Be an “Implementor”

Posted on April 14, 2016

Engaging in a strategic planning process as a school is an exciting process. Sure, there are moments when you feel overwhelmed by adding another layer of responsibility to your already full plate of teaching, coaching, and advising, but overall, working alongside your board of trustees and others to develop a strategic plan is invigorating.

As you collectively uncover your strengths and weaknesses, your community is simultaneously drawn together and pushed apart. It is healthy tension that forces you to make difficult decisions as an institution in order to refine your identity and strengthen your brand. But what happens when this planning process is over?

Too often, fruitful conversations turn into just that: conversations. A nice .pdf of your strategic plan populates your website next to your mission statement. A vision for the future has been established, but the road map to make tangible progress toward that vision is not yet drawn? How do you implement long-term vision when short-term challenges block your ability to see beyond next week?

In order to implement strategy, you need to make sure you have implementors on your team who understand both the long-term vision and the short-run steps necessary to make progress toward that vision.



Here are a few keys to the implementation phase of your strategic plan:

1) Carve out time to get yourself out of the weeds and to think strategically

This is far harder than it sounds given the varying roles you often hold at an independent school, but it is absolutely essential to effectively implementing a strategic plan. If you are able to carve out even 10% of your time each week to pause and revisit strategic goals, you will shift your approach to the other 90% of the time you spend. Connections between initiatives will become apparent and efficiencies created as you remind yourself of the big picture.

2) Bite-sized progress is still progress

You have to start making progress toward implementing your strategic plan at some point. Too many of us wait for everything to be ‘done’ to start making progress, but the reality is a strategic plan is never ‘done’. Having the confidence and willingness to start implementing your strategy when questions remain unanswered helps you move the needle in the right direction. Often, as you produce content and forge ahead with projects, those lingering questions no one wants to answer are forced to the forefront. Someone needs to push the conversation forward and there is no better way to do so than through action, even if a project seems small and insignificant.

3) Leverage expertise

Each school’s leadership team and board of trustees is filled with talent. Leverage it as you seek to implement. We all have egos and when we allow our egos to get in the way of progress, we are doing our school, and ourselves a disservice. We too often feel as though we should be able to answer all the questions thrown our way, and interpret asking for help as a sign of weakness when in reality it is the exact opposite. Asking for help and reaching out to those with expertise is a sign of confidence, and ultimately shows far more competence than pretending you know all the answers. Do not let your ego get in the way of being an implementer!

Ultimately, schools need implementers within their faculty and staff. Be one of those people who value the implementation of the strategic plan as much as the conversations that developed it. Your school needs you.

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