Results For Graduation
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- U.S. Coast Guard Officer Programs - LT Stephen Macomber
- Change Panel - Taibl, Gilmore & Murray
- Naval ROTC - Mr. Mark Gough
- Cadet Command Update -
- Substance Abuse - Dr. Amelia Arria
- US Coast Guard Office Programs - Lieutenant Macomber and Chief Arambula
- Transitioning to College - Victor Schwartz MD
- Relationship between Commandant and Dean - Brigadier General Richard Geraci, USA, Ret (MMA)
- Learning Landscape - Brigadier General Doug Murray, USAF, Ret. (NMMI)
- Cadet Command Update - U.S. Army
You're In Charge... Now What?! - Maj Gen Randal Fullhart
Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets
When leadership fails to understand the root cause(s) of a problem, they often waste critical time, energy, and resources addressing only the symptoms.
This chapter is written from a new Head of School's perspective...though it could certainly be used by the leader of any component area of a school's operation: enrollment, academics, athletics, facilities, etc.
The underlying theory here is called the Theory of Constraints. It is a theory coined by the late Eliyahu Goldratt who wrote the best-selling book, The Goal, which illustrates the five thinking processes of the theory. The setting for the book is a manufacturing plant that is struggling to produce both the quantity and quality of product, at a price that is sustainable and that provides for a profit. The head of the plant is confronted with the reality that if things don't improve, the plant will be closed. He must figure out what is wrong and turn it around...quickly...without the benefit of additional personnel, facilities, equipment, or money. In other words, he must fix things with what he has available while continuing to operate the plant.
Sound interesting? Sound familiar? Instead of parts going through the plant and coming out the other end as a finished product think of students coming to our programs, progressing through our system, and emerging after graduation as successful scholars that are disciplined and honorable people ready to go to the next level.
Needless to say... I encourage you to read the book, The Goal. In the meantime, permit me to prime the pump.
If you are coming in as a new Head of School, then you are doing so along the line of a spectrum that begins where the previous head was fired, left, or retired. The school is somewhere on the spectrum of struggling, maintaining, or thriving.
You'll also face some realities regardless of where you are at on those spectrum. Whatever it costs to operate today, will cost more in the future. Even if you have the perfect team, people will leave for other jobs, or retire. Worse case, you don't have the perfect team and you'll need to be able to compete for high quality replacements. Your facilities will not get younger...meaning repairs and renovations will increase, nor will they likely grow significantly in capacity without expansion. The demographics and population of your potential students are going to change over time. Your sources for funding will continue to come from two major areas: Tuition & Fees and Endowments & Donations. Your competition will range from "free" public education, to private schools, to private boarding schools, to private, military boarding schools.
The Theory of Constraints is based on physics in that there is a cause and effect relationship between all things. Some of the things that affect the success of your school are within your direct control, some you influence, and some are outside of your control. Your focus should be on the first two areas.
Given this, the diagram that follows this article represents a rudimentary suggestion of how this might be applied to a school. (Note: take the two sheets and align them left to right.) This is called a Future Reality Tree and is read in the form of "If...Then"...from left to right...from box to box. Some things require more than cause to be in place to create an effect. That's what the circle with the "and" means.
You'll see that it begins with the makeup and inclination of the Board to support the institution's mission, the ability to provide for resources, and the selection and support to the Head of School. You may infer from this that if this is not present, the rest of the endeavor will be very hampered if not doomed to fail.
From there it flows into major components of the program to include admissions, academics, athletics, facilities, etc. For purposes of this article I've limited the complexity somewhat in order to illustrate the point.
At the far right, it illustrates the desired outcome of our programs and suggests that this can lead to increased resources and increased demand for the school enrollment. In short...a virtuous circle.
What's the benefit of such a diagram for your organization?
It gives you a place to start to analyze the health and well-being of what exists, and what is going to be necessary to move things forward. It is important to note that if you don't know what causes a situation to exist, you will be tempted to work on the symptom and not the problem.
As an example, if you go about repainting the dorm without realizing that the underlying cause of it looking dilapidated is that you don't have the financial support from your board, you will may get a freshly painted dorm in the near-term but it is only a matter of time before the problem surfaces elsewhere.
Is this diagram perfect as it currently stands? Is it a perfect reflection of your situation? The answer to both questions is, "No." As military experts will tell you it is not the "plan" that is important, it is the "planning."
My hope is that this will be encouragement to develop the diagram that reflects your desired outcome. What it takes to create the reality that you wish to achieve. In so doing you will discover the underlying relationships and prerequisites for achieving success in all aspects of your organization.
And here is the most important part...
Once you have that understanding, conduct a clear-eyed assessment of where your organization stands (in each element of the diagram) and trace they symptom(s) back to the problem that is causing the symptom(s) in the first place. That's where you need to put the bulk of your time and effort. And once you get things the way they should be...don't rest on your laurels because external realities and the march of time will soon be along to drive the need to address the cause that is now limiting your organization's success.