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What are the similarities between the best economies, the best schools and the best manufacturers?

Posted by Bert Maes on July 22, 2010

I can’t help but notice that the economies, manufacturing enterprises and educational establishments that are successful have created a surprisingly similar set of characteristics.

In my view, all of them grew faster, because they assisted their target group with better leaders to meet demands, better tools, better training program, faster processes, highly targeted improvement projects and predictable financial support.

The top-performing economic regions assist their businesses better in bringing together business groups, venture capital investors, economic development organizations, technology incubators and education institutions:

  • Export assistance for enterprises via financial/managerial/technical/cultural training, market research, reaching out and promotion to global markets, facilitating contacts the start-ups need to sell overseas and support in obtaining financing to participate in trade transactions;
  • Infrastructure investments in roads, ports, high speed telecommunication, research labs, parks and training centers for cluster concentration of complementary businesses;
  • Connecting businesses to technology-driven schools for a better educated workforce, especially setting up STEM partnerships to grow our technology-based economy;
  • Make start-ups operational faster, help businesses sort through the many layers of government regulations, streamlining permitting processes and training programs;
  • Highly targeted tax credits for e.g. R&D within the state, new technology, employee training, pollution control equipment, job creation;
  • Providing stable and predictable grants, funds by combining state capital with sufficient private sources of risk capital.

The top-performing manufacturing companies are more competitive, have a higher markets share because they put more efforts in the right things:

  • Better assistance to customers and creating more value: product & service bundling that deliver unmet customer needs;
  • Higher investments in technology and new manufacturing methods to raise productivity, including CNC machines, CAD/CAM, workholding, tooling, robotics etc;
  • Developing the manpower behind the scenes and connecting to local schools for more enterprise-ready skilled workers;
  • Performing jobs faster an cheaper with better process & quality management and reduced cycle times & set-up times;
  • Improving channels for marketing and communication to increase presence in targeted customer segments that are not reached yet;
  • Open credit lines with low-interest venture capital assistance to spur exporting to emerging markets.

The best schools in terms of student achievement and student engagement all have a shared pattern of characteristics of building an environment that supports learning:

  • Improved assistance and real support for teachers in terms of quality of their schools’ leadership focused on creating an environment of commitment, shared values and beliefs, high expectations, high-demand ethos towards the students and accountability at every level, a say in school decision making in the decisions that affect their professional lives, and time and opportunities to work with their peers to discuss clearer and higher standards and work out strategic responses to failing students;
  • Investments in new leaders, new teachers, up-to-date innovative curricula blending academics with vocational training, access to up-to-date technology, using sophisticated data systems to track student progress and pinpoint instructional needs and good quality, safe, varied and stimulating infrastructures;
  • Continuous investments in quality staff development of committed teachers towards exciting activities, integrating new technologies in the classroom, discipline, establishing stronger relationships between students and teachers to make the young feel valued;
  • Better academic, financial, nutritious, health care and library support targeting struggling students;
  • Enabling teachers to react faster on identified needs, via freedom from bureaucracy – and as such more concentration/more time spent on teaching and learning;
  • Access to strong, sustained public-private social and financial resources that are used towards effective teaching and learning and creating a richer education experience, with strong involvement of parents, community, foundations, nonprofits, wealthy individuals, corporations, and public agencies. A study from the Wallace Foundation has found that high student achievement is linked to “collective leadership”: an open decision-making process where educators, parents, and others can influence school decisions.

Do you see more similarities?


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