Overview of the Strategic Planning Process
Strategic Planning is in itself a continuous improvement process based on key questions:
- Where are we now? (How would you describe what is working and what needs attention? What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as described by data, information and perceptions?)
- Where do we want to be? (What are your best hopes for the future? What do you want to be different 5-10 years from now compared to what it is currently? What is the preferred future?)
- How will you get from where you are to where you want to be? (What will everyone do differently to get improved results? What research-based strategies will you implement with fidelity? How will what you do drive your professional development planning and implementation?)
- What are you learning? (How will you be certain that your implementation of the research-based strategies are adding value and improving your results? How will you monitor and report your progress?)
- Define what we ALL need to do well together.
- Set focus and priorities.
- Define commitments and nonnegotiables.
- Define how we measure success.
- Connect initiatives to needs and requirements.
Effective Strategic Plans:
- Reflect stakeholders’ voices and needs in the development of system goals.
- Provide indicators and measures to track and report progress on goal attainment.
- Set long and short-term targets for continuous improvement.
- Provide clear direction to align Board, district, site, administrative and staff evaluation goals.
- Provide timely feedback to stakeholders regarding growth and progress.
Outcomes of the Strategic Planning Process include:
- Enlisting the participation of stakeholder groups - board of education, certified and support staff, administration, parents, students and community - to assess the current performance results of the district and envision a preferred future.
- Using data to drive decision-making for continuous improvement.
- Determining gaps between the current performance and the preferred future performance.
- Ensuring a process to bring the plan to life through actions, monitoring, and tracking/reporting progress.
Living the Plan
- While it is important to use a great process to establish an excellent strategic plan, it is more important to take action to be certain the plan becomes the engine that drives improvement and sets forth clear direction for the organization. There are several critical strategies to be certain the plan does not sit on the shelf and collect dust:
- Align the plan with school improvement plans. Schools must examine their data aligned to the key indicators and measures of the long-range goals of the district’s strategic plan. They must set their own targets. When schools improve, the district improves. Schools must also include implementation of any district strategy action plans.
- Align with performance evaluation systems: Be certain that key indicators, measures and targets align with the way the superintendent and his/her cabinet are evaluated. Be certain that key indicators, measures and targets align with the way building leaders are evaluated. Be certain that key indicators, measures and targets align with the way teachers and other certified staff are evaluated.
- Ensure a research-based action planning process for strategy action plans. Use a Plan-Do-Study-Act process. Be certain action plans are SMART. Align key action plans with district department leaders and shared decision-making committees. Be certain those impacted by the action plans have opportunities to provide into input to their design and development.
- Align the plan with important agenda: The board and administrative team monthly agenda should include an update on strategic plan implementation. Keep the mission and vision at the forefront. It is imperative that everyone in the organization reflects continuously on the mission and vision of the district. Schools must also include implementation of any district strategy action plans. Use values/beliefs and commitments to recruit and hire new employees. Values/beliefs and commitments define expectations for behaviors and actions. They should guide hiring decisions. They should provide periodic reflection opportunities for all stakeholders to remind themselves of what has been identified as core values and commitments.
- Provide quarterly and annual progress monitoring reports to all stakeholder groups on the both the progress of action plans and the performance of the organization. Be both progress-monitoring and reporting; keep the plan’s focus before its stakeholder groups. It is critical to celebrate accomplishments and identify opportunities for improvement throughout the plan’s duration.