Sunday, June 11, 2017

Three Essential Questions: Developing Cohesion at the Cyert Center

The Coherence Premium conveyed the importance of zeroing in on what you do best. The article poses three questions to help organizations define their focus. When examining these questions in the context of my current workplace (the Cyert Center for Early Education at CMU), it is evident that we need to take action to bolster cohesion and add unique value to the university.

First, organizations need to ask, “How are we going to face the market?” As a branch of Human Resources, our “market” has historically been CMU staff and faculty. Based on my interactions with families, they value having high-quality childcare on campus, and the plethora of opportunities for parent involvement. However, there is no quantifiable data to affirm these impressions. In addition, we have neglected a segment of the market by failing to reach out to CMU families who do not currently have a child enrolled the center. In order to truly determine our “way to play,” it is necessary to develop more complete and concrete understanding of the market. This could be through a survey – given to the entire CMU community – which asks families about what they need and value in early childhood education.

Then, it is crucial to determine what capabilities are needed to continue to bring value. (For the scope of this assignment, I will examine this through the lens of the assumed values discussed earlier, even though the intention is to eventually do more research and re-examine these values.) In terms of my own experience, and based interactions with experienced teachers and administrators, I would define our core capabilities as follows:
1.     Providing high-quality professional development for educators
2.     Applying the innovative Reggio Emilia philosophy of education to classroom instruction
3.     Forming meaningful partnerships with parents
When examining capabilities, it is also crucial to see if your organization “lives” these strengths. The article conveys that your organizational structures need to support these capabilities. Currently, the Cyert Center has several systems to encourage parent involvement, such as scheduling regular parent meetings. However, there are no formalized mechanisms to bolster the application of our philosophy or professional development. Our structures need to explicitly support our capabilities.

Finally, organization need to examine what they are going to sell, and to whom. This question is useful for determining if a major decision will enhance “service fit.” Currently, we are opening a second school in Bakery Square. In some aspects, this move may support our current capabilities and value. It serves CMU by allowing more staff and faculty to take advantage of the university childcare benefit. But if families value on-campus care, then this expansion does not meet their needs. It would have been beneficial to have more information before making this crucial decision.

Overall, the three questions shed light on the importance of cohesion. My hope is to share these questions with the leadership team, gather the necessary data, and evaluate steps to enhance cohesion. By doing so, we can move forward with focus.

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