Newly hired superintendent Lesli Myers wanted to kick off her tenure at the Brockport City School District with a new vision, mission, core beliefs, targets, strategies and priorities — and she wanted to do it in two sessions over four days. So she contacted Prism Decision Systems.
“This strategic planning process could not have occurred at a better time,” said Dr. Myers. “After reviewing school and district documents, it was clear that we needed to revisit our mission and establish a vision, core beliefs, and benchmarks. The Board of Education is already using the strategic plan to inform budget and resource allocation decisions. Additionally, the strategic planning process has helped revitalize our educators and community partners. Working with Prism Decision Systems has resulted in an immediate return on our investment.”
Too often teams arrive at their planning session and find blank chart paper only. This is a huge mistake. Efficient planning requires significant preparation, which for Brockport, included
- A succinct presentation of the district’s performance trends on all key indicators
- Recruitment of a committed, high-energy planning team representing the district’s stakeholders
- Agreement regarding criteria for effective vision, mission and core belief statements
- Pre-approval of meeting objectives and deliverables and of the strategic plan’s format
- Sign off on all of the above by the board of education
The team met for two days in December 2012. We began by reviewing our objective and final deliverable. The facilitator observed polite skepticism that we would be able to achieve either. This is a common reaction to such an aggressive agenda. Most people have never experienced the kind of dynamic group process and state-of-the-art decision support that Prism employs.
The team dove into a series of activities designed to generate strong consensus agreement regarding the district’s new vision, mission and core beliefs. We began by defining the explicit criteria for each and then engaged in a series of activities that balanced creative divergence and deliberate convergence:
- Brainwriting to generate mission statements
- Using visual analogies and pictures to articulate components of the the district’s new vision
- A 3 X 5 card sort to generate and organize more than 100 draft belief statements
- An efficient consensus process accelerated by deft use of Prism’s Group Decision Support System™
By the end of session one, we had achieved our first objective. We had strong consensus support for a new vision, mission and set of core beliefs. (See below.) There was considerable energy and excitement in the room — even if folks were a tad exhausted.
When we met again for two days in January 2013, there was less skepticism and more confidence in our ability to achieve session two’s objective and the final deliverable. Using similar techniques for diverging and converging, we
- Set K – 12 performance targets
- Generated close to 150 draft strategy statements and converged on ten
- Used Prism’s Group Decision Support System™ to create a strategic profile that helped to identify the high-impact, high-leverage strategies
- Agreed to four immediate priorities
By the end of the second session, Brockport had strong consensus support for a comprehensive plan. (See the targets, strategies and priorities below.) There was even some time remaining to begin drafting action plans for the four identified priorities!