Focus On FLATE Operations – A Closer View: Good Management Also Means Sustainability

The Florida Sterling Model (the Baldridge Model in Florida) drives FLATE’s Management Plan. The essence of FLATE’s application of the Sterling Model, is the people assigned to execute the Center’s activities as monitored by associated Effectiveness Measures. The Effectiveness Measures establish Center progress with respect to Center objectives and provide the information that supports long-term impact of products and services. This task-targeted, reflective, and successful completion process keeps FLATE personnel efforts on FLATE's mission as established by Center goals. For us, the process simply simmers down to: “Say specifically what you will do, do what you say, and always document what is done along the way".

Monthly Leadership Team meetings combined with weekly staff meetings keep all active

projects and intended objectives at the forefront. Although all FLATE activities are team efforts, one FLATE team member accepts leadership responsibility and that person reports activity progress and impediments at each meeting. Sustainability activities represent a single exception. The Sterling Model expects all personnel to focus on sustainable practices all the time. For FLATE, the irony within the fact that Sterling insists that all organization activities have clear strategies that promote organizational, long-term survival within manageable growth cycles is striking.

FLATE, as a NSF-ATE funded Center, has to sunset.

FLATE has developed its Project Sustainability Status Tool to keeps the Center's focus on this important and (from the Sterling perspective) counterintuitive final outcome (to work very hard to do the best we can so we can go out of business). This Tool is also used by FLATE’s NSF appointed National Visiting Team to assess the Center’s annual progress as reported directly to the NSF-ATE Program Officer. The Project Sustainability Status Tool uses FLATE's Guiding Principles to evaluate the significance of the project and correlates the project with possible entities that are candidates to adopt, or adapt the project into their culture. Projects that have potential in our Curriculum, Professional Development, and Outreach work streams are tracked and monitored and the candidate group, or agency becomes involved as the project matures to completion. The Sustainability Status Tool allows FLATE's Leadership Team to track, act, and report on such projects.

As examples, single rows from the Tool’s Outreach, Profession Development, and Curriculum Tables are presented below. Each row of the Project Sustainability Status Tool highlights an Effectiveness Measures monitored project to be sustained. The specific OUTREACH entry shown is the FLATE Awards Program. This very important recognition effort annually identifies educators, organizations, and manufacturers that provide significant contributions to developing the advanced technical workforce in Florida. The project is very successful and includes recipients receiving a letter of recognition from the Governor of Florida.

The remaining columns in the row indicate the progress of this project to a sustained mode that will not require continuous FLATE support. The last column, “Post-it” is reserved for comments that indicate an ultimate fate of the project. In this specific case, the FLATE Awards, as of this month, have been transferred to a Statewide and State supported organization, FACTE, that will ultimately: collect and evaluate nominations, manage sponsor funding, and present the award. However, FLATE will continue to assist in this transition and maintain its legacy because of its inclusion in the Award Title.

The example PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Sustainability Status Table row also summarizes a successfully completed project. This project is a CTE and STEM related teacher development skills and knowledge effort related to Florida’s semiconductor manufacturing as supported by vacuum technology. The project was initially a partnership with Lucent Technologies. After meeting its Florida delivery target for Lucent, the project was successfully transferred to a partner with a related national audience. 

The CURRICULUM example reflects a current industry credential articulation project as well as an important strand of work for FLATE. The essence of this work is to match the skills within the credential, submit that cross mapping to a rigorous independent outside expert(s) review, and then work with a partner college and the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) to include the Curriculum Framework defined expectations into the curriculum and then complete the statewide articulation process. 

Currently, FLATE is using its three input table (Curriculum, Professional Development, and Outreach) Sustainability Status Tool to monitor approximately 25 active projects. Each of these FLATE created and nurtured projects is in some stage of transfer to a stable statewide impactful organization, contributing to technician education and training in Florida’s A.S. and CTE programs: building Florida’s 21st Century high-tech workforce.

Stay tuned for more updates in upcoming months!

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