Winner – Human Capital Management Category
The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has created Education Policies and Standards that are transforming the institution. These Policies and Standards are a roadmap to ensure that training effectively provides the foreign affairs community with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives.
FSI undertook this frank assessment of their processes and capacity so that they could be sure they were delivering on their task to prepare U.S. diplomats for future challenges in a rapidly changing global environment. By adopting and beginning to implement the Education Policies and Standards, FSI is looking to cultivate a culture of excellence and continuous improvement that values rigorous curriculum, effective integration of educational technology to strengthen instruction, and the use of evaluation data to inform decision-making.
FSI recognized it was critical to build staff capacity to successfully create and implement the Policies and Standards. They identified the following three distinct phases of change related to this effort and matched the content and strategies for staff training with these stages: 1) Provide the Training Advisory Group (TAG) the knowledge and exposure they needed to create the Policies and Standards; 2) Develop foundational understanding of key practices in the Policies and Standards across broad audiences within the Institute when they were first introduced; and 3) Build capacity among targeted audiences within the Institute to implement the Policies and Standards.
Implementing the FSI Education Policies and Standards has significantly affected every aspect of the way the Institute operates — prompting course designers, developers, trainers, and evaluators to improve their processes, share their successes and lessons learned, and approach training with a combination of instructional system design and subject matter expertise. For example, incorporating industry best practices is improving the quality of training, and there are now Standard Operating Procedures for designing and developing curriculum. Interest in
FSI’s Educational Technology Innovation Lab as a space to explore technology and potential training applications for the workforce has taken off, with lab usage increasing by 250 percent over the past two years. The number of FSI courses systematically evaluated grew from 48 percent in 2016 to 57 percent in 2017, and the upward trajectory continues in 2018. FSI launched a new Professional Learning Day in 2017, and all staff will participate in 2018.
FSI is delivering on their objective to create a culture that values continuous improvement and the highest standards, and through their evaluation can track how this will translate into training that is more effective and efficient at preparing U.S. foreign affairs professionals for the real challenges they will face once they leave FSI’s classrooms to take on their roles representing the United States around the world. Central to FSI’s efforts to date are teamwork through steering committees, working groups, communities of practice, and organic collaboration — all of which must and will continue moving forward.