By: Dana Britt and Natalie Hall on May 27th, 2020
Using Your Strategic Plan to Keep Your Stakeholders Informed and Engaged During Times of Change
Strategic Planning | District Leadership
One of our favorite expressions is that the only constant thing in life is change, which today’s global crisis affirms for us each day. For some of us, we don’t know beyond the next two weeks whether schools will be open or not. We don’t know what classes will look like in the fall (maybe virtual? maybe an A day/B day schedule to reduce the number of kids in the building at one time?). We may not know if all of our students are safe and accounted for, let alone if they have access to a device and broadband connection.
All of this uncertainty and lack of information can feel paralyzing. As leaders, we may feel like we cannot make decisions or share too much information with our stakeholders because the data we have could quickly be out of date or incorrect. Wouldn’t it be better to just delay?
Plan for Change, Not Perfection
We at Education Elements believe in the power of strategic plans to serve as a north star in times of chaos, rather than sitting dusty and forgotten on the shelf. Here’s why:
- In times of change, leaders need to make a lot of quick decisions and evaluate important trade-offs. If the mission, vision, and/or values of your strategic plan are top of mind, you will be able to quickly determine which initiatives or decisions to prioritize. Run the decision through this mental test–does moving in this direction help us live out our mission, vision, values, or pillars of our strategic plan?
- During the crisis, you are likely engaging with stakeholders in a more deep and meaningful way than you imagined as you pass out meals, arrange car caravans to drive past houses, or have a window into their homes through virtual meetings and instruction. Are there ways you can use these opportunities for stakeholder engagement to move forward the work of your strategic plan in ways you hadn’t imagined? Is the “why” of your mission and vision even more relevant now, just as your ability to live out your values every day has increased?
How do we utilize our strategic plan to keep stakeholders informed and engaged?
Aim for Safe Enough to Try
We have developed two downloadable templates that district and school leaders can use to update their boards, staff, and community members on their strategic plan priorities. The first template provides an overall view of all of the strategic plan initiatives, bucketed into the following four categories:
You can use the second template to provide a deeper-dive update on one or more key initiatives.
This is the first of many blog posts and sets of tools that we are creating at Education Elements to help your team prepare for the upcoming school year in the midst of continued uncertainty.
- We will share responsive planning tools and mindsets to prepare your team for multiple scenarios as you Return through the lenses of the New School Rules + New Team Habits.
- Let’s Reimagine learning together and use this time as an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the way we support learning, teaching and our community to be equitable.
- We will only grow if we Revamp our core, learning from the initial response to the crisis to build organizational preparedness and reprioritize strategies to keep improving.
If you are interested in creating a detailed return plan together, check out our guide, How to Design a Responsive Return Plan - and let’s schedule a chat!
About Dana Britt and Natalie Hall
Dana Britt is an Associate Partner focused on leading innovation in the state of New York. Prior to joining Education Elements in 2015, she worked in the District of Columbia Public Schools for six years, first as a high school English teacher, then in the district office as the manager of educational technology. In that role, she supported the district-level rollout of blended learning across 111 schools and built up a particular expertise in designing district-wide professional development and selecting, purchasing, and adopting new digital content and tools. At Education Elements, Dana has supported schools over 100 schools in 16 states. She has led the implementations of Fulton County Schools (GA), Syracuse City School District (NY), Marion Central School District (NY), and Waterloo Central School District (NY). Natalie Hall is a Design Principal on the Design and Implementation Team. Natalie comes to Education Elements with experience as a middle school reading and ELA teacher, and as a consultant in the private sector. After teaching for two years in Houston TX, she transitioned out of the classroom in hopes of building a foundation in her consulting skill set. Now living in Washington, DC, she worked with Kaiser Associates--a boutique strategy firm--on engagements supporting federal and commercial clients in their goals of making more informed strategic and operational decisions. With the goal of marrying her passion for education with her now well-established consulting background, she comes to Education Elements with an excitement to partner with school and district leadership to develop strategic plans and sustained organizational changes.