The Ten C’s For Effectively Implementing Your Strategic Plan

  1. Consult widely in framing strategic direction.  Engagement in the planning process leads to a greater sense of ‘ownership’ of the plan itself.  Involve as many stakeholders as possible in the initial consultation phase.  Circulate the draft plan for comment, especially from those stakeholders most likely to be affected by the plan.  Genuinely appreciate the feedback you receive.  Be transparent in using the feedback to modify the plan.
  2. Champion the plan.  Enthusiasm is contagious.  If the Principal and Board are not evangelistic in endorsing the plan, and if the plan slips from consciousness after twelve months, odds are that it will fail to be implemented.  There must be an extraordinary level of support at the highest level for all elements of the plan.
  3. Commit to the plan wholeheartedly.  The test of commitment to any plan is the extent to which the organisation is prepared to put resources behind it.  As the saying goes, ‘If you are not prepared to back it, sack it!’  If a plan is inadequately resourced either in terms of human or financial resources implementation will be patchy, the sense of achievement will be lower and the likelihood of fulfilling the vision much less.  People will judge the leader’s commitment to the plan by the level of investment in the plan.
  4. Communicate the plan clearly and concisely.  Constantly remind stakeholders of where the school is heading as a result of the plan.  Keep the message simple and avoid jargon.  The role of the leader is to put the plan into words because those are the words people will use to talk about the plan.
  5. Capture the strategic focus of your plan in a catch cry.  Every plan needs a theme to galvanise the community it affects.  Develop this core theme into a ‘catch cry’ e.g. “Closing the Gap” if the focus is on improving the success of average students or “From first class to world class” if the focus is on establishing an international presence for the school.
  6. Cascade the plan down through the school.  Every faculty or department must be encouraged to weave the core elements of the school’s strategic plan into their own strategic or operational plans.  Faculty heads must be challenged to think about how their vision for their faculty reflects the vision for the school as a whole.
  7. Connect the plan to staff and students’ and stakeholders’ daily lives.  Every day remind people of the key elements of the plan, their particular role in fulfilling the vision and reinforce the positive effects the plan is having on people at the personal and professional level.
  8.  Check on progress regularly.  An axiom of strategy implementation goes along the lines of, ‘What you can measure you can manage.’  Regularly review progress. Are milestones being met; are outcomes being achieved; are targets being reached?  In schools it is easier to measure inputs than outputs but it is only by measuring outputs that you will gain a sense of whether the vision is being fulfilled.
  9. Course corrections may be necessary.  It is not a sign of inadequate planning if changes are needed to the plan.  A plan must be responsive to changing conditions; leaders must be adaptable in following a path to the future.  In implementing a plan ‘sticking to your guns’ is not always a sound leadership principle.
  10. Celebrate success.  Take time to recognise major achievements in the school and always tie them back to fulfilment of the plan’s goals or objectives.  Publicly praise people for achievements in relation to the plan.  Every teacher knows the power of positive reinforcement as a key element of behavioural psychology.  Positive reinforcement is as effective in motivating people to implement a plan as it is in motivating students to improve their performance.

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