Selecting your focus sounds intuitive, but it’s no easy feat. Nick Tasler’s newest Harvard Business Review blog, “Three Myths that Kill Strategic Planning,” reminds us that strategic thinking is harder than simply listing all the important goals that an organization aspires to attain. He suggests that selecting which goals to focus on and which actions will contribute most effectively to achieving those goals is the true challenge of strategic planning. As Tasler puts it, “debating about what’s important is futile. Strategic thinkers must decide where to focus, not merely what’s ‘important.’ Strategic leaders must consciously table some ‘important’ projects or ignore some ‘important’ opportunities.” So, what does this mean for school districts?
We recently visited with our partners in Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District, where Superintendent Brad Saron and his senior leaders are selecting their focus strategically. They have invited stakeholder participation to prioritize what’s most important and define a common vision for student success in Chippewa Falls. They are aligning this vision with Wisconsin’s demands for school district accountability as well as local School Board policies on results, evaluation, and operational excellence.
Leaders in Chippewa Falls exhibit determination to identify a few, key outcomes that will resonate with their community and prepare students for lifelong success. This leadership team is deeply engaged in what Tasler describes as “figuring out which things are the right things.” We are excited about our opportunity to collaborate with Superintendent Saron and his team to identify goals, measures, and strategic actions that can be cascaded to every department and every school to drive continuous district progress towards their aim of “excellence in education for a changing tomorrow.”