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«DOCUMENT RESUME ED 278 089 EA 019 067 AUTHOR McCune, Shirley D. TITLE Guide to Strategic Planning for Educators. INSTITUTION Association for ...»

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When a management technique is adap=Pted to new settings, it passes through several stages of refinement anal insight. During the initial mphasis was placed on the stages of strategic planning by schools, an extended form of longplanning itself. For many it was seen a range planning with the added steps of e-ivironmental scanning that was unlikely to have any great impact otzvi the traditional role of the school. Other districts and schools have used parts of the strategic planning process, such as the analysis of internal orgLnizational capacity to develop general improvement pLaans. These districts did not link their planning to respond to tbe neells of the larger community.

However, some districts understand the po-.-tential of strategic planning to bring about organizational transformataion. They have applied the technique not only to planning, but also to restructuring programs,


management styles, clients, fiscal arrangements, and relationships with the community.

Experience with strategic planning suggests that it may have either minimal impact on a district or be a catalyst for district transformation. Its impact is determined by the beginning level of district/ school capacity, the leadership that backs the plan (energy and commitment of key people), the quality of the implementation plan, and the persistence in carrying out the plan.

Definitions of Strategic Planning Strategic planning is a rational process or series of steps that move

an educational organization through:

I. understanding the external forces or changes relevant to it;

2. assessing its organizational capacity;

3. developing a vision (mission) of its preferred future as well as a strategic direction to follow to achieve that mission;

4. developing goals and plans that will move it from where it is to where it wants to be;

5. implementing the plans it has developed; and

6. reviewing progYess, solving problems, and renewing plans.

Strategic planning obviously goes beyond a mechanistic series of planning procedures. Its power is in its capacity to create dissonance in people, upset old views, identify new possibilities, and pose new

questions. In this sense, strategic planning is:

a management process for changing and transforming organizations, a management philosophy, a way of thinking about and solving problems, an educational experience and staff development ac ivity, an organizational development experience, and a community education and involvc.ment process.

Transformation is the process of shifting our basic assumptions and reorganizing our views of the world, our goals, and our behaviors.

Changes in society have occurred so rapidly and extensively as to warrant our calling this time an age of transition. At times such as this we must reexamine our assumptions about organizations, about programs, about management, and about our personal lives. We must also learn to adapt to the requirements of our changed environment.

Strategic planning helps us carry out this process of reexamination and invention.

Strategic planning is a rational planning process, but it has strong psychological effects on an organization and the people involved in the process. Environmental scanning (external and internal) and the reTEGIC PLANNING IN EDUCATION lated educational processes raise powerE---7-ul questions and issues for the organaation and the individual. Some e-=xamples of questions raised by the process are provided below.

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Individual Questions

1. What are the consequences of t.The changes in society for my professional and personal life?

2. What is the meaning of what I EL.-n doing? How does it fit with the larger scheme of things?

3. What are the possibilities for involvement in valuable acivf.ties?

4. What does all of this mean for mr long-range future? Will I be able to meet the new pressures am.nd challenges?

5. Can I see shortcuts or new possibir-ilities for accomplishing what feel is important?

6. Where can 'get help and suppot from others to protect myself and to change and gTow?

Individual reactions to the environental scanning and commulity/staff education process, which is an iantegral part of strategic planr=ting, differ. For mostpeople it is an oppftiortunity to better understand nd integrate insights they have alreadlty experienced; they welcome Lt and feel it adds some shape and directic= to their current knowledge.

C=ithers, however, may regard the need fc=r change as a threat because 1iey are uncertain how they will fit intow. the changed conditions. Still =pthers may choose to ignore the implicaleLions of the need for change.


Fortunately, the most common reaction is a high legevel of positive feelings and excitement. Those who become involved in the process reorient their assumptions about the world, the role =of schools, and their own personal behaviors. They see new possibilities-z and a common direction for organizational growth and achievernen. In some instances the excitement produced by the process and its ---ossible effects on peoples lives may make it so interesting that the- planning and mpiementation work is forgotten. A case in point is a school district nd futures acthat became so interested in environmental scanning tivities that they set up an ongolng futuresgroup for staM-- and a futures curriculum for students, but never got around to completing the stages of Arategic planning.

Given the potential of strategic planning, it is diricult to find a definition that does justice to the purpose of strategic pl_ aiming and its

related impact on an organization. Definitions that har. e been put forward include:

Stratewic planning is a process of matching results of arL assessment of an institution's external environment with the result of - an institution's internal environment. [the process] should be to assis-=t institutions to capitalize on strengths, minimize weaknesses, take acWvantage of opportunities, and eliminate or reduce threats.

Warren Goff Strategic planning is a vision of what the organization sThould be. It provides a framework which guides choices that deterrni-=e the nature and direction of an organization.

Ben Tregoe Strategic planning is the process by which grinding inemia3ers of an organization envision its future and develop the necessary procedures and operations to achieve that future.

-Pfeiffer, Goods-ein, and Nolan The above definitions focus on the planning aspects krid the framework strategic planning provides for decision makirlg. Important as

these may be, strategic planning, as used throughout his book, embraces a broader meaning:

Strategic planning is a process for 9rganizational renewal and transformation. This process provides a means of matchi=lg services and activities with changed and changing environmental confteitions.

Strategic planning provides a framework for the improvrnent and restructuring of progTams, management,collaberations,.nd evaluation of the organization's progress.

Strategic planning is often thought of as a form of long-range planning. Although both types of planning are concem-ned with the future, there are structural difFerences between therr._ Long-range planning typically begins with an assumption that tli organization will remain comparatively stable; it seeks to develop mnternal goals


end projections based on that aumption. 3trategic planning, on the other hand, begins with an examination of the external environment and using that information reexamines the basic role of the organization within the context of what is happening in the larger society.

Other differences between strategic and long-range planning are provided in Figure :2-1.

Strategic planning within a district does not eliminate the need for traditional planning activities. Rather, it provides the framework

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Adapted from Cope 1981


or superordinate set (a mission and strategic goals) to guide other planning, decision making, and management.

In most school districts, planning should be implemented at three levels: in policy, in program development, and in program delivery. A primary use of strategic planning is at the policy level where the basic district mission, goals, and expectations for performance and outcomes are developed. Once formulated at the policy level, strategic planning provides a framework to guide program development and program delivery. A visual representation of these three levels of planning is provided in Figure 2-2.

Each planning level provides a different element for organizational success. Strategic planning addresses the relevancy of the total organizational program. It begins with the question, "What knowledge, skills, and capabilities will youth and adults need in the future?" Relevant programs meet the needs of the coinniunity and the clients served.

Strategic planning requires the development of a vision or an approximation of the future that provides the assumptions for developing the organizational mission and strategic goals. The vision becomes the framework for program development and decision making.

Program planning addresses the issue of effectiveness. "Are we doing the things that will help us achieve our mission and goals?" This question may easily relate to curriculum and instructional systems, but it is equally important to review the budget, physical facilities, staff development, technology, personnel systems, and other factors to ensure that they support the attainment of the mission and goals.

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The third level of planning is for program delivery. ProgTam delivery planning addresses the issue of efficiency. It asks, "How well are we doing things? Does the day-to-day delivery of services support the attainment of our mission and goals?" It is important to note that high levels of achievement are possible only when each of these three planning elements is in place. A district's mission and goals may be relevant but not effective or efficient. A district may be effective, but its mission may not be relevant. The first stage of strategic planning may provide a mission and goals, but little will be achieved if it is not followed up with strong planning and implementation.

The Phases of Strategic Planning The decision to engage in strategic planning should not be made quickly or without serious consideration of the time and effort required to fully implement such a plan. Traditional planning often results in the preparation of an elegant document. The ultimate outcome of effective strategic planning, on the other hand, is organizationwide change or transformation.

Strategic planning in a public agency is a slower process than in the business world. Decision making in a school district, for example, is widely distributed. Although the board of education is the official governing body, administrators, unions, parents, and the business community may exert considerable influence on the district. If time is taken to involve affected and interested parties (stakeholders), the plan will become their plan, implementation will be accelerated, and the potential for Future conflict and disagreement will be reduced.

A district should aim to have a written strategic plan together with a mission and strategic goals ready after one school year. Implementation plans should follow in about three months, and full implementation of the plan should be expected in 15 to 18 months. The first stage of plan development is usually characterized by a high level of excitement, tempered in later stages by a more realistic understanding of the effort required for implementation.

The initial values of strategic planning may be described as the development of community and staff awareness and consensus. A common data base derived from the external and internal scanning is a primary early outcome of strategic planning. Dialogue about the data collected transforms them to information that is widely shared among district stakeholders. Changes commonly observed during this period include a new vocabulary and dialogue. People begin to develop images of what might be.


Developing the strategic plan and, subsequently, the implementation plans, adds the element of realism to the planning process. While plans should never lose sight of a future vision, questions of how to actualize the vision require the difficult commitment to realize the vision. The district must focus on the question: "Will this action or activity lead us to our vision?" The full organizational impact of strategic planning begins to be seen during implementation activities when people are involved in new or modified programs, activities, and behaviors. At later stages this process is widely integrated into district systems at all levels. One should realize that widespread organizational behavior will probably not be seen until a district has spent at least two to three years in this process, although there will be many positive outcomes before this time.

This time schedule can be accelerated if resources are available for additional staff, intensive training sessions, or if crisis situations dictate action. Decision makers, however, should realize that the scope of planning, implementing, and evaluation must be carried out while the district continues to function under the usual press of day-to-day operations.

Strategic planning may be organized into five general phases of effort or focus. Time and effort required for each phase is not equal, and activities may overlap, but the phases give a general sense of

sequence and organization. These phases include:

Phase I: Creating a Base for Planning and Change Phase IL Developing the Strategic Plan Phase III: Developing the Implementation Plan Phase IV: Implementing and Monitoring the Plan Phase V: Renewing the Plan (See fig. 2-3.) Activities and outcomes of each of these phases are discussed in the following sections.

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