ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

November 1998


Xerox Documents Success

Soup's On

The Power Of Senior Teams

The Talk Around The Office


Total Quantity Management
by Peter Block

New Tools For Business Success
by Gregory P. Smith


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review


Views For A Change

Jim Harrington answers:
I am surprised that you have asked about how to evaluate the impact of strategic planning at Hopkins School District. If the impact is not obvious then either you did it wrong or it did not work. I would hope that with any strategic planning process as well as any new improvement initiative you would define the impact that the initiative should have upon the organization, the new behavioral patterns that will develop and how both will be measured before the project is undertaken. In your case, you should have defined the results at the end of each year’s cycle so that you could correct the process if it was not meeting objectives. For example, typical things that you could be measuring are:

By weighing each measurement you can calculate a combined percentage improvement each year and by setting your performance target for each measurement, you can track the progress of each measurement per year. If the improvement rate in these key measurements is not significantly improved as a result of implementing strategic planning or at a very minimum has not improved enough to offset the costs of doing the strategic planning, it’s a waste of time and money.

Based upon your question, you may not have done the upfront planning that defines what you want to accomplish. Assuming that this is the case we have to go back and look at the yearly results and evaluate them. A good strategic plan consists of three major parts:
1. Setting Directions: This includes visions, mission,
values, strategic focus and critical success factors.
2. Establishing Expectations: This includes organiz-
tional objectives and performance goals.
3. Defining actions: This includes tactics, individual
performance plans and budgets.

One of the major purposes of a business plan is to define what management and the stakeholders expect from the organization’s performance over the next 5-10 years and then to communicate how success will be measured. The outputs that are used to communicate these expectations are:

Objectives—Established by upper management to define what the organization wishes to accomplish over the next 5-10 years.
Performance Goals—Defined by middle and first-line managers (principals and teachers) to quantify the results that will be obtained if the business objectives are met.

In reviewing past performance to define the impact of the strategic planning process, review the objectives that were established during the planning process and compare them to previous accomplishments. Typically they should be at least 20 percent per year more aggressive than the results that were accomplished before starting the strategic planning process. Then compare the ensuing performance improvement down to the individual teacher performance plan and budget level. Comparing the performance improvement slope prior to and following the strategic planning process should provide you with the information necessary to evaluate the effect strategic planning has in improving the organization’s performance.

Where do you go from here? Well I like to stay with strategic planning and set new objectives. There are two refinements that I like to use:
1. Develop a set of vision statements that defines how the environmental factors within the school that impact the school’s performance need to change over the next five years. Typical environmental factors that impact a school are: teacher education and training; teacher leadership styles; parent involvement; measurement systems; support processes and so on. For each key environmental factor the as-is state should be defined, a vision statement should be prepared and an action plan developed to transform the school’s environment from the as-is condition to the future-state vision within a period of 3-5 years.
2. Define how you want the behavioral patterns to change over the next five years for the teachers, students, staff and parents. Define how these behavioral patterns will be measured and then use this data as part of your strategic planning objectives.

Don’t blame the strategic planning process if you did not get results. A great strategic planning process, poorly implemented with little follow through and reinforcement, produces poor results. A fair strategic plan, well implemented with rewards and punishment for the implementers, produces good results. As a rule of thumb, for every hour spent planning, spend a minimum of 100 hours implementing and following up on the plan.

A good strategic plan is one that is developed by everyone—from the boardroom to the boiler room or to put it another way, from the Principal’s office to the playground.

Myron Kellner Rogers Responds

November '98 News for a Change | Email Editor
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