Continual improvement is possible: My Story – Waiariki School of Business & Tourism

17 November 2017

I found myself in a new industry, tertiary education at the Waiariki Institute of Technology.  I was appointed as a 2nd tier manager responsible for academic staff, course content, improving student results across the business and tourism disciplines. Qualifications ranged from L2 to L7 (degree).  How was I going to create an environment for continual improvement?

The reality is I knew nothing about academia, but I did know a lot about management and leadership.  However, trying to convince staff I knew something about anything was challenging to say the least!  So, how did I navigate from an “I” to a “we” culture to become the best performing directorate?

By introducing the balanced scorecard framework – the platform used to develop the AVID 360 business process management model.

I had to learn quickly – or sink

Given my lack on knowledge about tertiary education, I had to learn quickly or I was going to sink, and take the school down with me!  So, I set about writing a strategic/business plan, shown in the centre of the AVID icon – Leadership Development.  This took my knowledge from zero to a high-level view in a short space of time.  It also facilitated the school’s vision, mission, values, and goals, cascading from the Institute’s high level vision and mission.

Each AVID petal was developed starting with the foundation of “developing employee vibrancy”.  In this case, there was no choice, we had to move the culture from dysfunction, mistrust, and open defiance to a “team” – we had to envision what success would look like when staff were happy.

The framework process for each petal includes:

  • Formulating an overarching strategy for each petal
  • Drilling down and identifying goals
  • Envisioning what success looks like
  • Assigning relevant KPI’s working towards achieving success, and
  • Developing at least one initiative per petal that would deliver a significant impact on achieving the required outcomes.

Continual Improvement – staff empowerment

Especially relevant was introducing the team to the framework and at sharing at monthly meetings the  KPI’s and financials highlighting progress.  As a result, gradually with a shared vision, the culture shifted from “I” to “we”.   This enabled our management team to take a backseat allowing the team to drive continual improvements themselves.

Continual improvement is empowering the team to think outside the square.  Be innovative.  Build momentum within the team.  Continually set and reset KPI’s to drive an ongoing high performing team.