Look Beyond the Present

Preparing a Christian school for the future is the primary reason to have a strategic plan.  Creating the strategic plan is primarily the responsibility of the board.  A successful strategic plan depends on input from the principal and staff and requires that everyone look beyond the present.

A strategic plan developed 10 years ago is unlikely to have predicted many of the social, economic, political, or technical changes that have happened. However, it could anticipate that changes would occur.  A Christian school might have had a goal in its strategic plan like, “Provide our students with a foundation for stable employment after they enter the workforce.”

For the past 100 years, adaptability has been something every employee has needed.  The need for it has been intensifying during that time.  Similarly, as the world has become more complex, problem solving has become more important. Schools can easily assume that students would have to be better at both of those skills today than they were 10-years ago.  Part of that anticipatory process might be to place an emphasis on honing those skills through a school’s programing.

Today, a school could survey its alumni to see if they have had stable employment since entering the workforce and what could have prevented some from having employment struggles.  Doing that would allow the school to report to its donors on its success.  It would have evidence of its value to its community and parents (stable employment).  The survey would also reveal how to strengthen the programing.  The goal plus the emphasis on particular skills (adaptability and problem solving in this example) help the staff to evolve the programing as the marketplace’s demands for those skills evolve.  The constant evolution plus the look back both contribute to increasing the school’s sustainability as well as helping everyone remain mission focused on fulfilling the promise of the mission statement.

By setting a long-term goal (stable employment), the board is doing its job of preparing the school for the future.  It also causes the staff to look beyond helping the students with academic success toward skills that will enhance their employability.  In combination, the board and staff create a strategic plan that is effective and realistic.  Some of the collateral benefits of the plan and collaboration are increased sustainability, greater value for the community, more durable outcomes for the students, and evidence of success.

It is also important to note that the goal (stable employment) is client centric rather than school centric (well-funded, full enrollment, etc.).  The goal must also be mission centric.  It is certainly a goal that will attract donors, attract families, and set the school apart (provide uniqueness and a competitive advantage).  All of which enhances the long-term sustainability of the school.

Next Step:

Ask your board to revisit your strategic plan and increase its future focus, practicality, and usability

Ask your board to create goals that will increase the value, sustainability, and durability of your student outcomes

Translate the board’s goals into intentional, meaningful, and measureable components of your programing

Ask your donors and parents for their comments on your strategic plan, goals, and programing changes

It is the board’s responsibility with the staff’s help to create the strategic plan.  However, the plan will fail without donor and parental support. Therefore, it is important to share the plan and its major components with the donors and parents.  Changing the plan after the donor and parental review is unlikely to be necessary.  However, it is very likely that you will want to rephrase parts of the plan to increase your donors’ and parents’ understanding, support, and enthusiasm for your mission.

Take It Further:

Use the same process to create a funding strategy where the emphasis is on the donors rather than the money, and the timeframe of the plan is aligned with the needs of the strategic plan

What are the other attributes, beyond adaptability and problem solving, that will help your students succeed in life?


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