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World Record School Strategic Planning Session?

Posted by Scott Barron on May 7, 2014 2:55:44 PM
Scott Barron

A world record innovation session for school leaders? A world record innovation session for school leaders?

Last week we hosted a half-day Innovation Lab program for 40 schools at the same time! Could that be a world record for the largest number of schools in a single strategic planning session? We'll let you know what the officials at Guinness World Records determine.

In about three hours we guided these talented school administrators through a Readers Digest condensed version of our patent-pending School Growth Innovation Lab methodology. Even though they were receiving a large volume of information at a record pace, the group was engaged throughout with great questions and insights. Enthusiasm was contagious as we explored growth strategies for short- and long-term success. Most importantly, they left with three important tools to help them build a culture of innovation in their buildings that can produce results even before the start of the next school year.

Business Model Canvas

This one page strategic plan provides a simple yet powerful way to define your vision. We discussed ways to identify and segment each school's target market, and suggestions for creating a unique value proposition that will attract more inquiries and applicants for enrollment. Key activities and resources were also reviewed, along with options for building and deepening relationships with families.

90-Day Innovation Plan

Discipline is the key to effective innovation, so we trained our group on how to define micro and macro initiatives for building momentum. As you might expect, macro initiatives are more complex, have a broader impact, consume more resources, and carry greater risk than micro goals. Using a 90-day approach enables the school to develop a rhythm for change and improvement--what Jim Collin's referred to as, "The Twenty-Mile March," in his book Great by Choice. Such a disciplined schedule reduces the pressure to operate by the "Idea of the Week" that complicates the leadership style of some, and it also allows more efficient use of resources. The participants in our planning session discussed some innovation initiatives and how they might move those ideas forward in their organizations.


Our planning session concluded with an online Google Hangout conversation with a school head who completed his first Innovation Plan January - March of this year, and is now leading his team through a second cycle of improvement. In the first quarter they completed three micro initiatives and one macro innovation that is already producing the desired results. One of their micro goals was to define a teacher coaching rubric that provides clear expectations for performance, which they accomplished through a collaborative dialogue with teachers and staff. The macro goal was to reorganize the leadership structure of the entire school in order to improve the culture and communications.

Some of these schools will use the information and tools provided in this expedited session to immediately begin implementation of innovation options over the summer. A few more serious leaders will enroll in the School Growth Innovation Lab for private and public schools scheduled for June 2-3 in Atlanta because they want to accelerate through the learning curve to increase quality and competitiveness now!

As we were planning this large session, I wasn't sure how it would be received. The feedback, however was very positive! The subsequent emails from these school administrators expressed a rejuvenated spirit with a passion for innovative leadership, even in May as the end of year activities are stretching them thin. We will be following up with them over the next few months to gauge their progress and collect some data to improve our process.

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