This week we led a School Growth Innovation Workshop for the Georgia Association of Independent Schools. Like every other public and private school association across the globe, Executive Director Jeff Jackson, his leadership team, and his board are wisely taking the time to assess the value proposition of the organization to determine the best path forward.
What do schools need from an association today?
How does the association remain relevant and focused in the midst of such changing times?
What are the highest priorities going forward?
How can we build momentum for the association through innovation?
GISA opted for the School Growth Innovation Workshop (a 3-4 hour experience) over the School Growth Innovation Lab (a 2-day program) because of the large number of commitments they already have planned for this quarter of 2014. Their upcoming annual conference features an outstanding array of speakers and presenters, and they have some focus group research planned as well. The Workshop helped them refine the goals for the current quarter, and eliminate distractions that could keep them from success. After celebrating the achievements of the next 60+ days, they intend to renew their plans with a full Innovation Lab.
Creating a sense of community is core to the mission of the association. During the GISA Innovation Workshop we explored the target market in the state, how to segment the different types of schools and school leaders, and what characteristics were most important in defining the brand. We considered the types of people who are fully engaged with the mission of the organization and how to enable them to share their stories with other like-minded leaders. Building profitable relationships is a key part of the GISA value proposition.
Incumbent on every association is the expectation for growing membership. In small working teams we considered potential initiatives that would increase support from current members and support recruitment of new schools. This entails re-evaluating the brand and marketing of the association, to build on the reputation of the organization in it's support for independent schools. Achieving growth will require focus on those relationship cultivation activities that produce the best results, and eliminating those duties that do not contribute to this priority. That's one of the hardest parts of innovation--not doing those things that have become habits but don't contribute enough to the desired value for clients.
The advantage of our proprietary Innovation Plan is the high degree of focus that is achieved. It's actually fun to have agreement and unity around goals. Ample research data demonstrates that organizations with the discipline to adhere to a strategic focus have a significant and sustainable competitive advantage. This is especially true for schools where the leadership is inundated with "crisis" situations of varying degree. What is the core passion of your association, district, or school? That's where the innovation process begins, describing the compelling purpose, values, mission, vision, etc. What initiatives could be achieved in the next 90-days to build on the value proposition and learn from the target market? What will this organization be the best in the world at delivering? GISA leadership now has three micro goals and two macro goals that will build strong momentum going into 2015.
Key comment following the GISA Innovation Workshop session: "I can't believe we have such clear direction after just 4 hours. Now we have goals that the board and the leadership team can deliver and measure. I love it!"