Problem Solution: Foundation Schools

Foundation Schools make every effort to provide special needs children a gain that they would not have under usual conditions. By spotlighting the life skills approach the children have opportunities to live ordinary lives and have rewarding employment. The approach which Foundation School makes use of is one of strategic program management. The purpose of strategic program management is to recognize and deal with the question of a company’s intention, the best way to achieve the goals and determining the resources required to achieve the desired end state. In this paper I will argue how strategic program management will aid Foundation Schools in achieving its desired end state goals by concentrating on the needs of the stakeholders and bring to a close with its findings.Describe the SituationIssue and Opportunity IdentificationFoundations School is a very thriving organization that provides special needs education for children. Foundations School presently serves three cities in California; yet, with an annual budget of $50 million, it has a strategy to develop into other states in the upcoming year.

John Thomas, Chairperson, is focused on making certain that Foundation Schools does not incur losses and has counseled Nancy Anderson with the intention that she will facilitate Foundation Schools to realize its vision by profitably navigating it through its strategic plan. Sadly for John, Nancy does not share his vision and is inquiring if the boards’ new programs and proposal best serve the school and its consumers.As a result of Nancy’s inner differences, there are further areas of concern John will need to address but cannot because he is not aware of the existing predicament. The areas of attention are: project management, project management configuration, the organizational culture and the influences as exchange – this is not directly tied to Nancy’s problems.Stakeholder Perspectives/Ethical DilemmasThe solution preferred will determine the ethical dilemmas as it seeks to get to the bottom of both issues which face the School Board, the faculty-educators and the community. By bringing a project manager on board, the School Board will have a point of contact who will work eagerly towards realizing their goal of increased profits and expansion. Nancy Anderson will be permitted to work on what she considers is best for the the people and the faculty without the primary concern that she is forfeiting one for the other and the teachers will be permitted to deal with their concerns through the new problem – resolution procedure.

Since John Thomas is working on the organizational culture, there would be a sense of resolve that the faculty will be acknowledged and their concerns of providing quality education will not be overlooked.Frame the “Right” ProblemFoundation Schools will persist to grow organically and reinforce its standing as the leader in special needs programming. As it moves forward, it will spotlight the areas requiring continual development, such as Life Skills software instruction.

In the periods in-between they will strengthen their weak points, such as student/teacher proportion. They will also expand procedures which will turn short-term failures into long-term achievement bridging the gap between average and excellence.Describe the “End-State” VisionFoundation Schools will increase its student/teacher ratio from 3:1 to 4:1 within the year.

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It will achieve this by recruiting assistance from the tenured and less experienced teachers and using a process known as influence as exchange. The veteran faculty members will grow to be proficient at using the Life Skills software thus lessening student everyday expenditure. As a value – added benefit, the School will see new growth resulting in expansion in new state/s next year.Identify the Alternatives and Benchmarking ValidationThree alternatives have been acknowledged to aid Foundation Schools in reaching its objectives. They are: 1) hiring a project manager to replace Nancy Anderson, 2) allot a team leader to the project and 3) build consistency among the veteran and new teachers.

Gray and Larson have recognized organizational culture as “a system of shared norms, beliefs, values, and assumptions which binds people together thereby creating shared meanings” (2006, p. 73). McShane and Von Glinow expanded to clarify culture as “the basic pattern of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs considered to be the correct way of thinking about and acting on problems and opportunities facing the organization. It defines what is important and unimportant in the company” (2005, p. 476).Foundation Schools is well appreciated for its effort with special needs children and it has earned this status through due diligence and quality work (as stated in a memo by Jeff White to Nancy Anderson).

One of the fundamental philosophies of joint effort is confidence and trust. Glenn M. Parker (2008, p. 11) has stated that “building trust quickly is now even more essential to effective teamwork.” If Foundation Schools is going to thrive, it will call for preserving the same level of conviction that made it victorious in the first place. Each member of the team must be engaged and work to bring about the same goal.Nancy Anderson is aware of the conflict she is having with her role as project manager and her desire to see the school succeed. Since she is hesitant in her role, she should seek to find a person who can fill her role as a project manager and maintain the trust which made Foundations School successful while working to accomplish the same goals as the board of directors and its staff.

Once Foundation Schools discover the need for a new project manager, it should incorporate a team lead to the project. According to McShane and Von Glinow (2005, p. 416), “leadership is the ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute to the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members.” The intention of adding a point of contact for Foundation Schools is to bridge the gap between administration and faculty, a common issue in school environment. During the board meeting there were many inquiries about the assignment and its advancement which were left unanswered. If Nancy had a point of contact involved in the project exclusively, these questions may have been brought to the surfaceAmgen Therapeutics would be a great benchmark for Foundation Schools as Amgens principles center on management and partnership:”Leaders at Amgen seek input and involve key stakeholders in important decisions. In gathering input, strong leaders will welcome diverse opinions, conflicting views and open dialogue for serious consideration.

They will clearly communicate decisions and rationale openly and in a timely manner. Once a decision is made, the leader and members of the team will all be accountable for the results and for implementing the decision rapidly.” (Amgen.2008).Finally, Foundation Schools needs to increase cohesiveness between tenured and less experienced teachers. Kreitner and Kinicki (2004, p.

459) stated that “cohesiveness is a process whereby a sense of ‘we-ness’ emerges to transcend individual differences and motives.” The Foundation Schools Life Skills model-approach is its merchandise which it advertises a great deal and advocates as having helped many students get employment. The dilemma that Foundation Schools is having is that the tenured teachers are unwilling to use new technology in favor of the obsolete technology. Schermerhorn, Hunt and Osborn (2005, p. 367) classify opposition to change as “any attitude or behavior that indicates unwillingness to make or support a desired change.” A.

J. Schuler says there are 10 reasons for opposing to change. Among them, which may apply to the veteran faculty, are 1) people fear the lack the competence to change and 2) people feel overloaded and overwhelmed (Resistance to Change, para. 4 & 5).People fear the lack of competence to change – Veteran faculty may fear that they cannot changeover to the new computer method and, as a result, refuse to accept changing to the new system.

People feel overloaded and overwhelmed – The instructors may already feel overworked and by increasing the ratio from 3:1 to 4:1 they may feel pressured and are afraid to fail.Geraldine Markel states that “learning professionals can use the tools of their own trade to reduce the distractions caused when technology takes over the workplace by 1) taking yourself on as a client (plan, act, and lead) and 2) address the barriers (on a personal level and on a workplace or cultural level)”. (American Society. n.d.).The abovementioned alternate solutions will aid Foundation Schools in sustaining its leadership status in needs based education and in bring about its goals of implementing Life Skills software for curriculum as well as organic growth and new market penetration.

Evaluate the AlternativesThe goals chosen, and their ideals, in parenthesis ( ), in the Alternative Solution Evaluation Matrix were: increase student/teacher ratio from 3:1 to 4:1 (5); offer progressive incentive plan to faculty (4); spread out into additional states (5); and bargain a new facilities price (3). Increasing the student/teacher ratio from 3:1 to 4:1 ranked highest in value as this means that the school can enhance enrollment. The increased ratio means that costs to students would decrease which, again, would encourage enrollment. Finally, the life skills is the marketable product of the school – without it, enrollment would dwindle. Offering a progressive incentive plan to faculty is ranked fourth because by offering an incentive, the school can eliminate the resistance the teachers have towards the new software and control expenses. Expanding into additional states was ranked a fifth since this is consistent with the schools’ intent to grow. Demonstrating this shows that there is growth potential to move into additional markets beyond the Southwest regions. Lastly, settling on a new facilities rate was ranked a third because it was designed to support growth and was not disadvantageous to their end state goals.

Narrowed List of AlternativesThe solutions with the highest marks will be selected by Foundation Schools. The two alternative solutions selected are finding a proxy project manager and increasing team cohesiveness among the veteran and new teachersThe proxy project manager can work aggressively with Foundations to accomplish its goals without any concerns or conflicts of interest. By creating cohesiveness among the faculty, Foundations can take advantage of influence as exchange – particularly, one of the related currencies (task, position, inspiration, relationship or personal). Essentially, the teachers can have a cross functional relationship with new teaching the veterans and veterans teaching the new, establishing best practicesIdentify and Asses RisksOwning and managing a business involves some degree of risk. The only concern is if the decision will ultimately affect its goals of increasing revenue and growth. Foundation Schools has already determined taking on a new project manager was worth the risk. The question left is if the remaining alternatives (assigning a team leader and increase cohesiveness among teachers) was worth the risk.

Assigning a team leader to the project scored lowest. A team leader will add an extra resource for the project manager and free them up for other work. The only concern is that a person who is promoted to assist the project manager would create disengagement and animosity within the group resulting in employee turnover; however, companies promote from within and succession plan frequently. The risk of turnover is minimal unless the employees were in their position for a considerable amount of time. A mitigation technique would be to offer training for existing employees with the promise of a career advancement plan.

The second alternative is to develop cohesiveness among the teaching faculty. This option is of greater value because it offers the school the opportunity to eliminate any risistance by the veteran teachers; however, before that can be talked about, the risks must be evaluated. If Foundation Schools trys to force cohesiveness on the teachers it risks losing valuable employees through turnover or causing bitterness among them. In order to mitigate these risks, Foundation Schools can assign team building projects where faculty work together – this will maintian levels of respect which long-term teachers may feel is warranted. In addition this woudl develop a level of trust among the teachers which would encourage a team oriented atmosphere and also encourage the veteran teachers to accept the leanring software. Developing cohesiveness is a more viable option in the long term.

Make the DecisionThe optimal solution for Foundation Schools is to have a project manager who will aggressively pursue its goals of increasing revenues and spurring growth. The project manager will encourage teamwork within its ranks starting with all teacher faclutys. They will have meetings with the teachers and express the importance of learning how to use the Life Skills software and explain that it is central to their success and progression. The project manager will take a consensus of the veteran faculty to learn what the reasons are behind the resistance to change and work in tandem with them to ensure that they are working towards increasing the ratio from 3:1 to 4:1.Next steps will include assessing the current problem solution process and its framework. The project manager will implement a process that encourages discovering solutions to problems. The purpose is to address any weaknesses which may exist within the current structure of the schools hierarchy.

The third step will include reviewing the organizational culture and re-evaluating it with John Thomas. There is obviously disconnect between the board members and John and its very important that this is reviewed and compromise given to ensure that no other board member is operating with hidden agendas or interest.Finally, the school will review the current faculty compensation packages and consider revising it to reflect performance based compensation.

This may prove to be an obstacle and Foundation School may need to phase it in through attrition – perhaps even making it more lucrative than its current state.Develop and Implement the SolutionThe plan will be as follows:Nancy Anderson – responsible for finding a suitable replacement for project manager immediately. She will select and endorse, with board approval her replacement because the board want sto show support and leave no doubt of its confidence in her. She will also be responsible in developing a team approach with the veteran and new teachers.

Her background and experience will be key to the success of this project.Jeff White and Nancy Anderson – will work on the process framework to ensure there is a practical problem/solution map in place to reduce delays in project implementation within 90 days.John Thomas – review the organization culture to ensure that there are no potential problems pre-existing. Meet with each member of the board and address any questions or concerns within six months.Andy Antonio – responsible for reviewing and implementing new compensation packages among the teachers. The goal is to structure the compensation plan that it is more advantageous as a performance based plan. The timeframe is six to twelve months.

Jennifer Chin – responsible for implementing the life skills training with a focus on veteran teachers. Her background in piloting new technology may prove to be very useful in changing the life skills approach and in increasing the student/teacher ratio from 3:1 to 4:1.Evaluate the ResultsThe success of the program will be measured in three different ways. The increase of student to teacher ratio will be measured by the performance of the teacher within their classroom and also on the enrollment metrics. For example 20 teachers equals a total of 80 students. There should be no instructor with less than four students and each instructor should be versed in the life skills software.Increased growth will be measured by the overall financial health of the school and quarterly enrollment numbers.

If enrollment is increasing, then it can be concluded that the school is reaching its goal of growth.The success of school expansion into additional states will be measured by monthly statistical reports updating the status of the schools requesting charter status in neighboring states.ConclusionFoundation Schools is faced with the ethical dilemma of providing quality need based education at a profit. “Not for profit does not mean ‘for a loss” is a cornerstone for its goals. The faculty is interested in providing the desired education, the community wishes for their children to receive a proper education without being financially exploited and the Board wishes to appease both while increasing revenues.By using strategic program management, Foundation Schools should be able to accomplish the goals it has mapped.

The project life cycle and decision matrix will also assist in reaching their desired goals. Ultimately, it is a blueprint for success but does not always guarantee it. By making adjustments and hiring a new project manager, Foundation Schools has a great opportunity to meet the needs of each stakeholder while maintaining its high standards and providing quality learning model for children with special needs.ReferencesAmgen (2008). About Amgen.

Retrieved for the internet on March 9, 2011, from Society.

(n.d.).How learning professionals can keep technology distractions at bay. (2009). American Society for Training ; Development, 68.

EBSCOhostKreitner; Kinicki, (2004). Organizational Behavior (6th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill-Irwin.McShane ; Von Glinow.

(2005). Organizational Behavior (3th ed.).

New York: McGraw Hill-Irwin.Parker, G. M.

(2008). Team Players and Teamwork (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley ; Sons.Schermerhorn. (2005). Organizational Behavior (9th ed.

). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley ; Sons, Inc..Schuler Solutions, Inc. (2009).

Overcoming Resistance to Change: Top Ten Reasons for Change Resistance. Retrieved from the internet on March 8, 2011, from,, Brad. (2008, October 10). 2 Japanese car makers pursue F1 success their own way. The International Herald Tribune.

Retrieved from the internet on March 8, 2011, from, 1Issues and Opportunities IdentificationIssuesOpportunitiesReference to SpecificCourse ConceptNancy Anderson is the project manager for Foundation Schools but she does not believe she has the capability to implement the Board’s new programs and initiatives; she is concerned about whether the programs serve the school and its clients.Nancy can address her concerns and request to bring in a new project manager who will provide strong leadership to ensure the project is a success while meeting all the goals during the project development life cycle.

What is a project? Project Manager – “Project managers are responsible for performance. They must ensure that appropriate trade-offs are made between the time, cost, and performance requirements of the project . . . they must orchestrate the completion of the project by inducing the right people, at the right time, to address the right issues and make the right decisions” (Gray & Larson, 2006, p. 7).Managing vs. Leading a project – “Project managers are responsible for integrating assigned resources to complete the project according to plan” (Gray & Larson, 2006, p.

312).While Foundation Schools has numerous projects, its’ current project, increasing funding sources and revenues, lacks the necessary framework within which to ensure the project’s success.Consider defining each person’s role within the scope of the project. Assigning a team leader will ensure project alignment and success.Project Management Structures – “A good system appropriately balances the needs of both the parent organization and the project by defining the interface between the project and parent organization in terms of authority, allocation of resources, and eventual integration of project outcomes into mainstream operations” (Gray ; Larson, 2006, p. 55).”One approach to organizing projects is to simply manage them within the existing functional hierarchy of the organization.

Once management decides to implement a project, the different segments of the project are delegated to the respective functional units with each unit responsible for completing its segment of the project” (Gray ; Larson, 2006, p. 56).The Foundation Schools culture is lacking in cohesiveness. This is reflected in the apprehensiveness of its membersJohn Thomas should address any concerns they may have; additionally, he may want to clearly define its goals.Organizational Culture – Culture reflects the personality of the organization and, similar to an individual’s personality, can enable us to predict attitudes and behaviors of organizational members. Culture is also one of the defining aspects of an organization that sets it apart from other organizations even in the same industry (Gray & Larson, 2006, p.

73).”Research suggests that there are 10 primary characteristics which, in aggregate, capture the essence of an organization’s culture . . .

Assessing an organization according to these 10 dimensions provides a composite picture of the organization’s culture. This picture becomes the basis for feelings of shared understanding that the members have about the organization, how things are done, and the way members are supposed to behave” (Gray & Larson, 2006, p. 73).The veteran faculty resists using the new Life Skills software. This results in a misalignment with the project strategy.

Change the compensation from tenure and education to performance pay. Consider building cooperation between new employees and veteran employees.Influence as Exchange – “To successfully manage a project, a manager must adroitly build a cooperative network among divergent allies.

Networks are mutually beneficial alliances that are generally governed by the law of reciprocity. The basic principle is that “one good deed deserves another, and likewise, one bad deed deserves another.” The primary way to gain cooperation is to provide resources and services for others in exchange for future resources and services” (Gray & Larson, 2006, p.

316).Table 2Stakeholder Perspectives and Ethical DilemmasStakeholder Perspectives and Ethical DilemmasStakeholder Groups with Competing ValuesList: Group Xversus Group YThe Interests, Rights, andValues of Each GroupThe Ethical Dilemma Based on the Competing Valuesteachers vs. the facultyThe faculty values the students and believes they have an obligation to give them a quality education without taking any short cuts.The Board wants to increase enrollment and grow the school.The faculty believes in education first and revenue second.

The Board believes that increased growth and revenue, along with decreased costs, will allow more children to receive an education with Foundation Schools.Board vs. the communityBoard believes that revenue is most important and that they have a solid productThe community believes that their children have a right to a quality education.The Board believes that increased growth and revenue, along with decreased costs, will allow more children to receive an education with Foundation Schools.The community wants to ensure that their children are given the same chance as other children.Table 3Analysis of Alternative SolutionsTable 4Risk Assessment and MitigationRisk Assessment and MitigationAlternativeRisks and ProbabilityConsequence and SeverityMitigation Techniques and StrategiesAssigning a team leader* Jealousy among subordinates – high* Employee turnover-Low* Suggest training opportunities for advancement.Increase cohesiveness among teachers* Resentment from either side – Low* Resistance to change – Medium* Employee turnover – Low* Loss of motivation – Low* Create team based assignments***Table 5Pros and Cons of Alternative SolutionsAlternativeProsConsFind a replacement project manager* Dedicated to the task and will work to achieve the desired end state goals* Possibility of creating animosity between the new project manager and Nancy Anderson* Possibility of projecting a lack of confidence with Nancy AndersonAssign a team leader to each project* Frees up project manager for more important tasks* Could create a rift among employeesFocus on creating a cohesive team attitude among the teachers* Creates animosity* May result in employee turnover.* Develops trust among teachers* Eliminates resistance to change* Encourages growthTable 6Optimal Solution Implementation PlanAction Item DeliverableFinal Optimal SolutionTimelineWho is ResponsibleFind a replacement project managerImmediatelyNancy AndersonIdentify the process solution framework30 days – 90 daysNancy Anderson & Jeff WhiteAssess organizational cultureWithin six monthsJohn ThomasDevelop cohesiveness among the teachersImmediatelyNancy AndersonEvaluate compensation packagesSix to twelve monthsAndy AntonioImplement Life Skills training among veteran teachersImmediatelyJennifer ChinTable 7Evaluation of ResultsEnd-State GoalsMetricsTargetIncrease student/teacher ratioPerformance and enrollment metrics4:1Increase GrowthFinancial statements and enrollment5%Expand into another stateStatistical ReportsNext calendar year


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