At this time of year many schools are embarking on, or planning to embark on, a strategic planning process to identify their way forward for the next one to five years.
Put simply, strategy describes what we want to achieve over time and how we will do it.
That is certainly an important but difficult thing to do in such unpredictable times. I recently came across the work of Strategy guru Rosie Yeo in her book Go For Bold: How to Create Powerful Strategy in Uncertain Times.
Strategic planning is about setting the direction by identifying priorities, analysing opportunities, weighing up and mitigating the risks and making bold decisions. In the book Yeo highlights the importance of open thinking (not narrowing too quickly on one option), careful analysis and clarity before making decisions. When the right strategies are actioned, they can change organisations and lives for the better, so it’s worth getting strategy right. However, the best strategy in the world has no value until it’s implemented.
COVID has had a huge impact on schools and we were forced into a survival and reactive mode where our strategic direction became something that we’d worry about in the future. In the book Yeo provides another perspective – “There’s always been uncertainty about the future – always. We’ve never been able to control everything: we just used to think we could!”
She argues that it is vital that we reach shared, powerful agreements about our long game, because that is how our organisations will maintain the resilience to keep moving forward despite upheaval.
In the book Yeo describes the three key elements that are essential to create bolder, more powerful strategy: creativity, clarity and consensus.
Making clear decisions is the boldest, most important thing we need to do in strategy. However, this is often hard to achieve because it can be difficult to get people to agree. According to Yeo this can be for a range of reasons including, people might be comfortable doing what they’ve always done and don’t want to change: different point of views may produce divergent opinions: and sometimes other issues or conflicts outside the room impact on people’s willingness to agree on something together.
According to Yeo, “To become powerful, your strategy needs three core elements: it needs to be a great idea, it needs a clear pathway for how to bring the great idea to life, and there needs to be a shared story. People understand and are committed to both the great idea and how to achieve it.” Your strategic plan will be powerful if you can deliver these elements.
Go For Bold provides guidance and a framework that supports you and your team to look further ahead, think smarter and make better decisions for long-term benefit. I’d highly recommend reading Go For Bold.