The end of the year is here, and it’s time for two of our favorite things: holiday traditions and strategic planning. No kidding! Nothing goes better together than How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a productive strategic planning process. Whether you enjoy strategic planning or hate it, strategic plans—done and used effectively—can give your company a competitive advantage.
Successful K-12 education companies know strategic planning is like routing for a long driving trip. They know where they want to end up. They intentionally determine how to get there. They check progress regularly, so they can change plans based on new information along the way.
To get started on your next strategic planning journey, read on for more!
Secret #1: An effective strategic plan fosters your vision, mission, and values.
Throughout the year, it’s easy to get distracted by shiny objects, new ideas, or right-in-front-of-us problems. These can lead a team or company off track.
Annual planning is a good opportunity to take a step back and see the big picture. Successful K–12 education companies use this time to revisit their vision, mission, and values–to remember why they are in this business, what they’re striving to create, and what’s important to them. This frames the strategic planning work and guides the team to create a plan that stays true to the organization.
Secret #2: An effective strategic plan clearly shows how you measure success.
Some strategic plans are nothing more than a big-time to-do list: implement a new CRM, add to our sales team, update our website, launch a new product, etc. This can leave the organization disconnected. It can also leave the organization focused on “doing stuff” rather than creating outcomes.
Effective annual planning answers these questions: What do we want to be able to say about our company at the end of the year? How do we know we’ve “arrived”? These goals should be measurable, such as increasing customer retention by 15%, increasing overall company profit by 10%, etc.
Secret #3: An effective strategic plan gets your entire company working together.
Some strategic planning is based on what each core function has planned for the year ahead. What is marketing’s strategy? What is the sales plan? What is next on the products & services roadmap? This can create a situation where each department is siloed and “rowing their own boat.”
A better approach is a strategic plan that gets the entire organization around three key things: a common objective(s), shared goals, and cross-functional strategies. This can create a few key benefits for your K–12 education company:
More momentum around company objective(s)
Secret #4: An effective strategic plan is a purposeful, visible tool for growth and change.
Often strategic planning is a “Set it and forget it” approach. A team of people get together and create a plan–and then never (or rarely) look at it the rest of the year. A presentation is made to the organization and never referred to again.
Successful K–12 education companies use their strategic plan as a guide for the year. They review it at regular intervals, both to stay clear on the big picture and to create focus for short-term planning. They use the language and success measures of the strategic plan consistently. This help keep the entire organization “rowing the boat together” all year long.
In your experience, what else makes strategic planning more effective?