How Did Strategic Planning Become Engaging and Relevant?
Here we are in School District 63 Saanich at the tail end of a five year strategic plan. Guess what that means? Yup, build another plan. Ho hum, right? Maybe not. Here are five ways in which planning for the five year period 2016-2020 will be different from planning for the previous five year period.
- Being able to feature 2020. This may be trite, but we get to have a five year plan that targets 2020, so we get to call it the 2020 Project! How cool is that.
- Enhanced opportunity to engage with community. There are a few reasons why the creation of our new strategic plan will create more engagement than when we built the last one. One reason is that we have labour peace, and that contributes to a different sense of engagement for teachers and support staff. That said, there is a lot to do this year with curriculum implementation so we have to be cautious about pushing too hard. Another thing that works in our favour in terms of engagement is that we can spread the word, and engage in school and community dialogue, more efficiently given advances in digital communication and online engagement. We can expect more people, more rich dialogue, and more data points, and therefore a more relevant and current plan this time around. We will, of course, as always, build our dialogue around community forum events. There is nothing like a series of well facilitated school/community forums to get the juices flowing.
- An interactive web-based product. Four years ago we built a plan that, while vibrant and relevant, was packaged in a glossy booklet that sat on shelves and a pdf version of the plan that sat just as idly on our website. But now, as one of our principals said in a steering committee meeting, “Why can’t we build a plan that is alive on our website, with hot links to what a particular goal looks like and how we are doing? It could look like the new curriculum documents where a click on a core competency or big idea link gets you up to date and interactive information.” Why can’t we indeed. In fact, we will. The 2020 plan will be live and interactive, and hopefully therefore that much more relevant.
- The ability to monitor, track and publicize progress. Another benefit afforded by technology is the ability to track our progress on an ongoing basis, whether of our own accord or by using plan monitoring software like Envisio. A live and relevant strategic plan can also have live and relevant updates on how we are doing. Not only will you be able to click to learn more about, for example, student learning in key domains, or successes of Indigenous learners, or energy management, but another click gives you a live update on how we are doing in relation to those goals. No more waiting for the annual spreadsheet overview of progress against goals (talk about a shelf occupier); instead, a vibrant real-time indicator of progress in relation to priorities.
- An opportunity to focus on image and brand. We are pretty sure that we have a solid image, message and brand in Saanich, but building a new strategic plan allows us to ask questions about how we look to our changing world. What is our presence? What do people know about us? What are their first impressions? Are we seen as relevant and inviting? Is our front-end material (logo, mission, etc.) compelling? Is our motto relevant? Are our colours and images current or are they outdated? As we wrestle with these questions we may find that everything is as it should be. But I think not. I think we will be able to recreate our message to the world and to our community. Re-brand if you will. An exciting notion.
These opportunities, to leverage technologies for process and product, to engage people in quality dialogue in person and online, to build a live web-based interactive plan, and to create a modern image or brand, raise the crazy prospect of strategic planning actually being fun, engaging and relevant.
If you care to follow along, look for us on our Twitter account, our YouTube channel or our district website. We have some very good people working on connecting all of this to the world through the web. Onward with optimism.