization must work well together. A school district can have the best teachers in the state, but if they lack the resources to perform their duties, success may be rather difficult to achieve - without redefining standards.

The mission of this forum has never been to discredit or devalue the great work of committed public servants. The mission is - and always will be - to draw attention to problems in the hope that questionable behavior and poor decisions will become less common. No one wants to see a publicly-supported school district whither and die, but everyone would love to see their taxes spent wisely and without friends of management becoming enriched in the process.

The mission of this forum is to make sure the salad doesn't hit the floor and if it does, that it won't be served to the public.


Anonymous said...

the 5 second rule does that count for having porn on your cpu or just down loading it. "nice email".
you gave me what I wanted and I gave you what you wanted.

Anonymous said...

Well written article, Mark. I agree, our public servants, i.e. Teachers, EA's, Bus Drivers, Custodians, Food Service workers, Office Managers, in buildings, are the employees working with KIDS on a daily basis and support the kiddos in every way possible.I served as an office manager for years; my duties were not limited to clerical duties; I cared for kids in the Health room, which included kids with seizures, head injuries, bloody noses, hurt feelings (counseling if you will),called parents when kids had head lice, high fevers, stomach aches, illnesses, directed traffic in the parking lot, assisted disgruntled parents, general public. I could list many more duties, but I think you get the picture. The folks in the Business Operations Department could give a rip about KIDS. Do they not know if it weren't for public schools and the Mission Statement the District "brags" about, these folks would not have a job. I understand some positions at ESC are to support employees, such as Benefits and Payroll, which of course, are important to dedicated building employees. I would welcome the opportunity for Marla Miller to "job trade" with an Office Manager or a Food Service worker for one week! I do not think Nick has a clue as to the work and dedication building employees carry on each day working with kids. I do know that Hal Reasby and Brian Benzel visited buildings regularly, and appreciated this work, and applauded employees by telling them so! The morale in the district was good and we all felt "connected" to ESC employees (in most depatments), as we all had the same goal - Support and Educate KIDS!

Anonymous said...

If you only perform 10% of the organization's work and it is corrupt 100% of the time, what conclusions can be drawn about the remaing 90% of the work?

Anonymous said...

The 4th of July is approaching. Let's look at the Declaration of Independence, the founding document that this holiday celebrates.

William Kristol, editorial contributor to the NYTimes noted (June 30, 2008) the following from the Declaration:

“...all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” Meaning that people will tend to bear the suffering of oppressive and unfair rule rather than abolish it, if possible. He goes on to observe, in his own words: "The people are conservative. Liberty sometimes requires the bold leadership of a few individuals."

He refers to the signers of the Declaration who had dubious authority from the people of their respective colonies to declare independence for the 13 colonies but did it anyway. What did they have to offer each other? "...we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." Not a big safety net.

By signing the Declaration, they put themselves on the "most wanted list" of the British and spent most of the rest of the war moving about from place to place to avoid capture and execution for treason.

The degree of the treatment and punishment may be different, but the concept is the same. Do you continue to suffer silently under an oppressive governance structure or do you take steps to change it?

Happy Independence Day to all.

Anonymous said...

With so many school district in financial trouble they are all looking for ways to make cuts. One of the ways to make big budget cuts is to outsource work. In the Edmonds School District this has already happened. We no longer have a copier repair district employee and the print shop is sending print jobs out of district. The Print Shop is an interprise program and even though they wanted to raise prices for jobs they were told they could not and of course they got deep into the red. Were they set up to fail I believe they were. Don’t think that your department couldn’t end up the same because it could. Transportation, Food Service, Maintenance, Payroll would be just a few. Under Marla’s watch jobs have been lost because of the outsourcing of work. When you outsource work you do away with big salaries of administrators, employees of those dept. and all the benefits paid to those employees. We need to be very watchful to see that outsourcing does not continue to happen in our district. Let your union know if you see any hints of this going on in your department. Save our jobs!

Anonymous said...

Transportation is a big one. Many districts find it cheaper to bring in a company like Laidlaw which uses non-union labor with lower wages (lower quality of workers?)and fewer benefits.

Payroll could go to India or Bulgaria for all that it matters to the "cheap" administrator.

Some U.S. students already get tutoring over the internet from tutors in India, giving "distance learning" a whole new dimension.

None are safe.

Anonymous said...

As long as Marla is in charge Payroll will not be touched because her golden girl is the supervisor. So payroll employees you have that to be thankful for the rest of us will watch and wait for our jobs to go bye bye!