A missing piece in your strategic planning process?

We talk frequently in this newsletter about the challenge of gathering opinions from the 80 percent of your patron population who have little interest in speaking up (until Election Day, that is).  

As long as the school district seems to be going along smoothly and staying off the front page of the newspaper, they focus on the other worries in their lives.

If that’s the case, what’s the big deal about cornering them, until they give you their opinion?

There are several reasons why the silent majority has to be nudged into speaking up. One of the most important times where their opinion matters – whether they think so or not – is during your strategic planning process.

While your playbook may be somewhat different, the typical strategic planning undertaking is typically led by a committee consisting of business and civic leaders, perhaps members of the faith community, and staff from your district. District leadership plays the role of subject matter expert, or SME, whenever the committee has a question.

Mixed in with this group process is often a series of focus groups, and interviews with Board members, the district cabinet, and community thought leaders. All this data gets put into a meat grinder of sorts, trying to determine what this cross-section of humanity wants for the district for the next five years.

The problem with these being your only sources of data is they are waist-deep in the district – if not at the beginning, by the end. What about the typical resident? What does he or she think?

To solve this problem, collect the data to the point where you are beginning to really narrow the focus and conduct a brief telephone survey of your community. Let them be the spot-checker on your thinking – what sounds good and what you may have forgotten in your zest.

Camdenton School District in Missouri followed our strategic planning process with the outcome being a well thought out five-year plan, created by “the people of this district.”  View the district’s plan on our website.