I've realized that over the past few weeks I have truly begun to see my school district from a different perspective. Once I see it that way, I can't un-see it that way. This beginning study of VUSD as a whole organization has permanently shifted the angle of my lens. Things look a lot more big-picture to me now.
After everything I've read so far, it is clear to me that it is important for any organization, including school districts, to put a business architecture in place. That business architecture will function as the big picture plan as well as the laser focus plan along each business line. The business architecture will advise and guide all decisions and policies. It is smart and important to have a business architecture in place.
Once that architecture is in place, it is vital to begin to look at the future state of the organization and to look at its goals. There aren't many things that are for certain in Life, but Change is something that is for certain. Organizations must plan for change and plan for growth. Any organization that doesn't create a future state business architecture will find itself outdated very quickly. The world welcomes change at a fast pace these days, especially in technology and education. If school districts want to remain relevant, offer the best educations possible, and prepare students to engage and compete in the ever important global information economy, they must plan for the future ... now.
What is also clear is that future state planning for the organization is not something that just the top tier administration must worry about. It must include all stakeholders along each business line. I love this quote from this week's reading because it is very direct, "Please note that the BA future state planning is not just an EA’s task or a CIO group’s task. It cannot be successful without the business leaders driving it and providing strong support" (p.20) The planning in business architecture never really has an end, as there is a constant cycling through the steps of categorizing, identifying improvements, and implementing solutions. To remain healthy and viable, an organization must remain in growth - just like people.
Cio.ca.gov,. (2015). Retrieved 23 February 2015, from http://www.cio.ca.gov/Publications/pubs/Appendix_A
This week as I spent much time navigating Vista Unified School District’s website, a picture has begun to come into focus for me as to how the various business services departments within our district operate. I have never looked that deeply into our organization, and I came across so many items that were very enlightening as to how our district is run. I learned more about how our district is run working on the assignment for this week than in all twelve years I have been employed by the district. To take note of exactly how many people each department employs, was very interesting. That number seems to correspond with the complexity of the functions and services that each department provides. As I looked into the details of each department I could begin to see the web of the workflow within each department. The service initiates here and then is moved along to this person who performs this function, and so on, until the service is completed. For most departments there are specific purposes and services offered or provided, a mission statement that aligns with VUSD’s overall mission, specific job titles to handle specific functions, a budget, resources available to assist in the understanding of the department functions and procedures, and specific procedures to follow when requesting, processing, working on, or delivering services within that department.
What I don’t know yet, is what the overall BA structure looks like. What guides and governs how these business services departments work together as one BA? If "Business Architecture is the foundation of EEA and drives all the other architectures to ensure that EEA focuses on the agency’s goals and strategies" (p.11), and if "... documentation of Business Architecture provides a valuable tool for illustrating and communicating the business of the agency to all stakeholders (p.11), then is it the LCAP (what our district calls our Blueprint for Educational Excellence) that is the formal BA? Do each of the business services departments simply follow the guidelines now set forth in that documented plan? That seems to be where the trail of breadcrumbs is leading. So, then, if that is the case, do the various directors of these departments meet regularly to share information and data, self-assess, revise procedures, and make overall BA decisions collectively? My learning this week has lead me to more questions, but I see that as a good thing, because each week my understanding is a little deeper, and my curiosity a little wider.
2014, M. (n.d.). Education Enterprise Architecture Guidebook. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/implementation-support-unit/tech-assist/education-architecture-guidebook.pdf
Here is a link to a KWL chart regarding Enterprise Architecture Frameworks. While I am still getting my feet wet with learning about EA, it is beginning to feel less and less foreign. This week I read about the standard frameworks for EA that have been adopted as business models. As I read about them they seemed complicated and foreign, but I think it is mostly because these are frameworks that are applied to specific business models. I went through the assignment of choosing one framework to overlay my school district onto, and in that process it seems like I began to gain more clarity. It was a good exercise in application. I'm sure I'm way off in how my district would actually organize the architecture, but at least I have a feel for looking at the organization as a whole and imagining a workflow and organizational flow that is based on the vision and mission of the district. This week's assignment was very helpful. I still have much more to learn. Looking forward to it! :)
Yes- Enterprise Architecture is new to me. As I'm reading more about it, I can absolutely see that my role in my school district is related to my district's Enterprise Architecture. Strategy seven in VUSD's Blueprint for Educational Excellence specifically lines out all of the plans for growth and implementation of technology and online and blended learning. Specifically, the blueprint states that two online and blended resource teachers will be hired to create online teacher pd related to online and blended learning, and create other district-wide projects and enterprises related to online and blended learning. Well, I applied for one of those positions, and got the job. I took on the position the first week back from winter break, so it is still a new position for me. I asked to still be able to stay in the classroom part time so that I can continue my work with students, and that was made possible. So I'm happy to report that I am working with students at Vista Visions Academy 50% and working as an online and blended resource teacher the other 50%. It is exciting work, and we are already beginning with teaming up with the good people at SDCOE to provide professional development for all of our content resource teachers. So, it seems, specifically, VUSD's EA actually allowed for my current position to be created. I have a feeling that in the coming months I am going to become more intimately acquainted with the enterprise architecture of VUSD, as my role in the district is new and unfolding as part of the plan that is currently rolling out. I can see the "EA= S+B+ T", which is Enterprise Architecture equals Strategy plus Business plus Technology, as I read strategy 7 from the VUSD Blueprint. The planning for creating my current position wasn't just a technology move. It is part of a larger, holistic plan to make sure that VUSD's teachers will have the support they need as the district moves toward 1:1 implementation with devices, and also moves toward schooling differently in the new technology-rich landscape, which allows such different and amazing learning experiences to occur.
Bernard, S. A. (2012). An introduction to enterprise architecture.
I had never heard the term Enterprise Architecture before beginning this course. From what I am reading in the introduction to EA it seems to be an ultimate method of planning and structuring that provides a holistic view and plan of the entire organization and how all of the various important aspects of an organization work together.This makes sense to me, as a large organization such as a school district could potentially waste a lot of money and resources if all of the various parts are making decisions separately of the organization as a whole. I like that EA looks at the present and future of an organization so that there is vision, mission, and goals which can drive decisions across the entire organization. EA seems to be the major reference point for the organization. It is what links everything together in a smooth flow of operation. Since I tend to think in metaphor (& simile), EA is the thesis statement of an organization. Just as in an essay, every bit of writing needs to support and lead back to the thesis, so it is in an organization, every element flows from and leads back to the EA.
As a classroom teacher I never thought much about the larger decisions and policies that are made "Elsewhere." My focus has always been my students, and any decisions and policies made at the district level that ultimately affected my daily life as a teacher were just things I had to embrace and deal with. As I consider a career path that leads me into leadership, I completely see the necessity to learn about the big picture of education within a school district , and how the organization is run as a whole. It is a very big shift in focus and thinking for me, so I know it will take me a bit to adjust my focus. I will admit that it feels a little foreign and even unpleasant to shift my focus to the large organization and away from students. It has me pondering my goals, looking at my original reasons for becoming an educator, and internally exploring my current ideas and goals as an educator. Where can I do the most good for students? In the classroom? At the helm of a school? Contributing to the making of decisions that affect the entire organization? These are big questions to ponder, and important ones. I am looking forward to my journey in this class as one that will help me dig into these questions. I will try to lean in and embrace the discomfort of learning about something that feels foreign, as it is absolutely necessary to investigate the concept of EA for a school district because "Having a single source of reference is essential to avoiding waste and duplication in large, complex organizations" (Bernard, 2012, Location 538), and one large, over-arching structure is necessary as the only point of reference.
Bernard, S. A. (2012). An introduction to enterprise architecture.