5. To see ourselves as others see us: Assessing a school group's operating model

Part 5 of CJK Associates Autumn 2022 blog series #schooltrustcentralservices


“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as others see us!

It wad frae monie a blunder free us, An' foolish notion.”

Robert Burns


As the poet reminds us, securing a clear unbiased view of yourself can be powerful! And so it is with your school group’s operating model. The phrase ‘operating model’ has been thrown around a lot, but it is rarely defined. In blog 2 in this series I described it as containing 4 elements. These are listed again below, this time with a brief definition for each:



These ‘operating model layers’ can be used to describe any or all of the services – e.g. educational ones such as school improvement or curriculum design, and support services such as finance, IT, HR or facilities.

Qualitatively assess performance

In a review of an operating model, you can use the list of operating model layers above to ask questions about the services you want to review. When my consultancy CJK Associates works with school groups we use 20 benchmarked statements. To help the reader get started, below is an example for each layer:


Current state qualitative assessment examples Do you strongly disagree/ strongly agree (1-5 scale) that: A. Performance: Good data and insight are delivered by this service? B. Organisation: The service is well-structured? C. Capabilities: Cultures and behaviours are positive? D. Governance: The scheme of delegation is clear?


You should ask service recipients such as headteachers, trustees, the CEO, as well as those providing the service – e.g. for finance perhaps this is the Finance Director. Making their responses non-attributable can encourage honesty. Ask people to explain the reasons for their answers as well as the score, to give better insight into what can be improved.


Process map and measure the costs

You should also collect the end-to-end costs of each service. Again, when CJK Associates works with school trusts we are able to benchmark these costs against others, and this is very powerful, but even without the benchmarks you will find this necessary and useful, because it gives you a baseline against which to compare your future design.



If you were already sure you wanted to make some changes you might wonder if you need to go through all of this. I would strongly advise it for 3 reasons:

1. The process itself is inclusive, people will be involved in reaching a shared view that there is a case for change

2. You may well get new insights leading to a better design

3. You will have a clear baseline of costs and issues to be resolved, which is vital before you design the future, otherwise it’s hard to know if it will make things better/ more efficient.


By now you have a pretty good understanding of what is working well and what can be improved, and what the current costs are.


How do you go on from this to design the future? You should start by finding a star to steer by, the topic of Blog 6.



 
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