CHARTING A COURSE TO FOLLOW
You have the wheel. Where are you going? Many leaders are thrust into new roles without direction or the accompanying new skills. In education, the problem is more acute given the dearth of leaders in the pipeline. The absence of a performance management system in most school districts further exacerbates the problem. Plans, particularly well thought out plans that are strategic, measurable, and driven by a mission, provide direction. Here is an example. Providing direction is a primary function of leadership. Strategic planning is a primary function of providing direction.
“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
― Lewis Carroll
Students of leadership are smart to study strategic planning. Its disciplinary identity is rooted in business management and psychology, two disciplines that leaders must understand if they are to successfully lead a strategic planning process. As education leadership has gradually grown more nuanced, it has become clear to me as a member of the education leadership faculty at CSU, Fullerton and a Superintendent of Schools, that highly skilled leaders capable of leading change are in short supply and high demand. If you want to test my theory, take a close look at your school district's or organization's strategic plan. Is it communicating a powerful message with well defined expectations about direction, priorities, and adult behaviors? Is it driving spending and connecting it to the organization's mission? If it's not, then it's a typical strategic plan that likely is gathering more dust than disciples. It also is likely to have been created for the sake of having a plan, developed without deeply understanding the organization's culture or focusing on results. It's probably not systematically measurable either. Strategic planning is an exploration of leadership. The entire process from start to finish, from development to implementation, is a cross-disciplinary journey that exemplifies the vibrancy of leadership. It's a living document that not only shapes behavior, it changes it. Read a series of essays on the topic here. Contact me when your organizational culture is not functioning as a competitive advantage. Strategic planning may be exactly what you need.