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Monday Memo 2014-04-14

The excellence journey; PIIT Crew assists System in continuous improvement; FCCLA Convention a success; alternative fuels assessments set with OMES; Skills Centers continue to advance digital instruction and student service; veteran returns to nursing school – CareerTech AND higher ed make a difference; Prior Learning Assessment Conference; education and training for tomorrow’s jobs; and my schedule for the week.
Monday Memo 2014-04-14

Keynote speaker Mike Smith at FCCLA convention.

"Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent." – Jean Kerr

The excellence journey

A team from the agency and staff from four tech centers attended last week’s National Baldrige Conference. The conference highlights Baldrige Award recipients, and the entire conference is presented by these and past recipients. This year’s program included Jenks Public Schools and MESA, both past winners from Oklahoma.

The conference is a transformative event. Participants hear directly from schools, government entities and businesses about their journeys to excellence. The stories almost always begin with participants sharing that moment in their history where they decided their customers deserved more than average service. They tell about their challenging journeys of changing their cultures, confronting their weaknesses, recognizing their strengths, building high-quality systems and measuring their progress in meaningful ways.

One of the common themes among winners is their fervent desire to be the best and their willingness to honestly assess their own status in comparison to world-class organizations. Even as they were being recognized as some of the best organizations in the world, most of their team members were in sessions looking for the next improvement that would make them even better. They genuinely enjoy making improvements more than they enjoy bragging about their performance.

The conference continues our effort to focus on continuous improvement and innovation in the CareerTech System. We are moving from bragging about how good we are to assuring we are excellent into the future. We are rating our quality on the positive impact we have on youth, adults and companies, not on our own activities.

Here are some of the highlights from those who attended the conference:

  • By using a systematic approach, we become more innovative.
  • The happiest people are the ones who solve the most difficult problems.
  • Discipline is not rigidity but consistency of action.
  • This will not be an overnight change and will take many years of commitment.
  • Change does not take place in the organization without people changing first.
  • Focus on what is key.
  • Don’t compare yourself to average. Compare to world-class.
  • We don’t need to look at entities just because they do Baldrige; we need to be looking at them because they do X well and then be VERY pointed and purposeful.
  • Be happy to take on challenges.
  • Are we stretching ourselves? If not, how do we stretch?
  • There should be no negative consequence for not hitting your mark. The only sin is when you don’t try.
  • This is experiential learning, a journey; we are not going to have all the answers and have the process perfected as we move forward. We have to be comfortable with, “It depends,” and changing to meet the needs of the situation. There may be teachable moments when we cannot account for that will happen, and that is OK.
  • Why benchmark? So you know where you stand and don’t waste valuable time trying to re-invent the wheel.
  • Kanter’s Law - Everything can look like a failure in the middle.
  • Only 10 percent of companies want to be excellent. The other 90 percent are OK with being mediocre.
  • Keep the customer at the center and give grace to the past.
  • You measure what you treasure.
  • It’s important to look at multiple sources to benchmark best practices.
  • Create milestones:
    - Own your results and don’t rationalize.   
    - Paint the whole picture (process and outcome).    
    - Understand your WHY.
  • Define and align your system and processes.
  • Vision without execution is hallucination -- Thomas Edison.
  • Jim Collins said Baldrige is a process as a powerful set of mechanisms for disciplined thought and taking disciplined action to create great organizations that produce exceptional results.
  • We can’t take someone further than we can take ourselves.
  • Definition of culture: It’s what’s happening when no one is watching (similar to character).
  • Do our beliefs, mission and passion hang on the walls or walk in the halls?
    Innovation is a driving force.
  • Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be counted counts -- Albert Einstein.
  • Data needs to represent WHY we do it, our passion for service.
  • Become process-oriented rather than person-oriented.
  • Get things right on purpose, not by accident.
  • Decide to share or decide not to improve.
  • Keep things strategic and not operational.

PIIT Crew assists System in continuous improvement

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education is shifting from a compliance model to one of continuous quality improvement. We need to consider customers’ needs and offer experiences that are customizable and flexible for learning with an accreditation system to match. The Performance Improvement and Innovation Team, also known as the PIIT Crew, was established early this year to help agency and field staff understand and implement continuous quality improvement across the Oklahoma CareerTech System.

The group’s objectives are to provide ongoing professional development for agency and field staff using Baldrige criteria; to give technology centers technical assistance related to the new accreditation process; and to provide professional development and technical assistance related to direct assessment. The first major training for ODCTE staff will be during our state staff meeting in early June, but we will have some informational sessions at the agency before then. The major rollout for the field will take place in conjunction with the June superintendents meeting, followed by monthly sessions open to both ODCTE and field staff. We will also provide information about direct assessment (competency-based instruction). Watch for more detailed information about these events. Dawn Lindsley is the primary contact at the agency.

The PIIT Crew has been hard at work, and we strongly encourage everyone to learn and practice continuous quality improvement every day. Feel free to gather some ideas from the team’s activities:

  • Customized training with national Baldrige consultants
  • Business and industry visits – Video Gaming Technologies (Tulsa), St. Anthony Hospital (Oklahoma City), MESA Products (Tulsa), K&N Management (Austin, Texas)
  • Education visits – Jenks Public Schools
  • Q&A sessions with the field
  • National Quest for Excellence conference and/or regional conferences
  • Examiner training – two national examiners, five Oklahoma Quality Award Foundation examiners, one audit-only training

ODCTE is striving to provide a job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every company. Our goal is to provide you with the leadership and resources to ensure standards of excellence throughout the system. As we walk through this process together, we encourage you to ask questions and give feedback so we can better support your efforts.

FCCLA Convention a success

More than 6,721 FCCLA members, advisers and guests gathered for the 2014 FCCLA State Convention. Mike Smith spoke in the morning and challenged the students to determine what their legacies would be. Grant Baldwin spoke in the afternoon and told the audience to take responsibility for their actions and have no more excuses. Many FCCLA students were honored and recognized for success in their contests.

Alternative fuels assessments set with OMES

We now have an agreement between our agency and OMES/DCAM Alternative Fuels Program to provide three alternative fuels certification tests (Alternative Fuels Tech – LPG, Alternative Fuels Tech – CNG/NGV and CNG Compressor Operator). These will be available through HCP test sites beginning April 15. (contributed by Kimberly Sadler)

Skills Centers continue to advance digital instruction and student service

Jason Morgan is one of several key leaders working on the transformation of skills centers. Jason is working diligently to bring more digital content into the skills centers’ classrooms statewide. This will be a primary topic for the spring in-service training for the skills centers. As one person said, “It’s pretty cool stuff for a bunch of bikers pulling together tools from decommissioned agency equipment, a little baling wire and a lot of passion.”

Veteran returns to nursing school – CareerTech AND higher ed make a difference

Tim Mander thought he knew everything when he dropped out of school in eighth grade. He fathered his first child just a few years later and honorably served his country as part of the U.S. Air Force. He never dreamed the second half of his life would begin back in a classroom. But at 53 years old, with years of working construction taking a toll on his body, he took a certified nurse aide class and then tested for the licensed practical nursing program at Metro Technology Centers. He was accepted as an alternate and by fate, he said, got into the class at the last minute. Having been out of school for more than 40 years with only a military GED and no computer skills, Tim knew nursing school would be challenging. He worked as a CNA until his LPN graduation from Metro Tech, continued his education at Rose State College and graduated from the registered nurse program with a 3.89 grade point average. The only challenge that came with being the oldest person in his class was feeling wiser than everyone else, he laughed. “You show up, work hard, act interested and the rest falls into place. It’s really that simple,” he said. Now 60 years old, Tim works at Midwest Regional Medical Center. (contributed by Billie Smith)

Prior Learning Assessment Conference

The Oklahoma Department of CareerTech and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education are hosting a Prior Learning Assessment Conference April 29 at Oklahoma City Community College. In January 2014, the Higher Learning Commission notified Oklahoma of rule changes affecting the Cooperative Alliance Program. Partners from technology centers, colleges and universities, ODCTE and OSRHE have been working through four committees to revamp the program so that we can continue to provide high-quality educational experiences for youth and adult students. The conference will help the committees, specifically the Prior Learning Assessment Committee, in their work. The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning will conduct the morning session. In the afternoon, the technology center and college partners will attend breakout sessions conducted by Regents and CareerTech staff. The conference is free, but attendance is limited. For more information and to register, please visit (Submitted by Melissa Overcash and Jeremy Zweiacker)

Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs

“Oklahoma Horizon” visited with Gov. Mary Fallin on the April 13 show about the “America Works” initiative that better aligns education with industry needs and economic trends. In addition, we looked at Oklahoma’s growing independent film industry and met some students who are studying digital media across the CareerTech system. If you missed it, you can watch at (contributed by Robert McClendon)

Schedule for the week

This schedule is subject to change without notice:


Board committee meeting
Meeting with Bama Company CEO and other key business leaders
General office work


Meeting with OMES energy program leader
Tech Center Superintendents meeting


Presentation by Clayton Christianson
Governor’s Cabinet meeting
Educational Quality and Accountability Commission meeting
Meeting with Randy Gilbert and others


CareerTech State Board meeting
Meeting with Matt Singleton
General office work


Good Friday

See you around!

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