The Best Five Tips for Successful Strategic Planning
Be clear about your vision. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, you can’t make decisions about how you’re going to get there. One of the key attributes of successful schools is that they have a well-articulated vision that all members of the school community are aware of and believe in. It is worthwhile spending time to get your vision ‘right’ because all later strategic planning decisions depend on whether or not the actions arising from the plan are consistent with the vision.
Be strategic. This tip is so obvious that it is almost ridiculous; however, a great deal of strategic planning gets bogged down in detail rather than looking at the bigger picture. There are many operations in the day-to-day running of a school that remain relatively constant; for example, attention to student safety, the curriculum, the co-curricular program. Unless you intend to change one of these operational areas, they should not be part of your strategic planning process. Rather, your strategic planning should deal with key strategic questions and issues. That is, the issues on which school effectiveness, student outcomes and the school’s viability depends.
Be collaborative. A plan won’t work if people aren’t out there making it happen. People won’t work with any enthusiasm on a plan they don’t ‘own’. The more members of the school community involved in the development of the plan, the more ‘buy-in’ you’ll have and the more people who will be motivated to make the plan work. At the very least, school staff, students and parents should be involved in some stage of the development of your strategic plan. You might also consider involving local business people, the local community, old scholars and any other relevant people.
Be specific. Key strategic goals need to be SMART. That is they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited.
Specific means they should be clear and able to be understood by all, including those not involved in the process.
Measurable means they should articulate the desired outcome, not the specific strategies. For example, not ‘improve student outcomes’ but ‘raise benchmarks testing results by 10% by the end of the year’.
Achievable means that the goal should be rigorous and cause stretching but it also should be possible to reach. People will soon lose interest in a goal they can never attain.
Realistic, is similar to achievable. They is no point in setting a goal that ‘all students will receive 100% in the end of year exam’ when clearly the only way this might be achieved is by setting a test so simple that anyone could do it – but it would hardly encourage good teaching or learning!
Time-limited means that the goal has an end, and that the end is not so far into the future as to be meaningless. All goals need to yield some results by the end of the strategic planning period, and preferably there should also be some short-term goals leading towards the bigger goal as well.
Be flexible. No strategic plan should be ‘set in stone’. On the contrary, plans should be regularly revisited, revised and reviewed in order to accommodate changes in the internal and external environment and to respond quickly to education policy changes and external environment trends.