«DOCUMENT RESUME ED 278 089 EA 019 067 AUTHOR McCune, Shirley D. TITLE Guide to Strategic Planning for Educators. INSTITUTION Association for ...»
Scheduling these types of community education and involvement activities prior to collecting data generally increases the quality of the information gathered. But it is important to note that community education and involvement must continue throughout the strategic planning process. Stakeholders need periodic progress reports as well as an opportunity to air their ideas and reactions.
Summary This first phase of strategic planning is extremely important. The quality of information collected and the way it is organized will determine the scope of understanding during actual plan development.
Involving community groups and staff effectively creates an open cliSTHATEGIC PINNINo i EDUCATION mate, establishes the trust necessary for plan development and implementation, and ensures a common base of information upon which understanding can develop.
This phase of planning will probably take one school year unless the district has already been engaged in preparatory activities. It is essential that top management (the superintendent) endorses the process and supports staff work. It also is important that adequate staff resources be allocated to the task and that the staff has direct access to the superintendent.
While a great deal of effort goes into this phase of planning, many of the activities have meaning and significance for the district beyond the development of the plan. The collection of internal data sets the stage for ongoing management information systems. The collection of external data provides a baseline for decision making, and the community education effort creates a common framework of understanding for decision making and improved interorganizational relationships.
Phase Developing the Strategic Plan Who should be involved in the planning? Selection of the individuals to develop the plan may be done in a variety of ways. Because the strategic plan is a framework for district policy, the policymakers (board members) must be involved in some meaningful way.
The board and top management may be the primary work group to review the environmental analyses, identify and review implications, and develop scenarios or formulate a vision for the school district.
A group of top management staff may develop alternatives and then involve board members in a second review and preliminary formulation of a plan. Another approach is to appoint a task force of knowledgeable community and staff members to review the data and prepare the initial formulation of the plan.
The local situation and trust level among groups should be considered when determining the best method to use. Bringing in knowledgeable business people is a means of ensuring a broader range of experience and perspective. It may be useful to bring in the top staff and teacher representatives at an early stage of the process. The formulation of the planning group will shape expectations about the plan and its implementation. Regardless of the method used, continuing communication with and the provision for input from all groups are essential.
The planning group should be kept small enough for meaningful discussion (probably not more than 12 to 18 persons), but larger groups can be used with a skillful combination of small- and large-group discussion and work. It may be wise to have one or two outside facilitators
GUIDE TO ST __TEGIO PLANNING FOR E UCATORSto keep things moving smoothly and to provide information and content. Facilitators are especially useful in helping the planning group deal with external and internal scanning data. Since they are not part of the school system, they are frequently able to handle sensitive issues, make sure everyone gets a chance to speak, and clarify different points of view.
The first consideration of the environmental scanning data should allow for an intensive period during which people can devote their full attention to the task. A retreat of two to three days away from the organizational setting is usually advisable. Facilitators should ensure that adequate time is available for an in-depth analysis of the scanning data before launching into a discussion of the strategic plan itself. It may even be advisable to schedule work sessionsa two- to three-day session to review the scanning data and a second retreat or work session to develop the plan after people have had time to consider the scanning data.
Ideas to Consider How does a group arrive at a strategic plan, and what should such a plan look like? Thought processes do not follow a linear path. Nonetheless, a general sequence of ideas to consider in developing a strategic plan is presented below.
Review of External Scanning:
Where is the community?
What are the national, state, regional, and local trends?
What implications are they likely to have for schools in our community?
What opportunities (needs) are there in the community?
What threatens the future well-being of schools in our COM° munity?
What activities might be developed in the future?
Review of Internal Scanning:
Where is our organization?
What are our organizational strengths? (staff, curriculum, food service, business management, staff development, etc.) What are the critical issues facir4 our organization?
What internal steps (improvement) must be taken to strengthen our organization?
Where are the possible "matches" between community opportunities (needs) and the resources and strengths of our organization?
Developing a Vision:
What is our preferred future?
STRATEGIC PLANNING IN EDUCATIONWhat would we like to see our organization doing five years from now?
What role would we like to have schools perform in the future?
What should be the core purpose or mission of our schools?
What things do we value most about our schools and the ways they operate?
What words or phrases describe our belief (philosophy) and the mission we want for our schools?
Developing Strategic Goals:
How might we achieve our preferred future?
What general or large tasks do we need to accomplish if we are to achieve our preferred future? (These should require some time to accomplish.) Over what time period should these tasks be accomplished?
What will we have accomplished in five years?
The outcome of this activity should be a first draft of the strategic plan. The plan itself should be a concise documentone that sets guidelines for the development of schools in the community. Items commonly
included in strategic plans are:
the need for a strategic plan, philosophic beliefs and planning assumptions, district mission, and district strategic goals.
The initial plan should be reviewed by stakeholder groups. The planning group need not respond to every suggestion but should carefully consider comments and suggestions for revision. This process will improve the quality of the proposed plan, provide valuable information about future issues, and encourage a feeling of stakeholder ownership of the plan.
After reviewing suggestions and comments of stakeholders, a final version of the strategic plan should be drafted and adopted by the school board. It should be understood that the plan is not only a guide for staff and program implementation but also a framework for policy and decision making.
Summary The final version of the district strategic plan should be a comparatively straightforward, concise document outlining the preferred
future of the district. A good strategic plan should include:
a statement that addresses community and school needs and assumptions about the future;
a mission, stated as an ideal purpose or vision around which people can organize their energies and efforts (an image of what people desire for the future);
GUIDE TO STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR EDUCATORSstrategic goals for the larger organization, tasks necessary to attain the vision, general long-range goals (for three to five years); and a plan that is clearly written and easily understood by readers.
The final document may not encompass every identified expectation or desire. This is normal. It should, however, provide a sense of direction and identify the primary goals to pursue to move in the desired direction. Most districts need about three months to develop the plan, but the process should not be delayed for long. It is better to move on, making modifications after the plan has been implemented.
Phase III: Developing the Implementation Plan The strategic plan sets forth the mission and goals of the district.
It provides a general map, not a blueprint or overly specific directions.
It should be viewed as a statement of where the district is going.
The implementation plan, on the other hand, employs traditional planning methods to reach the stated destination. Strategic planning has often been likened to navigating a convoy of ships: the strategic plan establishes the destination, such as London, and the convoy's mission, which is to get there safely. But the way each ship gets there varies. Individual ships may alter their courses to avoid storms, make repairs, refuel, and so on, but they all have a common destination.
So, too, the strategic plan states the destination, but the implementation plan fills in the ways in which this destination is to be reached. Implementation plans are usually developed for a year but may be extended for a longer time period. Implementation plans should be developed for districtwide systems (physical facilities, personnel, community relations, curriculum, instruction, staff development, technoiogy, etc.) and for individual schools. In each instance it is important to remember that implementation plans are likely to cover many areas not included in the strategic plan. It is necessary that they be aligned with the strategic plan so they do not retard prog-ress toward accomplishing the strategic goals.
Implementation plans should be developed by those responsible for carrying them out. This requires that principals and central office staff have an in-depth understanding of the plans they are to implement. The plans, however, must be coordinated by some central planning group. It is essential to maintain a balance and creative tension between district and building goals and among district system plans.
A districtwide mission or strategic vision makes it possible to see functional connections between these levels. Top management and the school board then must ensure that implementation plans are consistent with the strategic plan.
TRATEGIC PLANNING IN EDUCATIONDeveloping implementation plans is not to be taken lightly. It requires time to involve key staff and for them, in turn, to involve their staff. For example, principals should be encouraged to involve.
teachers in building plans. Central staff will want to include key people in developing their plans. In an ideal situation, staff would meet two or three weeks before school opens. They would then have time for intensive planning. There would be time for general sessions to outline the planning purposes and procedures, report general progress, and coordinate plans. There would also be time for small-group sessions to develop plans, and free time to create daily work plans. Where this is not possible, planning may extend over a longer period of time. Even in this case, however, it is best to block out shorter time periods for intensive planning.
Implementation plans should be as specific as possible. A format often used for planning at this level is prov ided in Figure 2-7, Other formats for implementation plans may also be appropriate. If district personnel are familiar with a specific type of planning methodology, so much the better. Using it will probably speed up development. A good implementation plan outline includes goals, objectives, specific activities, timelines, responsibilities, and outcomes. Where district staff have significant planning experience, it may be useful to develop specific indicators for evaluation. This is particularly appropriate when district staff includes planning personnel.
Summary The strategic plan addresses the question of relevancy or a longrange look at where the district ir, going. The implementation plan addresses the question of effectiveness. It offers a short-range look at how the district intends to achieve the rnission and goals outlined in the strategic plan. Ultimate success of any strategic plan will be determined by the quality of the implementation plan. The implementation plan guides the staff while providing a yardstick for evaluating the progress of the district, the central office, and the building. It provides a basic management tool and framework for staff and program evaluatior Phase IV: Implementing and Monitoring the Plan Upon completion of the implementation plan, emphasis shifts to strategic management (i.e., the incorporation of the strategic plan into the day-to-day activities of the district). During this phase, administrators and supervisors are responsible for implementation. This shift cannot occur unless efforts are made to prepare the staff and provide it with the knowledge and skills necessary for implementation.
GUIDE TO STRATEGtç PLANNING FOR EDUCATORS
:oal: To improve instruction in Minto Valley School, Objective: To increase the number of instructional methodologies used by teachers in every classroom and to increase student achievement by 5 percent on tests.
Implementation Staff development is critical at this stage. It furthers the goals of the strategic plan and is a necessary element for building understanding and shaping district culture. This in turn promotes the plan. Staff development should provide a mix of three activities. One should be generic sessions that provide common information and skills to all staff.
A second form of staff development should be role- or building-speciflc, addressing the needs of a group of staff. A third form of staff development should include developmental activities such as providing expert inforwation as part of curriculum development, sessions on educational r,Jsearch, and exploratory activities wherein individuals attend cenferences, seminars, or other activities to update their general knowledge.