Sponsors: The secret weapon of a successful MBOE student

In Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence program, we just completed the “Gate One” review of our students, the first of four evaluations they undergo. Gates are the points where students are assessed based on the progress they have made on their capstone project. Coaches and faculty follow a rubric that assesses students for their growth as lean thinkers and how they are applying the principles they learned in the classroom and from the gemba to their own organization.

At Fisher, we have created a rubric that helps the faculty and coaches make a fair assessment of the student’s progress irrespective of their experience with operational excellence methods. We assess students based on:

  • The consistency of the problem statement they have chosen to work on for their capstone project;
  • How well they use value stream mapping along with their team to understand the problem; and
  • The application of A3 thinking for their problem solving process.
mboe rubric
A snapshot of our grading rubric for Gate 1

Jumping to solutions addresses only the symptoms. We like to see an in-depth analysis of the root cause of the problem in the form of a cause map and how well the countermeasures are connected with the root causes. In addition, we also assess how students communicate with the coach, sponsor and relevant stakeholders from areas outside the realm of their control. Creativity is yet another dimension we consider to assess the students especially for the countermeasures they implement to successfully solve the problem.

The student’s individual efforts and the coach’s guidance can lead to major progress only if the sponsor plays his or her part well. The more involved the sponsor is, the more likely the student is to succeed. So how can a sponsor get involved?

  •  First of all, we interview the student and the sponsor together before the student can get in the program. The sponsor weighs in on the capstone project that the student chooses to work on. We encourage them to select a project that is expected to have an impact on the strategic goal.
  • We expect our students to keep the sponsor informed on what they learned in class and their plan of action for bringing out improvement.
  • We invite our sponsors to attend any lectures during the MBOE session that might interest them. This way they learn about what the student is learning in class and are in a position to support the students in implementing the tools, methods and strategies they are learning in class. To facilitate this we will start sending out to our sponsors announcements that the students receive that provide the details of each MBOE week session.
  • We also engage the sponsor in evaluating the student and also share the outcomes of the evaluation having reviewed with faculty and other coaches.
  • Last but not least, we also invite them to read this blog to see what was covered in the lectures and also read about some of the concepts and methods used to achieve operational excellence.

The wheel of success turns only when the three cogs – student, coach and sponsor – move synchronously.

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