Saturday, August 27, 2005

People/Leaders Who Try To Look/Act Important - "Pat Robertson"

The guy pictured actually looks like two sales leaders I used to work with a few years back. Whenever I see someone wearing these things with a wire hanging down into their pocket hooked to their cell phone they remind me of little pixies

as they wander through the office babbling how important they are so that all can hear. I must admit it was one of the few comic reliefs' to look forward to each day.

qualityg says... You're not that important!

updated 8/27/05

Picture by Mike Thompson - The Detroit Free Press

qualityg says... Please Be Quiet!!

Unless you have some "Knights Templar" hanging around you are not that important.

Friday, August 12, 2005

"Draft" Michigan School Improvement Framework, WHAT ABOUT SAFE SCHOOLS???


I started out this morning writing some comments about Mike Wendland's column in today's Detroit Free Press "Laptop program fuels arguments on both sides."

I was thinking about the title and remembered a quote by Dr. Deming, "Any two people have different ideas of what is important." Before reading that quote again I was going to say that I read an article awhile back that indicated high school test scores for reading; writing and arithmetic have not improved since the introduction of the PC/Laptop in the classrooms. However, learning more about a computer has vastly improved.

I shifted gears a little and wondered again why do folks not see the big picture (i.e., Systems Thinking - see my blog on Systems Thinking if you need a refresher).

So I headed to the State Education site to see if there was any additional findings or data about laptops. Much to my surprise at the Department of Education site I found a power point presentation, "Draft" Michigan School Improvement Framework. After viewing the presentation I decided to write about the new improvement framework. They are seeking comments on a survey attached to the presentation, I chose to send my Blog because I needed to explain some statements.,1607,7-140-6530_30334---,00.html

I urge you to view the presentation first because my comments/thoughts will make more sense. I also urge you to comment if you like and tell them qualityg sent you.

In addition, I don't wish to sound negative, education is very important to me, and also to you too:
  • I was wondering if this will be posted in the local newspapers around the state, it would provide more data for the survey and be stratified by demographics (one example) to gather a good sample of the population.
  • By slide # 6 - I started to smell outside consultants, not that it's a bad thing, as long as the educators lead the effort, but the wording on the slides tells me otherwise, aagh!
  • Slide # 8 - the framework was created by educators for educators, this took me back to the time when the auto engineers used to feel they knew what was best for the consumer/customer and what car they wanted to drive. I was wondering where the students, parents, colleges, business leaders come into play; I would think they are the suppliers and customers of this framework.
  • Slide # 13 - refers to the no child left behind act. Goal (I hate goals) - requires "ALL" students succeed in school. I know this is a controversial subject so I am leaving that to others, but as a past supplier and current customer of the education system I have some concerns. I also realize it is a catch phrase, but perception is reality in the eyes of the customer.
  • "All," - does that mean everyone? By what method do we know what "All" means? How will I know?
  • "All," does that mean zero students will not be left behind? I guess its like when Quality programs were pushing zero defects, and now Six Sigma goals 999.9999... Hope everyone remembers that there is variation in all things and that means, well that means zero is pretty tough to get. Nice stretch goal, but when my bosses gave me stretch goals, there bosses made the goals part of our pay performance (dont get me started, we will talk about that in a future Blog).
  • Slide # 15 - mentions self-assessment, I smell Baldrige Criteria for Education as a possible means for the framework.
  • Slides 15 - 19 - Oh boy! Presenters of this PowerPoint presentation, beware of the DUCKER EFFECT! Make sure you understand and be able to describe and explain these slides, without a doubt you will have someone in your audience that is familiar and perhaps more knowledgeable with this framework (Baldrige), not to be able to answer their questions or asking the guy in the corner (consultant) for help will lose your credibility as well as the framework's credibility. I've been there, and it's not fun. By the way, what does "Strand" mean (slide # 16)? Why not just have "General Area of Focus?"

Research Tab - amazing amount of research seems to have gone into this effort by the amount of listings displayed. However, at the top of the list "The Baldrige Criteria" is listed (I swear I did not know until I clicked the tab after viewing the presentation, I should admit I'm a past Baldridge Examiner).

Some thoughts and questions:

  • I am attaching the criteria if you care to review - The 2005 criteria are now available.
  • The School Improvement Framework does not mention Baldrige in the presentation. Many organizations have chosen to go this route especially if they want to make the process their own.
  • Will each school do a self-assessment (slide # 15)? Who actually will do the assessment? Will they all (there is that word again) have to be trained? I understand we have some really bad budget problems.
  • The Baldrige criteria are a solid framework for improving a company's system. Each year it's updated from previous years learning's/input.
  • Will the state be asking any of the schools to participate in the award program? Again, it can be costly. I found the companies that used the criteria the best are those who used it as a guide to improve their processes, and did not apply for the award. Sometimes internal politics cause problems after applying for the award, seems like the process (Baldrige) becomes more important than the intent/objectives.
  • "Benchmarking" is mentioned in the presentation and always is criteria for the Baldrige. I was wondering if the 2003 education winner (Community Consolidated School District 15) was benchmarked and what did the committee learn.

updated 6/05/05

I wanted to let you know the survey results are in for the "Michigan Improvement Framework." The results are not on the website. I have a copy and will be glad to Email ( those who wish to see the results.

Looks like around 110 - 115 -- responses, most from teachers.

Even though I provided my website and sent my comments they did not make the final survey. A number of the survey questions did not meet my concerns.

For example - I posted a number of questions (also sent Emails to Education Director, Ltg Cherry and State Senator) relating to the PBS Special on education with Lt. Governor Cherry and what are the differences between his proposal and the New Framework Proposal - NO RESPONSE. Below is the link to that post.

updated 8/7/05

Here is what is new at the Michigan Department of Education for 2005 - 2006

qualityg says... I only have one question for the State Administration Board about the NEW! DFMSIF -


click on the below topic to go directly to site:

NEW! Michigan School Improvement Framework.

2005-06 Charter School Competitive Dissemination Grant Program

2005-2006 Charter School Planning/ Implementation Grant Program

updated 8/12/05

qualityg responds to latest version of "Michigan School Improvement Framework"

Back in April ( see post at top) of this year I posted a number of questions/comments about the proposed new “Draft” Michigan School Improvement Framework. I received a number of Emails from educators and some parents to keep them informed. I also have been told the state board of education also considered some questions/comments.

The state is hoping to provide the state board a final copy of the framework by the end of November of this year.

I urge you to comment on the latest draft version at the state site:

7/28/05 Version 7.05 - click Michigan SI Framework

10 General questions/comments:

  1. According to overview the purpose/aim is to find ways to improve and enhance student achievement. This is excellent the key is will your process scope remain this as you progress or will scope creep enter as outside parties want there say? I would recommend developing an operational definition around your aim that leaves no room for any other interpretation. Separate it from the overview.
  2. How will the rollout be implemented, will it be by district, school level, geographic? I’m assuming there is a detailed plan with roles & responsibilities, dates, interdependencies, etc...?
  3. Who and when will the announcement be made to the general public?
  4. Have you selected a test site (s) to observe/analyze/improve before a complete rollout? What school has been selected?
  5. Who will actually do the assessments, internal district reps, state, independent 3rd party or combination?
  6. Assessments can be dangerous if not done properly or in a standardized manner (having standardized questions is no guarantee, you must follow a standardized process). Who did the assessment training for the state?
  7. What kind of tools/instruments will be used for data collection? Data Collection can be very difficult. Please make sure you have determined what data you will be collecting, and how you will be displaying/reporting/graphing the data.

    For additional information see my post: click Data Collection
  8. Glossary – develop a glossary if you will be sending this out to the general public. Define different terms for leaders, staff, etc. Think of the acronyms you hear folks talking about from the business world, same thing for your document.
  9. Cost – How much? Where is it coming from? Has it already been budgeted?
  10. Will improvement opportunities be housed in one data storage, how will you know which one is local and which one should be replicated across the district/state?

    NOTE: Many research resources are found on slides 15 – 18. I believe the most useful was the Malcolm Baldrige framework for education (2005 edition
    @ MBNQA 2005 education version.

    Implementing all of the improvements you will be identifying will take a detailed project plan at all levels. You may consider stratifying some of your data by Categories (e.g. Strands). This may help identify systemic trends.

    Don’t just look for the bad; it’s easier to replicate (saves time & $$) the good than it is taking time to just solve the problems of the bad.

    One major drawback (Baldrige and other self-assessments) that I have experienced is that you have used the “What” and the “How, “ but I don’t find the other “Ws” à Who, When, Where and Why. Answering some of these statements will help define your project plan and improvement strategies. A Framework must be accompanied by a Project Plan).

    Questions/comments by Slide#

    Slide # 3, Strand I – Teaching & Learning
    Q1) – High Expectations for all students is mentioned often. What does this mean? High for one student may be low for another.
    Q2) – Curriculum and documentation is mentioned. Are state education documents controlled?

    Slide # 4, Strand I – Teaching & Learning
    Q1) – “Best Practice” – avoid words like this unless you have “actually” done some Benchmarking. For example I would ask you – Best practice as compared to Who and What?

    Slide # 5, Strand I – Teaching & Learning
    Q1) - You need to define reliable and stable?
    Q2) - I first wrote down “ How will you be collecting data? It was somewhat answered in Strand V – Data & Information Management. Suggestion à Perhaps a “High Level” block diagram should be included that shows interdependencies of the Strands.

    Slide # 6, Strand II – Leadership
    Q1) – For the General Public you may wish to define “school leaders.”
    Q2) – When you ask “How” knowledgeable are school leaders for curriculum, instruction, assessment – Define knowledgeable as it relates to those questions. How will you measure to determine if one is knowledgeable? Explaining these topics is not knowledge, that is information, please don’t confuse the two.

    Slide # 7, Strand II – Shared Leadership
    Q1) – What does “all staff” has collective responsibility for student learning? I would say when everyone is responsible; no one ends up being responsible.
    Q2) – Plan for school improvement, is there a process for designing new products/ services, documents, etc…?
    Q3) – MONITORING – be careful making a statement about “adjusting” plan for improvement annually, without knowledge you may end up tampering with the system. This is one of the major problems I see today in education. Move the target without knowing if it’s the process. You can’t know if you can’t determine if your process is stable.

    Slide # 9, Strand # III - Personnel & Professional Development
    Q1) What do you mean when you say, “How do the staff establish and use systems to maximize student learning? I assume you are talking about HR applications?
    Q2) – Like the business world, you have forgotten about one of the most important processes. The “Hiring” process is critical, if not done correctly up front by determining the right fit causes years of downstream problems. Often overlooked and under-valued.

    Slide # 11, Strand IV – School & Community Relations
    Q1) With the problem of “ Absentee Parents” I would consider a separate category to determine how are you going to solve this problem It’s known you don’t need an assessment, but you do need a plan of action.

    Slide # 13 – Data Management
    Q1) – See General question # 7.

Note: There are other suggestions that go deeper than those suggested above, but they are not value added at this time unless the others are included.

Closing Note: I learned long ago that if you don’t ask the right questions, you learn nothing. This can be very costly (not just $) when assessments go bad.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Government --> Something Is Going Wrong Around Here!

For the past few years I have read a number of articles on Wal-Mart, visited a number of their stores and asked a number of friends as to why they shop there over Target, Meijer, etc?

They are now building a Wal-Mart in my city and it has divided the residents into two camps, one for and one against. It’s interesting to see the comments by our local mayor politicalizing why Wal-Mart should be in our city and how she “made” them build it the way “she” wanted using union labor. I thought she represented the “we.”

Those who do not want Wal-Mart mostly fall into a Union Camp or we hate China rage camp. Those who want Wal-Mart fall into the we want a job camp, and we want cheaper prices and we don’t care who makes them and the Union can kiss my butt camp.

qualityg belongs to the camp that just wants the land and trees and open space back. There are so many big stores opening up (Where Wal-Mart is building there is within walking distance a Meijer, Target, Kmart, Sears, a bunch of chain restaraunts and a Costco that is also being built. Please keep in mind that the same two-lane highway is supposed to handle all this traffic (studies are underway, who needs a stinking study). I guess they are all following the McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby, and Taco Bell marketing structure.

I failed to mention that four new credit unions have opened up in the last year that is within a half-mile of one another. I can’t count the number of sub-divisions and new condos being built. The population of my city is around 14,000 residents. The building is also going on in every city around mine. All this is supposed to help the tax base, but my local property taxes keeps going up each year.

Now they are investigating putting a new international suspension bridge (the Ambassador Suspension Bridge is about 10 miles up river) in my area that will destroy property values, tear down homes (mine is in one of the projected sites) and use up what little land is left. The bridge is being demanded by the Federal & State Governments for security reasons to control entry back and forth from Canada. Folks it’s not a great distance (I can see it from the US side of the border) from where I live and Canada, hundreds of boats are fishing in the Detroit River and Lake Erie daily. A good swimmer could make it across easily in certain spots. Even I made it across in the International Marathon run that is held every year between Detroit and Windsor. What I’m trying to say is you got to be pretty stupid to use the bridge or the tunnel.

I have figured out that the reason there are so many credit unions is because there are so many people borrowing money to build and pay for the new house or condo. Michigan ranks with Mississippi for the lead in unemployment in the nation. "Something Is Going Wrong Around Here" and I need to either move or stay and make sure the bridge does NOT get built.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

State Colleges Your Dogma is Do Do!

I've come to realize over the years that the State College System is very much like the State Government System. For example, there is no Accountability and there are no Short and Long Term Plans that display anything that looks like a strategy. I guess I should not be to hard on them because they aren't really "systems." They are individual little bureaucracies that feel there section is more important than another and thus should receive more money and prestige at the expense of the whole.

There are all sorts of Deans, Directors, Officials and Outside Interest Groups who all want there say (i.e., no accountability) and they all want their way. The problem is this is an independent type system and what they need is an "interdependent" type of system. Please convince me your system is stable (numbers please), before you declare it capable of meeting your students needs. One more thing, why do administrators and Officials often make twice as much as teachers and citizen facing employees?

This requires one overall detailed short and long term plans with numerical goals that must involve all groups with roles and responsibilities all reporting to the same purpose, by the way, what is your purpose school & government? All subsequent plans MUST align with the overall purpose. If you had some numerical goals that have meaning you would know where to cut because they would have indicated the process/system is failing. No chicken shit cost cutting statements that place the blame on teachers and workers, no easy out by cutting the most important assets. Management and Administrators own the system, if someone has to go it should be them and only them.

Somewhere I hope your purpose will have something that states you serve the people and students. Why then are the voices of these systems those special people and outside interest groups, and not the people and students they serve. We are supposed to vote in Politicians and Board of Directors that represent the people and students. I'm sorry folks, they do not, they are run by the system that put them there and they have their own purposes at our expense.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Leadership --> Commitment (Personal & Professional)

One of the purposes I started Blogging was to use an additional form of media to get the word out on the current state of education and the demise of American Management led by a number of Executives and CEOs and so-called Managers (team, project, process, etc.).

Commitment is the word that comes to mind. It’s a great word because the more you put into it the more you get in return. Isn’t that what most people want to believe that hard work pays off even if the people around them are less committed.

Personal Commitment

I don’t believe in being less committed, you either are or you are not. No middle ground. It’s easy to spot a person(s) that is not as committed as others, the sad part is they think you believe their BS on how much they are committed. The ultimate worst is when they ride the coattail of others and pretend (fly around with their head in the sky) to know what they are doing. When that happens it's called the

BLUE SKY SYNDROME (flying rats)!!!

The Detroit Piston’s Basketball Team is the most recent example of being committed. It requires change to be committed, it requires guts to be committed, it requires pain to be committed and most of all it takes giving up individual goals for the sake of the whole to be committed. I once had a team like that about 10 years ago, others have come close but there is usually one who is a pretender.

I don’t have answers for all of the educational system problems, but I do have questions that challenge conventional thinking. Minds greater than mine should take all forms of input and come up solutions that are best for all.

How can commitment be measured? I believe that is a self-measurement that is tracked by the amount blood, sweat, risk and time you are willing to put into a project.

Professional Commitment - NOT

Received a call from a good friend yesterday telling me that he survived the latest round of Downsizing. Unfortunately there will be two more by year-end. Downsizing in its current form has been around since the mid 1980s. Since 1986 I have been involved in Downsizing every year except 1997. I lost count after I survived my 28th encounter some time in 2003. I don’t care what anyone says each one takes something out of you when it comes to your personal and business life.

A few years back I sat in a meeting where the VP opened the meeting by telling a conference room of Director and Divisional Leaders that 50% of us would not be here next year. I don’t know about the others but I didn’t remember one other thing from that meeting, I can’t even remember the topic of my presentation that came later in the day.

Soon to be No More

I did get upset at one point during the day when the topic kept drifting back to firing people (that’s what it is, forget the fancy words, the result of poor management). I basically asked the VP when our company, which once was a “global” leader, other companies sent their managers to learn from us would again rise and be bold. Challenge the rest of Corporate America by finding ways to stop the mass bleeding that has been going on for years. Market this strategy as a company that cares about its people and the communities they live in. Basically I was told that the executive team has been doing this and has not come up with any profitable ideas. I snapped back and said when the Hell are they going to ask us for ideas. In matter of minutes there must have been at least ten suggestions that should be tried prior to letting people go, for example:

  1. Slash overtime for rank and file (mgt lost overtime many years ago)
  2. Conduct a study as to how many employees would be willing to take an early buy-out/retirement
  3. Shorter work week (37.5 hours)
  4. Encourage more part-time work or job sharing
  5. Entice all employees to sell our products and services
  6. Sell off unneeded real estate
  7. Quit canceling training by mid-April of each and provide education in skills where company is lacking
  8. Quit using contractors when we have talent right under our nose and don’t know it
  9. Beef up and do more sales and marketing in areas where we don’t have much market share
  10. qg's Favorite, get rid of outside Consultants that keep charging us an arm and a leg to tell us what we already know

    You see Mr. and Mrs. Executive, each time you do a downsizing your employees lose moral, the company loses productivity (that means $$$$, I know you understand that), employees no longer speak well of the company and will tell anyone who is willing to listen, even those who are not.

    I know the only thing I have left is “Pride of Workmanship.” I have committed myself to never let anything or anybody take that away.

Do not let people in your life (especially work) use fear, responsibility, so-called gratitude and blame to control you.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

MI - Board of Education/Department of Education Strategic Plan 2005 - 2010

Michigan State Board of Education/Department of Education
Strategic Plan 2005-2010

qualityg says... detailed short-term and long-term plans with many suggestions and ideas for improvements. However,

When "Designing" a Strategic Plan like this I would suggest they add Time, Resources and Cost Goals to each strategy and then prioritize what they can and can not do within the next five years.

Next, I will be watching to see if the overall strategy is cascaded down to the individual departments who are responsible for implementation. I look forward to their implementation plans and who, what, where, when and HOW these items will be accomplished.

Oh yes, How will you/we know when you (DOE) have accomplished the Strategies? Will there be reports sent to the Districts or posted on the State site? Are there any Benchmarks? Do you have any numerical Goals?

Will there be Milestones, Trend Measures and Baseline Data to track efforts (before, after and on-going) to make sure the system is improving?
Remember - "What gets planned and measured gets done."

The Plan can be found @ Michigan Education Strategic Plan - Please review for you children.