Ensure your strategic plan succeeds with your educational partners’ input
September 29, 2023
Strategic planning in education – 3 keys to success.
Effective strategic planning is critical for creating positive change in your district. Among the many benefits, strategic plans align educational partners with a shared vision, mission, and values; promote productive decision-making; and help students reach their full potential.
While having a plan in place will usually improve results, strategic planning can present challenges—resulting in endless meetings, countless goal and tactic revisions, and plans that are never fully realized.
In this post, we explore strategic planning in education, touch on some K-12 planning tips, and share three best practices for making strategic planning successful in your school district. With your community’s insights and the right tools, you can win at strategic planning. Here’s how.
In this Article
What is strategic planning in education, strategic planning tips for k12, see thoughtexchange in action — watch the product tour.
Strategic planning is the process of setting goals, deciding on actions to achieve those goals, and mobilizing the resources needed to take those actions. A strategic plan describes how goals will be achieved using available resources.
While the concept initially stemmed from business practices due to people moving from the private sector into educational leadership positions, many strategic planning tools and paradigms have been adapted to focus on engagement and consensus.
This is because effective strategic planning requires community support at the school district level, both functionally and legislatively. School districts of all sizes use strategic planning to improve student outcomes and respond to changing demographics while staying within the given funding box.
In top-performing schools, leaders have proactively shifted their strategic planning process to include their educational partners. They know that their strategic plans are more likely to succeed with community support and the insights that come with community engagement.
Strategic planning is key to setting students up for success in K-12 and beyond. A solid strategic plan articulates a shared vision, mission, and values, increasing engagement while providing a framework to ensure students’ needs are met so they can reach their full potential.
Your strategic plan will benefit from your district’s input. Here are a few effective ways to engage your district in K-12 strategic planning.
Tap into your educational partners’ wisdom
Your educational partners have valuable insights. Consult teachers, staff, students , parents, and community members throughout the planning process, so your strategy aligns with their perspectives.
Whether you’re setting strategy at the district, school, or department level, consulting diverse participants will uncover unbiased insights, enhance trust and buy-in, and ensure greater success with new strategic directions.
Using ThoughtExchange , leaders can scale their engagement to efficiently and effectively include their community in their district strategic plans.
Use climate surveys
Completed by all students, parents/guardians, and staff, school climate surveys allow leaders to collect participants’ perceptions about issues like school safety, bullying, and mental health and well-being, as well as the general school environment.
ThoughtExchange Surveys get you both nuanced qualitative and robust quantitative data with instant in-depth analysis, ensuring your district understands all angles of school climate. Run surveys independently or combine them with Exchanges for faster, more accurate results.
- Collect benchmark comparisons while tracking and measuring improvements over time
- Gather quality quantitative data for reporting to state agencies or funders
- Identify outliers and trends across demographic groups
Put in some face time with town halls, meetings, or listening tours
In-person gatherings like town halls, meetings, and listening tours are effective ways to understand your educational partners’ wants and needs to ensure they line up with your strategic priorities.
When managed effectively, they give staff and other educational partners the chance to closely interact. In-person gatherings can build trust and morale, promote transparency, and help create a sense of purpose.
Leverage community engagement platforms
Community engagement software lets you streamline your community engagement initiatives. It allows education leaders to gather feedback and get tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people on the same page in just days. It also facilitates candid, collaborative community conversations that help districts realize their goals.
A comprehensive community engagement platform like ThoughtExchange allows you to integrate your strategy with your community and take decisive, supported action in less time. It provides planning, scheduling, and analysis tools to help you quickly set strategy and monitor execution.
3 Keys to Strategic Planning Success
1. get everyone on the same page.
Make sure your educational partners are on the same page by allowing them to contribute to and shape your strategy from the start. Lack of alignment about what strategy involves can hinder even the best plans. So the first step in creating a successful strategic plan is getting everyone involved to provide their insights and opinions.
Letting your people know you’re listening and that their insights affect decisions, builds trust and buy-in. Your community will be much more likely to support—not sabotage—a strategy or decision.
2. Be a Collaborative Leader
According to ThinkStrategic , creating a school strategic plan should always be a collaborative process. Avoiding a top-down approach and getting input from educational partners will help minimize blind spots and unlock collective intelligence. It will also ensure everyone is committed to the plan. Get all community members involved in how to make the most of the school’s possibilities.
Commit to becoming a collaborative leader and put a plan in place to ensure you can achieve that goal. That may include implementing technology that can support scaled, real-time discussion safely and inclusively for students, teachers, and other educational partners.
3. Get a holistic view of your district
Getting a holistic view of your educational partners’ wants and needs helps you build more inclusive, supported strategic plans.
Depend on a platform that meets all your engagement needs in one place—from surveys to Exchanges—and allows you to consult more people in an inclusive, anti-biased environment. You’ll reduce the time and resources spent on town halls and meetings, and reach your district’s goals more efficiently and effectively.
Engagement and survey software has been proven to contribute to more effective strategic planning in education. It empowers leaders to run and scale unbiased engagement initiatives where they can learn what the people who matter really think— explore ThoughtExchange success stories to learn more .
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Educational planning models
The model delineates the three phases of management activity as strategic planning, tactical planning, and control. The processes under strategic planning are identification of problems, definition of policy objectives, and assignment of institutional roles and resources. Tactical planning translates the policy objectives and general allocation of resources into selection of programs, identification of alternative strategies, and developing specific program designs for action. Action, which is a management responsibility, ensures that performance proceeds according to plans, as well as monitors and evaluates results. In the center of this circular model is the information system that takes care of all data and information gathered and used as feedback in decision-making and planning process.
The keen faculty of strategy tends to extract and refine tidings by careful survey of situations and assessment before initial or next moves. This paper discusses strategy formulation and correlates its elements of data synthesis, environmental scanning and SWOT analysis. The assemblage of these constituents of strategy formulation presents challenges of solving a jigsaw puzzle for organizational leadership. Theories of strategy or theories of action, within the context of organizational theories generally contain basic assumptions. These theories propose what to look for, what steps to take and what to expect by organizational leadership. Literature on strategy formulation promotes the trio of environmental scanning, data synthesis and SWOT analysis as tool-kit items for strategy formulation. The paper describes and explains the workings of these three components and draw conclusions on their foundational value in the strategic management process. A simulation exercise is designed for senior executives to practice on the application of strategy formulation in real world situations.
Abstract This report serves as a toolkit to guide Information Technology (IT) Managers in carrying out strategic IT planning in government organizations. It presents process models and detailed descriptions of the various activities and tasks involved in a typical IT strategy exercise in public institutions. The report begins by explaining the concept of strategic planning and why it is an important exercise in achieving organizational-IT alignment.
Managing Forest Ecosystems
Mikko Kurttila , Miika Kajanus
The present study examines a hybrid method for improving the usability of SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. A commonly used decision analysis method, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), and its eigenvalue calculation framework are integrated with SWOT analysis. AHP's connection to SWOT, called here hybrid method A'WOT, yields analytically determined priorities for the factors included in SWOT analysis and makes them commensurable. The aim in applying the hybrid method is to improve the quantitative information basis of strategic planning processes. The hybrid method was tested in connection with Finnish forest industry company on decion making to invest North America. In the case study, the results were presented in an illustrative way by utilizing the quantitative information achieved by the hybrid method. The results indicated that forest industry investment was reasonable in North America. In addition, the needed pairwise comparisons we...
Purpose: The objective of this research is to provide a step by step guide with a mix of tools for managers to align strategic objectives with the business unit project portfolio. Design/methodology/approach: The proposed model is applicable for business units and medium enterprises. It is a sequential model that gives a smooth transition from strategic vigilance to a selection of projects and programs which helps the organization to attain a competitive advantage in industry environment. Based on the most common tools of strategic planning and foresight, the main idea is to generate some sense of sequence and feedback process, in order to select the best ideas for the resource allocation optimization. Findings: When the project portfolio is defined by a set of rules or criteria, the construction of a technology roadmap is the next logical step, not only to classify the projects but to create a path through which the organization can implement them. A methodology to plan all this process was developed. Originality/value: This proposed model helps in the integration of the strategic planning with the step-by-step process at the functional level to run the projects and programs.
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Strategic Planning Models: The 5 Best Strategy Models
New business models, global disruptions, and a need for rapid changes inspired various approaches to strategic planning, also known as strategic planning models.
What all planning models have in common is that they help you translate strategies into action and aim to provide you with structure in the process of creating a strategic plan. But there are now countless frameworks, each with its own approach.
We summarized the 5 most popular strategic planning models in one place so you can start building your own strategic plan in no time.
To get there, let’s explore:
- What is a Strategic Planning Model?
- Planning or strategy: Where to start?
The Cascade Model
The hoshin kanri model, balanced scorecard, strategic planning process model vs strategic frameworks.
- Strategy Model: Which One Is Right For You?
What is a Strategic Planning Model?
A strategic planning model is a collective term for several elements contributing to the strategic planning process . The core components of a strategic planning model include:
- A templated structure for creating strategic goals.
- A loose structure of governance to help you manage and track your strategy.
You can think of strategic planning models as “templates” into which you can drop your own ideas. In the end, you'll come out with a strategic plan which is sensibly structured and gives you a clear strategic roadmap to hit your business goals.
Now that we've defined what a strategic planning model actually is, let's look a bit deeper into each element that one should contain.
2 essential elements of any effective strategic planning model
- Structure refers to the different elements of your strategic plan and how they all fit together. For example, your structure may start with a Vision and Mission Statement, then flow into Values, Focus Areas, and any number of Goal levels.
- Governance refers to how you'll go about actually tracking and reporting on the execution of your strategy.
Planning or strategy: Where to start?
Before we move into the planning section of this article, let’s clarify a common confusion around strategy and strategic planning. What’s the difference and what comes first?
First, do not mistake strategy for a plan. In short, strategy is the act of making strategic choices, while a plan is a roadmap with timelines, owners, and deliverables.
Before laying out your plan, you should get a better understanding of your internal and external business environment so you can make strategic choices and prioritize initiatives.
“ The heart of the strategy is the matched pair of Where-to-Play and How-to-Win. ” - Roger Martin , Bestselling Author and Strategy Advisor
You should always start with strategic analysis. Through this process, you will be able to identify competitive advantage, assess organizational capacity, analyze external factors that might impact your strategy, and find other opportunities you could exploit.
Feel free to use multiple strategic analysis tools since each has its own purpose.
📚Here’s a list of the most popular strategic tools and frameworks that can help you brainstorm your strategy:
- VRIO Framework
- SWOT Analysis
- PESTLE Analysis
- Porter’s Five Forces
- Ansoff Matrix
- McKinsey 7S Model
- Blue Ocean Strategy
Once you have a clear picture of where you want your organization to be in the short-term and long-term future (and where you do NOT want it to be), you can start building a strategic plan that will take you to your destination. And this is where strategic planning models come into play.
Note: Every organization is unique and has different stakeholder needs. Thus, every strategic plan is unique. The goal here is to give you perspective on how you can approach your planning before you dive into the details.
Below, you’ll find examples of strategic planning models that include both Structure & Governance since both are critical to implementing your strategic plan. Because, what's the point in having an awesome strategy on paper if you have no effective way to actually execute it?
The Cascade model is hands-down the most effective example of a strategic planning model that you can find.
It is simple to understand and easy to implement, facilitating the execution of your strategy. Its straightforward structure is suitable for organizations and teams of any size and industry.
Here's a snippet of the structure:
Let's dive into the key elements of the Cascade Strategic Planning Model, its structure and governance.
The structural elements of the Cascade strategic model:
- Identify your vision statement . This statement(s) describes why the organization exists, i.e., its basic purpose.
- Define your company’s values . Describe how you want your organization to behave as it strives towards its Vision.
- Craft your focus areas . They articulate the key areas on which you'll be focusing your efforts to help deliver your Vision.
- Create your objectives . Your strategic objectives define more specifically the outcomes you want to achieve under each of your Focus Areas.
- Define your KPIs . Each of your Objectives should contain at least one or two KPIs to help you measure whether or not you're close to reaching your desired outcomes (Objectives).
- Create your projects . These are one of the most critical elements in your strategic planning model, as they state exactly what actions you will take to deliver against your Objectives.
The governance elements of the Cascade strategic model:
- Monthly Strategic Reports . Team members can create reports at the objective, team, individual, KPI, and action levels. Using Cascade, users can add text, charts, and tables to their reports to provide more context for the reader.
- Project Updates. These are ad hoc updates made against the Project level of the plan and include general project management updates and progress.
- KPI Dashboards. In addition to providing real-time data, they allow users to look back and understand what happened over time using data sources that are available. Live dashboards are essential for identifying deviations from KPI tolerance levels, explaining the difference, and setting an action plan to resolve the issue.
When you combine the goal and the governance elements of this strategic planning model, you get a comprehensive set of tools that you can use not just for creating your plan but also for executing it.
📚 Recommened reading:
- How To Write A Strategic Plan + Example
- 18 Free Strategic Plan Templates (Excel & Cascade) 2023
The Hoshin Kanri model is a strategic planning model that organizations use to drive a consistent focus throughout many levels of their structure.
This makes it ideal for large organizations with different layers of management, including “top-level” executive management, “middle managers,” and “front-line” staff.
Much of the work we did to create the Cascade Strategic Model was inspired by Hoshin Kanri.
So it's certainly a strategic planning model that we respect and admire here at Cascade. Let's dive into the detail of the Hoshin strategic planning model with a quick visual:
The structural elements of the Hoshin Kanri strategic model:
- The first level of the Hoshin Kanri strategic planning model refers to your vision . A distant horizon that will guide everything that sits beneath.
- Then you move on to your 3-5 Year Strategies . These are high-level summaries of what you want to achieve (qualitatively and quantitatively).
- Beneath that, you define Annual Objectives , which will be split between different departments.
- Finally, you determine your Action Items . They are specific things you are going to do to reach your Annual Objectives.
The governance elements of the Hoshin Kanri strategic model:
- Monthly Reviews . These are done against the Annual Objectives and require the goals' owners to provide descriptive progress updates.
- Annual Reviews . These are also done against the Annual Objectives. However, they happen at the end of the time period and encompass a decision point on whether to mark the Annual Objective as complete or roll it over into another year.
There are many different ways to implement the Hoshin Kanri strategic planning model. Above is a simplified explanation that covers most of the core elements.
- Hoshin Kanri: Close Strategy Execution Gap In 7 Steps
OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)
The OKR model is a goal-setting and planning framework that focuses on quarterly sets of OKRs and is reviewed by every management level in the organization.
The basic structure of the OKR strategic planning model looks something like this:
As with the Cascade Strategic Planning Model and Hoshin Kanri, the OKR strategy model has the following key elements.
The structural elements of the OKRs strategic model:
- Objectives. These describe the outcome you are looking for in the current quarter.
- Key Results. These are specific metrics that describe your progress toward your Objective in numerical terms.
- Initiatives. These are tasks or projects that sit against each of your Key Results. Once completed, they should help you reach your Key Results.
The governance elements of the OKRs strategic model:
- Weekly Check-Ins. Each Key Result should have a weekly check-in that covers your confidence level in achieving that OKR, action plan, and general progress updates.
- Quarterly Review. For each Objective, a formal quarterly review should be undertaken where that OKR is given a “score” (usually from 0 to 1) and a decision is made on what to do with that OKR in the next quarter.
- OKRs: How To Avoid The Trap That Kills Performance
- The OKR Framework: How To Implement It & Mistakes To Avoid
- Using Cascade as your OKR Software
Balanced scorecard (also known as BSC) helps organizations drive and assess business performance by organizing key performance indicators (KPIs) into four focus areas: Financial, Customer, Internal Processes, and Learning & Growth.
Here is an example of a basic Balanced Scorecard structure:
The structural elements of the Balanced Scorecard:
- Four perspectives that act as your focus areas.
- Strategic objectives where you define your desired outcomes.
- Projects that outline specific initiatives, timelines, and resources.
- KPIs that measure progress and success.
The governance elements of Balanced Scorecard:
- Strategy dashboards where you should see the real-time status of each perspective and a summary of your key objectives, projects, and KPIs.
- Weekly or Monthly reports where each owner provides progress updates and short-term action plans.
- The strategy map shows how are four perspectives layered and cause-and-effect connections between strategic objectives.
- How To Implement The Balanced Scorecard Framework (With Examples)
- Balanced Scorecard Template (Free)
V2MOM is one of the most simple strategic planning and alignment models out there. Developed by Salesforce's cofounder, Marc Benioff, it helps you implement and drive alignment across your organization.
The model can be used in a variety of organizations, including small businesses, startups, and nonprofits.
As a top-down approach, V2MOM scales across your organization at all levels, including the business unit, department, team, or individual. However, this model won't work if your organization is siloed, as each V2MOM document should be aligned with the top-level V2MOM plan.
An example of a basic V2MOM structure would look like this:
The structural elements of the V2MOM:
- Vision. Like with the Cascade Model, this is where you define your vision of the future.
- Values. A set of values that drive your company’s culture.
- Methods . Strategic objectives, projects, or other strategic initiatives that will help your organization get one step closer to its vision.
- Obstacles. Compared to other models, this is a unique element. It should identify all possible obstacles and risks that can prevent you execute the plan.
- Measures. A set of KPIs that will measure your performance and progress.
The governance elements of V2MOM:
The original V2MOM approach only outlines the structure, but it does not offer a solution to track and measure performance. To meet the needs of our clients, we leveled up V2MOM to help teams measure their performance against set goals in a strategy execution platform :
- Customizable strategy dashboards where leadership teams and team members can get insight into what’s happening across the organization or with specific initiatives.
- Reports that analyze in-depth raw data of the past, and turns it into actionable narratives for regular review meetings and faster decision-making.
📚 Recommended reading:
- The V2MOM: Overview, How To Use It, Examples (2022)
It's important to distinguish between strategy frameworks and strategic planning models before you jump into the strategic planning process. Online resources use these terms interchangeably, but they are in fact quite different.
Strategic planning models provide a way to structure the information of your strategy and the content of your strategic plan.
Strategic frameworks , including analysis tools, provide the context that surrounds your strategic plan, and the information that helps you define your strategy.
There are a few different views on this subject, but here is what we think makes the most sense:
- A strategic framework is a general term that covers different types of frameworks, including strategic analysis frameworks, goal-based frameworks, and strategic planning frameworks (in this case, also called strategic planning models).
- A strategic planning model refers to the overall structure you apply to your strategic planning process. It roughly describes the various components and how they interact with one another. For example, imagine an architect building an airport.
A model of the airport would show you at a high level how the approach roads connect to the departure hall and how the departure hall connects to immigration, which then connects to the terminals, the runways, etc.
A strategic planning model functions much the same way in that it describes each of the elements of a coherent strategy: what they do, how they fit together, and in what order.
Strategy Model: Which One Is Right For You? 👀
The examples of strategic planning models we've picked have a lot in common. There's a good reason for it.
The best strategic planning models are simple, contain all the right elements, and combine goal setting with governance.
As a result, they serve you well when it comes to building a highly effective strategic management process and executing your strategy.
You can't really go wrong with any of the strategic planning model examples we've outlined above: Cascade Model, Balanced Scorecard, V2MOM, Hoshin Kanri, or OKRs.
In the Cascade strategy execution platform , you can import or create a strategic plan no matter the model you use since our strategic planning tool is sophisticated enough to customize it to your way of doing strategy.
Interested in seeing Cascade in action? Start building your strategic plan for free or book a demo with a Cascade expert.
What is the difference between strategic planning and strategic management?
The main difference between strategic planning and strategic management is that strategic planning is just a stage within the strategic management process.
What are the 5 models of strategic management?
There are more than five models of strategic management. A strategic management process involves multiple stages, including strategic analysis, strategy formulation, strategy execution, and strategy evaluation. There are multiple models and frameworks suitable for each stage of the strategic process.
Horizontal Vs Vertical Strategic Alignment
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Review of Strategic Planning Model in Higher Education: The OMC Model
The concept of strategic planning has extensively been used to formulate institutional objectives of higher education institutions into time bound deliverables. Although there is a general agreement on the conceptual note on the strategic planning process, the differences are conspicuous in its internal process of transformation from strategic formulation to implementation. Consequently, models that apply to higher education institutions have been drawn up in the management sciences in the last quarter of the twentieth century. However, the format for institutional review of strategic planning is still in its infancy although its review constitutes a conspicuous phase of institutional planning. The foregoing discussion is intended to prescribe a general format for an institutional review of a strategic planning model. It runs on the hypothesis that the review has three phases, though not mutually exclusive, viz. review of the framework, review of the process, and review of the outcome. The paper under discussion is an attempt to develop a new logical framework for the review of the strategic plan of an educational institution. The model is labelled as the OMC model as it was developed for and subsequently used in Oman Medical College.
International Journal of Business Administration ISSN 1923-4007(Print) ISSN 1923-4015(Online)
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Library information, an analysis of prevailing k-12 educational strategic planning models, citation metadata, document controls.
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Gale Document Number: GALE|A124940267
- Educational planning
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