5 Steps to Improve Your School District with Strategy

By Jonathan Morgan, Senior Consultant, AchieveIt

Jonathan Morgan, Senior Consultant, AchieveIt

It’s that time of the year again. The school bells begin to ring, students depart for summer break, and administration continues on to their favorite time of the year: PLANNING SEASON. 

"We’ve seen tremendous success when organizations and districts focus on incremental changes that are more achievable instead of starting anew with each plan."

With impending break and warmer weather, the last thing superintendents, principals and other administration want to do is sit through seemingly endless meetings and incomprehensible spreadsheets in attempt to create a new strategic plan. Nothing impacts a school district quite as much as its ability to both creates and implements a successful strategic plan. While its importance is known, it unfortunately becomes an afterthought and a chore undertaken with resistance far too often.

So it is my hope that I can provide a few basic tips to ensure your school district both creates and implements strategy effectively.

Ensure Everyone is On the Same Page

Far too often school district strategies involve individuals with different ideas for not only what the plan should include, but also how it should be developed. While open discussion is healthy to create a successful plan, disagreements around basic elements can often wreck a plan before it ever takes off. It is critical to standardize the process of how the plan will be created and communicate this process if you want to make your time as productive as possible and focus on the content of your strategy.

Think of Strategic Planning as a Review Process, Not a Development Process

Strategic plans should be living documents. Unfortunately for most organizations they are often treated as untouchable items that remain static over the course of one, three or even five years. While AchieveIt allows school districts to remain agile during their plan execution, it is important to keep this same frame of mind when creating a new plan. Take a look at the recent past, document the way things work today, and previous successes. From there, make revisions on how to take these elements to the next level instead of attempting to boil the entire ocean every planning season. We’ve seen tremendous success when organizations and districts focus on incremental changes that are more achievable instead of starting anew with each plan.

Engage the Community Early

Ultimately, the success of a school district directly impacts the surrounding community. For this reason, doesn’t it seem important to gauge insights and recommendations from the surrounding community? While it is impossible to include the hopes and wishes of every parent, student and staff member, engaging the community will make planning a more collaborative process and give more individuals a stake in successfully executing the strategy. Conduct surveys, take feedback from PTA and/or staff meetings and understand what gaps are currently present. You’d be surprised with the ideas that arise that previously would have never been considered.

Be a Collaborative Leader

While you (or your team) may be the one(s) responsible for creating the plan, it can’t be fully devised and implemented alone. We already mentioned the importance of engaging the community early in the process, but it shouldn’t stop there. Use the resources around you to cascade responsibilities and hold individuals accountable for their responsibilities. Having proper alignment and accountability across your plan allows you to be a more collaborative leader instead of a dictator. This also gives individuals a personal stake in the plan, driving a higher success rate.

Turn your Focus to Execution

Why spend so much time creating a plan if you don’t plan to implement it? While this sounds obvious, I have seen district after district create great plans and then simply let them collect dust on the shelf. Your plan should be a living document with regular updates, discussions and revisions. Ask yourself if you have the tools in place to ensure you properly track, monitor and report on the progress of your district’s strategy.

Many districts whether they have an execution process in place or not, turn to AchieveIt to ensure the execution phase of strategy is painless.

How AchieveIt Can Help

AchieveIt’s Execution Insight Platform solves common implementation challenges by fostering accountability, driving alignment, providing visibility and facilitating collaboration. If your school district is planning major strategic change initiatives for the 2017-2018 academic years, sign up for a demo today.

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