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Ensure your strategic plan succeeds with your educational partners’ input

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September 29, 2023

Sarah Mathias

Strategic planning in education – 3 keys to success.

Effective strategic planning is critical for creating positive change in your district. Among the many benefits, strategic plans align educational partners with a shared vision, mission, and values; promote productive decision-making; and help students reach their full potential.

While having a plan in place will usually improve results, strategic planning can present challenges—resulting in endless meetings, countless goal and tactic revisions, and plans that are never fully realized.

In this post, we explore strategic planning in education, touch on some K-12 planning tips, and share three best practices for making strategic planning successful in your school district. With your community’s insights and the right tools, you can win at strategic planning. Here’s how.

In this Article

  • What is Strategic Planning in Education?

Strategic planning tips for K12

See thoughtexchange in action — watch the product tour, what is strategic planning in education.

Strategic planning is the process of setting goals, deciding on actions to achieve those goals, and mobilizing the resources needed to take those actions. A strategic plan describes how goals will be achieved using available resources.

While the concept initially stemmed from business practices due to people moving from the private sector into educational leadership positions, many strategic planning tools and paradigms have been adapted to focus on engagement and consensus.

This is because effective strategic planning requires community support at the school district level, both functionally and legislatively. School districts of all sizes use strategic planning to improve student outcomes and respond to changing demographics while staying within the given funding box.

In top-performing schools, leaders have proactively shifted their strategic planning process to include their educational partners. They know that their strategic plans are more likely to succeed with community support and the insights that come with community engagement.

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Strategic planning is key to setting students up for success in K-12 and beyond. A solid strategic plan articulates a shared vision, mission, and values, increasing engagement while providing a framework to ensure students’ needs are met so they can reach their full potential.

Your strategic plan will benefit from your district’s input. Here are a few effective ways to engage your district in K-12 strategic planning.

Tap into your educational partners’ wisdom

Your educational partners have valuable insights. Consult teachers, staff, students , parents, and community members throughout the planning process, so your strategy aligns with their perspectives.

Whether you’re setting strategy at the district, school, or department level, consulting diverse participants will uncover unbiased insights, enhance trust and buy-in, and ensure greater success with new strategic directions.

Using ThoughtExchange , leaders can scale their engagement to efficiently and effectively include their community in their district strategic plans.

Use climate surveys

Completed by all students, parents/guardians, and staff, school climate surveys allow leaders to collect participants’ perceptions about issues like school safety, bullying, and mental health and well-being, as well as the general school environment.

ThoughtExchange Surveys get you both nuanced qualitative and robust quantitative data with instant in-depth analysis, ensuring your district understands all angles of school climate. Run surveys independently or combine them with Exchanges for faster, more accurate results.

  • Collect benchmark comparisons while tracking and measuring improvements over time
  • Gather quality quantitative data for reporting to state agencies or funders
  • Identify outliers and trends across demographic groups

Put in some face time with town halls, meetings, or listening tours

In-person gatherings like town halls, meetings, and listening tours are effective ways to understand your educational partners’ wants and needs to ensure they line up with your strategic priorities.

When managed effectively, they give staff and other educational partners the chance to closely interact. In-person gatherings can build trust and morale, promote transparency, and help create a sense of purpose.

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Leverage community engagement platforms

Community engagement software lets you streamline your community engagement initiatives. It allows education leaders to gather feedback and get tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people on the same page in just days. It also facilitates candid, collaborative community conversations that help districts realize their goals.

A comprehensive community engagement platform like ThoughtExchange allows you to integrate your strategy with your community and take decisive, supported action in less time. It provides planning, scheduling, and analysis tools to help you quickly set strategy and monitor execution.

3 keys to strategic planning success

1. get everyone on the same page.

Make sure your educational partners are on the same page by allowing them to contribute to and shape your strategy from the start. Lack of alignment about what strategy involves can hinder even the best plans. So the first step in creating a successful strategic plan is getting everyone involved to provide their insights and opinions.

Letting your people know you’re listening and that their insights affect decisions, builds trust and buy-in. Your community will be much more likely to support—not sabotage—a strategy or decision.

2. Be a collaborative leader

According to ThinkStrategic , creating a school strategic plan should always be a collaborative process. Avoiding a top-down approach and getting input from educational partners will help minimize blind spots and unlock collective intelligence. It will also ensure everyone is committed to the plan. Get all community members involved in how to make the most of the school’s possibilities.

Commit to becoming a collaborative leader and put a plan in place to ensure you can achieve that goal. That may include implementing technology that can support scaled, real-time discussion safely and inclusively for students, teachers, and other educational partners.

3. Get a holistic view of your district

Getting a holistic view of your educational partners’ wants and needs helps you build more inclusive, supported strategic plans.

Depend on a platform that meets all your engagement needs in one place—from surveys to Exchanges—and allows you to consult more people in an inclusive, anti-biased environment. You’ll reduce the time and resources spent on town halls and meetings, and reach your district’s goals more efficiently and effectively.

Engagement and survey software has been proven to contribute to more effective strategic planning in education. It empowers leaders to run and scale unbiased engagement initiatives where they can learn what the people who matter really think— explore ThoughtExchange success stories to learn more .

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Review article, strategy and strategic leadership in education: a scoping review.

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  • 1 Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Research Centre for Human Development, Porto, Portugal
  • 2 Universidade de Évora, Évora, Portugal

Strategy and strategic leadership are critical issues for school leaders. However, strategy as a field of research has largely been overlooked within the educational leadership literature. Most of the theoretical and empirical work on strategy and strategic leadership over the past decades has been related to non-educational settings, and scholarship devoted to these issues in education is still minimal. The purpose of this scoping review was to provide a comprehensive overview of relevant research regarding strategy and strategic leadership, identifying any gaps in the literature that could inform future research agendas and evidence for practice. The scoping review is underpinned by the five-stage framework of Arksey and O’Malley . The results indicate that there is scarce literature about strategy and that timid steps have been made toward a more integrated and comprehensive model of strategic leadership. It is necessary to expand research into more complex, longitudinal, and explanatory ways due to a better understanding of these constructs.

Introduction

Strategy and strategic leadership are critical issues for school leaders ( Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ; Eacott, 2010a ; Eacott, 2011 ). However, strategy as a field of research has largely been overlooked in educational leadership literature ( Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Eacott, 2008a ; Eacott, 2008b ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ; Eacott, 2011 ). Most of the theoretical and empirical work on strategy and strategic leadership over the past decades has been related to non-educational settings, and scholarship devoted to these issues in education is still very limited ( Cheng, 2010 ; Eacott, 2011 ; Chan, 2018 ).

The concept of strategy appeared in educational management literature in the 1980s; however, little research was produced until the 1990s (cf. Eacott, 2008b ). Specific educational reforms led to large amounts of international literature mostly devoted to strategic planning ( Eacott, 2008a ; Eacott, 2008b ; Eacott, 2011 ). For a long period, the concept of strategy was incomplete and confusing. The word “strategy” was often used to characterize different kinds of actions, namely, to weight management activities, to describe a high range of leadership activities, to define planning, or to report to individual actions within an organization ( Eacott, 2008a ).

Strategy and strategic planning became synonymous ( Eacott, 2008b ). However, strategy and planning are different concepts, with the strategy being more than the pursuit of a plan ( Davies, 2003 , Davies, 2006 ; Eacott, 2008a ; Eacott, 2008b ; Quong and Walker, 2010 ). Both phases of plans’ design and plans’ implementation are related, and the quality of this second phase highly depends on planning’ quality ( Davies, 2006 ; Davies, 2007 ; Eacott, 2008a ; Eacott, 2008b ; Eacott, 2011 ; Meyers and VanGronigen, 2019 ). Planning and acting are related and must emerge from the strategy. As stated by Bell (2004) .

Planning based on a coherent strategy demands that the aims of the school are challenged, that both present and future environmental influences inform the development of the strategy, that there should be a clear and well-articulated vision of what the school should be like in the future and that planning should be long-term and holistic (p. 453).

Therefore, it is necessary to adopt a comprehensive and holistic framework of strategy, considering it as a way of intentionally thinking and acting by giving sense to a specific school vision or mission ( Davies, 2003 , 2006 ; Eacott, 2008a ; Eacott, 2008b ; Quong and Walker, 2010 ).

The works of Davies and colleagues ( Davies, 2003 ; Davies, 2004 ; Davies and Davies, 2004 ; Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ) and Eacott (2008a , 2008b) , Eacott (2010a , 2011) were essential and contributed to a shift in the rationale regarding strategy by highlighting a more integrative and alternate view. Davies and colleagues ( Davies, 2003 ; Davies, 2004 ; Davies and Davies, 2004 ; Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ) developed a comprehensive framework for strategically focused schools , comprising strategic processes, approaches, and leadership. In this model, the strategy is conceptualized as a framework for present and future actions, sustained by strategic thinking about medium to long term goals, and aligned to school vision or direction.

Strategic leadership assumes necessarily a relevant role in strategically focused schools. Eacott (2006) defines strategic leadership as “leadership strategies and behaviors relating to the initiation, development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of strategic actions within an educational institution, taking into consideration the unique context (past, present, and future) and availability of resources, physical, financial and human” (p. 1). Thereby, key elements of strategic leadership can be identified as one that: 1) acts in a proactive way to contextual changes; 2) leads school analysis and response to changing environment; 3) leads planning and action for school effectiveness and improvement in face of contextual challenges and; 4) leads monitoring and evaluation processes to inform decision making strategically ( Cheng, 2010 ). This brings to the arena a complex and dynamic view of strategic leadership as it is a complex social activity that considers important historical, economic, technological, cultural, social, and political influences and challenges ( Eacott, 2011 ).

Along with these authors, this paper advocates a more comprehensive and contextualized view of strategy and strategic leadership, where strategy is the core element of any leadership action in schools ( Davies and Davies, 2010 ; Eacott, 2011 ). Here, strategic leadership is not seen as a new theory, but an element of all educational leadership and management theories ( Davies and Davies, 2010 ). Even so, these concepts can inform and be informed by diverse leadership theories, a strategy-specific framework is needed in the educational field.

Considering all the above, strategy can be identified as a topic that is being researched in education, in the recent decades. Nonetheless, there is still scarce educational literature about this issue ( Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ; Cheng, 2010 ; Eacott, 2011 ; Chan, 2018 ). After 10 years of Eacott’s analysis of literature on strategy in education, it seems that this educational construct is being overlooked as there is still no consensual definition of strategy, different studies are supported in diverse conceptual frameworks and empirical studies about this topic are scarce ( Cheng, 2010 ; Eacott, 2011 ; Chan, 2018 ). Moreover, despite the interest of a multidisciplinary vision of strategy and strategic leadership, we agree with Eacott (2008b) about the need for a meaningful definition of strategy and strategic leadership in education, as it is a field with its specifications. Hence, research is needed for a clear definition of strategy, an integrated and complete framework for strategic action, a better identification of multiple dimensions of strategy and a comprehensive model of strategic leadership that has strategic thinking and action as core elements for schools improvement (e.g., Eacott, 2010a ; Hopkins et al., 2014 ; Reynolds et al., 2014 ; Harris et al., 2015 ; Bellei et al., 2016 ). This paper aims to contribute to the field offering a scoping review on strategy and strategic leadership in the educational field.

A clear idea of what strategy and strategic leadership mean and what theory or theories support it are of great importance for research and practice. This scoping review is an attempt to contribute to a strategy-specific theory by continuing to focus on ways to appropriately develop specific theories about strategy and strategic leadership in the educational field, particularly focusing on school contexts.

This study is a scoping review of the literature related to strategy and strategic leadership, which aims to map its specific aspects as considered in educational literature. Scoping reviews are used to present a broad overview of the evidence about a topic, irrespective of study quality, and are useful when examining emergent areas, to clarify key concepts or to identify gaps in research (e.g., Arksey and O’Malley, 2005 ; Peters et al., 2015 ; Tricco et al., 2016 ). Since in the current study we wanted to explore and categorize, but not evaluate, information available concerning specific aspects of strategy in educational literature, we recognize that scoping review methodology serves well this purpose.

In this study, Arksey and O’Malley (2005) five-stage framework for scoping reviews, complemented by the guidelines of other authors ( Levac et al., 2010 ; Colquhoun et al., 2014 ; Peters et al., 2015 ; Khalil et al., 2016 ), was employed. The five stages of Arksey and O’Malley’s framework are 1) identifying the initial research questions, 2) identifying relevant studies, 3) study selection, 4) charting the data, and 5) collating, summarizing and reporting the results. In the sections below, the process of this scoping review is presented.

Identifying the Initial Research Questions

The focus of this review was to explore key aspects of strategy and strategic leadership in educational literature. The primary question that guided this research was: What is known about strategy and strategic leadership in schools? This question was subdivided into the following questions: How should strategy and strategic leadership in schools be defined? What are the main characteristics of strategic leadership in schools? What key variables are related to strategy and strategic leadership in schools?

Identifying Relevant Studies

As suggested by Arksey and O’Malley (2005) , keywords for the search were defined, and databases were selected. Key concepts and search terms were developed to capture literature related to strategy and strategic leadership in schools, considering international perspectives. The linked descriptive key search algorithm that was developed to guide the search is outlined in Table 1 .

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TABLE 1 . Key search algorithm.

Considering scoping review characteristics, time and resources available, inclusion and exclusion criteria were developed. Papers related to strategy and strategic leadership, published between 1990 and 2019, were included. Educational literature has reported the concepts of strategy and strategic leadership since the 1980s ( Eacott, 2008a ; 2008b ). However, it gained expansion between 1990 and 2000 with studies flourishing mostly about strategic planning ( Eacott, 2008b ). Previous research argues that strategy is more than planning, taking note of the need to distinguish the concepts. Considering our focus on strategy and strategic leadership, studies about strategic planning were excluded as well as papers specifically related to other theories of leadership than strategic leadership. A full list of inclusion and exclusion criteria is outlined in Table 2 .

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TABLE 2 . Inclusion and exclusion criteria.

The following six electronic databases were searched to identify peer-reviewed literature: ERIC, Education Source, Academic Search Complete, Science Direct, Emerland, and Web of Science. Additionally, a manual search of the reference lists of identified articles was undertaken, and Google Scholar was utilized to identify any other primary sources. The review of the literature was completed over 2 months, ending in August 2019.

Study Selection

The process of studies’ selection followed the Preferred Reporting of Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement ( Moher et al., 2009 ). Figure 1 illustrates the process of article selection.

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FIGURE 1 . PRISMA chart outlining the study selection process.

With the key search descriptors, 1,193 articles were identified. A further number of articles were identified using Google Scholar. However, a large number of articles were removed from the search, as they were duplicated in databases, and 231 studies were identified as being relevant.

The next phases of studies’ selection were guided by the inclusion and exclusion criteria presented above. A screening of the titles, keywords, and abstracts revealed a large number of irrelevant articles, particularly those related to strategic planning (e.g., Agi, 2017 ) and with general ideas about leadership (e.g., Corral and Gámez, 2010 ). Only 67 studies were selected for full-text access and analyses.

Full-text versions of the 67 articles were obtained, with each article being reviewed and confirmed as appropriate. This process provided an opportunity to identify any further additional relevant literature from a review of the reference lists of each article (backward reference search; n = 2). Ultimately, both with database search and backward reference search, a total of 29 articles were included to be analyzed in the scoping review, considering inclusion and exclusion criteria. During this process of study selection, several studies were excluded. As in the previous phase, examples of excluded papers include studies related to strategic planning where the focus is on the planning processes (e.g., Bennett et al., 2000 ; Al-Zboon and Hasan, 2012 ; Schlebusch and Mokhatle, 2016 ) or with general ideas about leadership (e.g., FitzGerald and Quiñones, 2018 ). Additionally, articles that were primarily associated with other topics or related to specific leadership theories (e.g., instructional leadership, transformational leadership) and that only referred briefly to strategic leadership were excluded (e.g., Bandur, 2012 ; Malin and Hackmann, 2017 ). Despite the interest of all these topics for strategic action, we were interested specifically in the concepts of strategy, strategic leadership, and its specifications in educational literature.

Data Charting and Collation

The fourth stage of Arksey and O’Malley (2005) scoping review framework consists of charting the selected articles. Summaries were developed for each article related to the author, year, location of the study, participants, study methods, and a brief synthesis of study results related to our research questions. Details of included studies are provided in the table available in Supplementary Appendix S1 .

Summarising and Reporting Findings

The fifth and final stage of Arksey and O’Malley (2005) scoping review framework summarises and reports findings as presented in the next section. All the 29 articles were studied carefully and a content analysis was taken to answer research questions. Research questions guided summaries and synthesis of literature content.

In this section, results are presented first with a brief description of the origin and nature of the studies, and then as answering research questions previously defined.

This scoping review yielded 29 articles, specifically devoted to strategy and strategic leadership in education, from eleven different countries (cf. Figure 2 ). The United Kingdom and Australia have the highest numbers of papers. There is a notable dispersion of literature in terms of geographical distribution.

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FIGURE 2 . Number of papers per country.

A large number of these articles were published by Brent Davies and colleagues ( N = 9) and Scott Eacott ( N = 6). Without question, these authors have influenced and shaped the theoretical grounding about strategy and strategic leadership in educational literature. While Davies and colleagues have contributed to design a framework of strategy and strategic leadership, influencing the emergence of other studies related to these topics, Eacott provided an essential contribution by exploring, systematizing, and problematizing the existing literature about these same issues. The other authors have published between one and two papers about these topics.

Seventeen papers are of conceptual or theoretical nature, and twelve are empirical research papers (quantitative methods–7; qualitative methods–4; mixed methods–1). The conceptual/theoretical papers analyze the concepts of strategy and strategic leadership, present a framework for strategic leadership, and discuss implications for leaders’ actions. The majority of empirical studies are related to the skills, characteristics, and actions of strategic leaders. Other empirical studies explore relations between strategic leadership and other variables, such as collaboration, culture of teaching, organizational learning, and school effectiveness.

How should Strategy and Strategic Leadership in Schools be Defined?

The concept of strategy is relatively new in educational literature and, in great part, related to school planning. In this scoping review, a more integrated and comprehensive view is adopted ( Davies, 2003 ; Davies, 2006 ; Eacott, 2008a ; Eacott, 2008b ; Quong and Walker, 2010 ). Davies (2003) defined strategy as a specific pattern of decisions and actions taken to achieve an organization’s goals (p. 295). This concept of strategy entails some specific aspects, mainly that strategy implies a broader view incorporating data about a specific situation or context ( Davies, 2003 ; Dimmock and Walker, 2004 ; Davies, 2006 ; Davies, 2007 ). It is a broad organizational-wide perspective , supported by a vision and direction setting , that conceals longer-term views with short ones ( Davies, 2003 ; Dimmock and Walker, 2004 ; Davies, 2006 ; Davies, 2007 ). It can be seen as a template for short-term action . However, it deals mostly with medium-and longer-term views of three-to 5-year perspectives ( Davies, 2003 ; Davies, 2006 ; Davies, 2007 ). In this sense, a strategy is much more a perspective or a way of thinking that frames strategically successful schools ( Davies, 2003 ; Davies and Davies, 2005 ; Davies, 2006 ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ).

Eacott (2008a) has argued that strategy in the educational leadership context is a field of practice and application that is of a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary nature. More than a single definition of strategy, what is needed is a conceptual understanding and articulation of its fundamental features, which removes the need to answer, “what is a strategy?” Understanding strategy as choosing a direction within a given context, through leadership, and articulating that direction through management practices ( Eacott, 2008a , p. 356) brings to the arena diverse elements of strategy from both leadership and management. From this alternative point of view, a strategy may be seen as leadership ( Eacott, 2010a ). More than an answer to “what is a strategy?”, it is crucial to understand “when and how does the strategy exist?” ( Eacott, 2010a ), removing the focus on leaders’ behaviors and actions per se to cultural, social, and political relationships ( Eacott, 2011 ). Hence, research strategy and strategic leadership oblige by acknowledging the broader educational, societal, and political contexts ( Dimmock and Walker, 2004 ; Eacott, 2010a ; Eacott, 2010b ; Eacott, 2011 ).

Strategic leadership is a critical component of school development ( Davies and Davies, 2006 ). However, to define leadership is challenging considering the amount of extensive, diverse literature about this issue. Instead of presenting a new categorization about leadership, the authors most devoted to strategic leadership consider it as a key dimension of any activity of leadership ( Davies and Davies, 2004 ; Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Eacott, 2010a ; Eacott, 2010b ; Eacott, 2011 ). Barron et al. (1995) stressed the idea of change. As mentioned by the authors, implementation of strategic leadership means change: change in thinking, change in the way schools are organized, change in management styles, change in the distribution of power, change in teacher education programs, and change in roles of all participants ( Barron et al., 1995 , p. 180). Strategic leadership is about creating a vision, setting the direction of the school over the medium-to longer-term and translating it into action ( Davies and Davies, 2010 ; Eacott, 2011 ). In that sense, strategic leadership is a new way of thinking ( Barron et al., 1995 ) that determines a dynamic and iterative process of functioning in schools ( Eacott, 2008b ).

In their model of strategic leadership, Davies and Davies (2006) consider that leadership must be based on strategic intelligence, summarised as three types of wisdom: 1) people wisdom, which includes participation and sharing information with others, developing creative thinking and motivation, and developing capabilities and competencies within the school; 2) contextual wisdom, which comprises understanding and developing school culture, sharing values and beliefs, developing networks, and understanding external environment; and 3) procedural wisdom, which consists of the continuous cycle of learning, aligning, timing and acting. This model also includes strategic processes and strategic approaches that authors define as the centre of this cycle ( Davies and Davies, 2006 , p. 136).

To deeply understand strategic leadership, it is necessary to explore strategic processes and approaches that leaders take ( Davies and Davies, 2010 ). In this sense, strategic leadership, strategic processes, and strategic approaches are key elements for sustainable and successful schools, which are found to be strategically focused. Davies (2006) designed a model for a strategically focused school that may be defined as one that is educationally effective in the short-term but also has a clear framework and processes to translate core moral purpose and vision into an excellent educational provision that is challenging and sustainable in the medium-to long-term (p.11). This model incorporates 1) strategic processes (conceptualization, engagement, articulation, and implementation), 2) strategic approaches (strategic planning, emergent strategy, decentralized strategy, and strategic intent), and 3) strategic leadership (organizational abilities and personal characteristics). Based on these different dimensions, strategically focused schools have built-in sustainability, develop set strategic measures to assess their success, are restless, are networked, use multi-approach planning processes, build the strategic architecture of the school, are strategically opportunistic, deploy strategy in timing and abandonment and sustain strategic leadership ( Davies, 2004 , pp.22–26).

What Are the Main Characteristics of Strategic Leadership in Schools?

Davies (2003) , Davies and Davies (2005) , Davies and Davies (2006) , Davies and Davies (2010) discuss what strategic leaders do (organizational abilities) and what characteristics strategic leaders display (personal characteristics). The key activities of strategic leaders, or organizational abilities, are 1) create a vision and setting a direction, 2) translate strategy into action, 3) influence and develop staff to deliver the strategy, 4) balance the strategic and the operational, 5) determine effective intervention points ( what, how, when, what not to do and what to give up ), 6) develop strategic capabilities, and 7) define measures of success ( Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ). The main characteristics that strategic leaders display, or their characteristics, are 1) dissatisfaction or restlessness with the present, 2) absorptive capacity, 3) adaptive capacity, and 4) wisdom.

Two specific studies explored the strategic leadership characteristics of Malaysian leaders ( Ali, 2012 ; Ali, 2018 ), considering the above-mentioned model as a framework. For Malaysian Quality National Primary School Leaders, the results supported three organizational capabilities (strategic orientation, translation, and alignment) and three individual characteristics of strategic leadership (dissatisfaction or restlessness with the present, absorptive capacity, and adaptive capacity). For Malaysian vocational college educational leaders, the results were consistent with seven distinct practices of strategic leadership, such as strategic orientation, strategic alignment, strategic intervention, restlessness, absorptive capacity, adaptive capacity, and leadership wisdom.

Other studies were also focused on the characteristics of strategic leadership with different populations and countries. Chatchawaphun et al. (2016) identified the principles, attributes, and skills of the strategic leadership of secondary school administrators from Thailand. The principles identified within the sample of principals included appropriate values, modern visionary, future focusing strategy, empirical evidence focus, intention toward accomplishment, decency, and making relationships. The attributes found were strategic learning, strategic thinking, and value push up. The skills were learning, interpretation, forecasting, planning, challenge, and decision making. Chan (2018) explored strategic leadership practices performed by Hong Kong school leaders of early childhood education and identified effective planning and management, reflective and flexible thinking, and networking and professional development as variables. Eacott (2010c) investigated the strategic role of Australian public primary school principals concerning the leader characteristics of tenure (referring to the time in years in their current substantive position) and functional track (referring to the time in years spent at different levels of the organizational hierarchy). These demographic variables have moderating effects on the strategic leadership and management of participants. These five studies seem to be outstanding contributions to solidify a framework of strategic leadership and to test it with different populations in different countries.

Additionally, Quong and Walker (2010) present seven principles for effective and successful strategic leaders. Strategic leaders are future-oriented and have a future strategy, their practices are evidence-based and research-led, they get things done, open new horizons, are fit to lead, make good partners and do the “next” right thing—these seven principles of action seem related to the proposal of Davies and colleagues. Both authors highlighted visions for the future, future long-term plans, and plans’ translation into action as important characteristics of strategic leaders.

One other dimension that is being explored in research relates to ethics. Several authors assert that insufficient attention and research have been given to aspects related to moral or ethical leadership among school leaders ( Glanz, 2010 ; Quong and Walker, 2010 ; Kangaslahti, 2012 ). The seventh principle of the Quong and Walker (2010) model of strategic leadership is that leaders do the “next” right thing. This relates to the ethical dimension of leadership, meaning that strategic leaders recognize the importance of ethical behaviors and act accordingly. For some authors, ethics in strategic leadership is a critical issue for researchers and practitioners that needs to be taken into consideration ( Glanz, 2010 ; Quong and Walker, 2010 ). Glanz (2010) underlined social justice and caring perspectives as required to frame strategic initiatives. Kangaslahti (2012) analyzed the strategic dilemmas that leaders face in educational settings (e.g., top-down strategy vs. bottom-up strategy process; leadership by authority vs. staff empowerment; focus on administration vs. focus on pedagogy; secret planning and decision making vs. open, transparent organization; the well-being of pupils vs. well-being of staff) and how they can be tackled by dilemma reconciliation. Chen (2008) , in case study research, explored the conflicts that school administrators have confronted in facilitating school reform in Taiwan. The author identified four themes related to strategic leadership in coping with the conflicts accompanying this school reform: 1) educational values, 2) timeframe for change, 3) capacity building, and 4) community involvement. These studies reinforce the idea that school improvement and success seem to be influenced by the way leaders think strategically and deal with conflicts or dilemmas. Researchers need to design ethical frameworks or models from which practitioners can think ethically about their strategic initiatives and their dilemmas or conflicts ( Chen, 2008 ; Glanz, 2010 ; Kangaslahti, 2012 ).

Despite the critical contribution of Davies’ models ( Davies, 2003 ; Davies, 2004 ; Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ) and subsequent works, Eacott (2010a) questions the production of lists of behaviors and traits. This is likely one of the main differences between Davies’ and Eacott’s contributions in this field. While Davies and colleagues include organizational abilities and personal characteristics in their model of strategic leadership, Eacott (2010a , 2010b) emphasizes the broader context where strategy occurs. These ideas, however, are not contradictory but complementary in the comprehension of strategy as leadership in education since both authors present a comprehensive and integrated model of strategic leadership. Even though Davies and colleagues present some specific characteristics of leaders, these characteristics are incorporated into a large model for strategy in schools.

What Are Other Key Variables Related to Strategy and Strategic Leadership in Schools?

Other studies investigated the relationship between strategic leadership and other key variables, such as collaboration ( Ismail et al., 2018 ), the culture of teaching ( Khumalo, 2018 ), organizational learning ( Aydin et al., 2015 ) and school effectiveness ( Prasertcharoensuk and Tang, 2017 ).

One descriptive survey study presented teacher collaboration as a mediator of strategic leadership and teaching quality ( Ismail et al., 2018 ). The authors argue that school leaders who demonstrate strategic leadership practices can lead to the creation of collaborative practices among teachers and thus help to improve the professional standards among them, namely, teaching quality ( Ismail et al., 2018 ). One cross-sectional study identified positive and significant relations among the variables of strategic leadership actions and organizational learning. Transforming, political, and ethical leadership actions were identified as significant predictors of organizational learning. However, managing actions were not found to be a significant predictor ( Aydin et al., 2015 ). One other study establishes that strategic leadership practices promote a teaching culture defined as the commitment through quality teaching for learning outcomes ( Khumalo, 2018 ). These three studies provide essential highlights of the relevance of strategic leadership for school improvement and quality. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that in a research survey that examined the effect of leadership factors of administrators on school effectiveness, the authors concluded that the direct, indirect, and overall effects of the administrators’ strategic leadership had no significant impact on school effectiveness ( Prasertcharoensuk and Tang, 2017 ). These studies introduce important questions that need to be explored both related to strategy and strategic leadership features and its relations and impacts on relevant school variables. Such studies stimulate researchers to explore these and other factors that relate to strategic leadership.

The knowledge about strategy and strategic leadership is still incomplete and confusing ( Eacott, 2008a ; Eacott, 2008b ). From the 29 studies selected, divergent data and multiple concepts of strategy can be identified which reinforces the confusion about these issues. Some integrative clarification is still needed about the concepts of strategy and strategic leadership as about its core features. In this section, it is intended to contribute to the clarification and integration of the concepts considering the studies selected.

The emergence of politics and reforms related to school autonomy and responsibility in terms of efficacy and accountability brings the concept of strategy to the educational literature ( Eacott, 2008b ; Cheng, 2010 ). It first appeared in the 1980s but gained momentum between 1990 and 2000. However, the main focus of the literature was on strategic planning based upon mechanistic or technical-rational models of strategy. Authors have criticized the conceptualization of strategy as a way for elaborating a specific plan of action for schools ( Davies, 2003 ; Davies, 2006 ; Eacott, 2008a ; Eacott, 2008b ; Quong and Walker, 2010 ). These same authors adopted a more comprehensive and holistic model of strategy. The concepts have been developed from a more rational and mechanistic view related to planning processes to a more comprehensive and complex view of strategy and leadership that take into consideration a situated and contextual framework. Considering the contribution of these studies, strategy incorporates three core dimensions, articulated with a schoolwide perspective 1) Vision, mission and direction (e.g., Davies, 2003 ; Dimmock and Walker, 2004 ; Davies, 2006 ; Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Davies, 2007 ; Eacott, 2008a ) 2) Intentional thinking (e.g., Barron et al., 1995 ; Davies, 2003 ; Davies and Davies, 2005 ; Davies, 2006 ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ): and; 3) Articulated decision-making and action (e.g., Davies, 2003 ; Dimmock and Walker, 2004 ; Davies and Davies, 2006 ; Davies, 2006 ; Davies, 2007 ; Eacott, 2008a ; Eacott, 2010a ; Eacott, 2010b ; Eacott, 2011 ).

Strategic leaders have an important role in strategy but, even considering this comprehensive and holistic concept of strategy, research poses the question of what are the main characteristics of strategic leaders in schools? From the literature reviewed, specific abilities, behaviors, and other characteristics may be identified. Looking for an integrated picture of strategic leadership, Table 3 represents the main contributions of the studies selected.

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TABLE 3 . Strategic leadership: Main features.

Despite the contribution of these studies to deep knowledge about strategic leadership, the discussion here considers whether it is worthwhile to produce lists of behaviors and traits for strategic leaders in the absence of an integrated model that acknowledges the broader educational, societal and political context ( Dimmock and Walker, 2004 ; Eacott, 2010a ; Eacott, 2010b ; Eacott, 2011 ). Eacott (2011) argues that strategy, as constructed through analysis, is decontextualized and dehumanized and essentially a vacuous concept with limited utility to the practice that it seeks to explain (p. 426). Without a comprehensive and contextual model of strategy and strategic leadership, supported by research, the topics may still be overlooked and misunderstood. With this in mind, Figure 3 attempts to represent the core dimensions of strategy from a comprehensive perspective.

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FIGURE 3 . Strategy and core dimensions from a comprehensive perspective.

As this is a scoping review, we tried to display a general view of the literature that can serve as a basis for a specific strategy theory in education and to more in-depth studies related to strategy and strategic leadership in schools. Nevertheless, we need to identify some methodological limitations of this study. As a scoping review, methods and reporting need improvement ( Tricco et al., 2018 ) and we are aware of this circumstance. Also, our search strategy may have overlooked some existing studies, since grey documents (e.g., reports) and studies from diverse languages than English were not included, that can misrepresent important data. Besides, inclusion criteria focused only on studies specifically devoted to strategy (not strategic planning) and strategic leadership (no other theories of leadership), but we acknowledge important contributions from this specific literature that were excluded. Finally, in our study there is no comparative analysis between the western and eastern/oriental contexts. However, we are aware that these contexts really differ and a context-specific reflection on strategy and strategic leadership in education would be useful. More research is needed to overcome the limitations mentioned.

Besides, the pandemic COVID19 brought new challenges in education, and particularly, to leaders. This study occurred before the pandemic and this condition was not acknowledged. However, much has changed in education as a consequence of the pandemic control measures, these changes vary from country to country, and schools’ strategies have changed for sure. Future research needs to explore strategy and strategic leadership in education considering a new era post pandemic.

With this scoping review, the authors aimed to contribute to enduring theories about strategy and strategic leadership in education. From our findings, it appears that this issue is being little explored. Despite the important contributions of authors cited in this scoping review ( Aydin et al., 2015 ; Chatchawaphun et al., 2016 ; Prasertcharoensuk and Tang, 2017 ; Ali, 2018 ; Chan, 2018 ; Ismail et al., 2018 ; Khumalo, 2018 ), minor advances seem to have been made after 2010. This is intriguing taking into account the leaders’ role in the third wave of educational reform, where strategic leadership pursues a new vision and new aims for education due to maximizing learning opportunities for students through “ triplisation in education’ (i.e., as an integrative process of globalization, localization and individualization in education)” ( Cheng, 2010 , p. 48). It was expected that research moved from rational planning models towards a more complex view of strategy in education ( Eacott, 2011 ). This review brings the idea that some timid and situated steps have been made.

Since the important review by Eacott, published in 2008, a step forward was made in the distinction between strategy and planning. Despite the significant number of papers about planning that were found during this review, the majority were published before 2008 (e.g., Nebgen, 1990 ; Broadhead et al., 1998 ; Bennett et al., 2000 ; Beach and Lindahl, 2004 ; Bell, 2004 ). Also, most of the papers selected adopt a more integrative, comprehensive, and complex view of strategy and strategic leadership (e.g., Eacott, 2010a ; Eacott, 2010b ; Davies and Davies, 2010 ; Eacott, 2011 ; Ali, 2012 ; Ali, 2018 ; Chan, 2018 ). More than identifying the “best of” strategy and strategic leadership, alternative models understand strategy as a way of thinking ( Davies and Davies, 2010 ) and a work in progress ( Eacott, 2011 ).

This also resonates with the educational literature about loosely coupled systems . There is evidence that loosely coupled educational organizations continue to exist and that resistance to change is a characteristic of school organizations ( Hautala et al., 2018 ). Strategic leadership gains relevance since leaders need to consider how to manage their loose and tight configurations and, hence, reinforce simultaneous personal and organizational dimensions related to school improvement. It is time to expand the research into more complex, longitudinal, and explanatory ways due to a better understanding of the constructs. This scoping review was an attempt to contribute to this endeavor by integrating and systematizing educational literature about strategy and strategic leadership.

Author Contributions

MC-collected and analyzed data, write the paper IC, JV, and JA-guided the research process and reviewed the paper.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) for the support to this publication (Ref. UIDB/04872/2020).

Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2021.706608/full#supplementary-material

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Keywords: strategy, strategic leadership, school leadership, scoping review, education

Citation: Carvalho M, Cabral I, Verdasca JL and Alves JM (2021) Strategy and Strategic Leadership in Education: A Scoping Review. Front. Educ. 6:706608. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2021.706608

Received: 07 May 2021; Accepted: 23 September 2021; Published: 15 October 2021.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2021 Carvalho, Cabral, Verdasca and Alves. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Marisa Carvalho, [email protected]

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Strategic planning

The need for an iiep remains higher than ever.                                    (unesco internal oversight services, 2013).

 An effective ministry is guided by a plan which brings together all stakeholders and is regularly monitored and updated. IIEP strongly believes that planning is not a one-off activity. Rather it is a continuous practice that should engage all ministry departments and partners at national and subnational levels in a consultative and participatory process. Institutionalizing planning necessitates that ministries establish a strategic vision and priorities, coordinate their programmes and budgets annually and within a medium-term expenditure framework, negotiate with national and international financing agencies, and periodically monitor that it is on track to achieve policy objectives through implementation reviews.

Strategic planning guides educational development by giving a common vision and shared priorities. Educational planning is both visionary and pragmatic, engaging a wide range of actors in defining education’s future and mobilizing resources to reach its goals. For policy-makers, planning offers the path to:

  • implement education reform and system transformation;
  • realize equal opportunities for children and youth;
  • provide quality education for all.

IIEP has strong experience and expertise in strategic planning and has developed in collaboration with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) two newly published documents to help ministries in charge of education transform their processes and operations to meet the challenges of a changing world:

  • Guidelines for Education Sector Plan Appraisal
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  • Guidelines for transitional education plan preparation

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The Importance of Strategic Planning in Education

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blog , Education , Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is a method used in various industries to deliberately guide decision-making. In education, strategic planning provides leaders with guidance to keep the institution operating, carry out its missions and comply with regulations. Educational strategic planning focuses on the future of a college or university, providing an intentional way to reflect on performance and determine where to implement initiatives to make positive changes for the future.

To create effective university strategic plans, administrators and stakeholders must understand the ins and outs of how they work and how they can apply them.

In This Article

  • Lack of Ownership
  • Poor Strategic Alignment
  • Poor Communication
  • Slow Plan Adoption
  • Improve Efficiency
  • Engage Stakeholders and the Community
  • Form a Focus
  • Plan a Future
  • Test Your Hypotheses
  • Use Specific Language
  • Make Implementation a Priority
  • Hold Team Members Accountable

Transform Strategic Planning and Execution Within Your Education Institution With AchieveIt

The challenges of strategic planning in education.

Universities and colleges face several pressures and challenges that can complicate strategic planning in educational environments. Understanding some of these challenges can help you overcome them to create an impactful approach.

1. Lack of Ownership

While strategic plans involve feedback and participation from all of your institution’s departments and entities, you should limit ownership of the plan and documentation to one person. Without explicit ownership over the strategic plan, initiatives are more likely to be lost, forgotten or overlooked. With one person in charge, your school is more likely to achieve success.

2. Poor Strategic Alignment

Alignment and representation across your university are crucial to success. Universities and colleges often experience a lack of strategic alignment because the church and state divisions typically have different goals for schools. These clashing perspectives lead to poor strategic alignment and a stand-still in decision-making.

3. Poor Communication

Many educational institutions also struggle with strategic planning due to poor organizational communication. Effectively implementing a strategic plan requires institutional-wide teamwork. Poor communication significantly increases the difficulty of agreeing upon and executing effective solutions and setting attainable goals.

4. Slow Plan Adoption

With a significant focus on innovation and growth, universities may make numerous changes in a year. Constant changes often lead to low motivation to adopt new plans. The longer your teams take to implement a strategic plan, the more likely it is to become outdated. When this situation happens, the plan becomes irrelevant to your current processes.

Why Education Institutions Need Strategic Planning

Despite the inherent challenges, educational strategic planning is necessary for a successful institution operation. A strategic plan can help you improve several aspects of your educational institution through intentional goal-setting and initiative implementation. Strategic planning for colleges and universities helps students, staff and the community progress toward a better future.

Here are a few reasons you should use strategic planning in education:

Improve Efficiency

1. Improve Efficiency

One of the biggest reasons to begin strategic planning is the opportunity for improved efficiency in numerous areas of your organization. The challenges of educational planning often lead to a lack of efficiency. Strategic planning for schools allows leaders to determine more effective ways to streamline processes.

For example, your decision-making teams may take significant time to agree on new policies or procedures. Strategic planning helps your institution use time more efficiently because it allows you to form decision-making strategies.

Improved efficiency also results in better cost-effectiveness. The less time is wasted, the more money you’ll save, especially over time.

2. Engage Stakeholders and the Community

Strategic planning involves more people than only the primary decision-makers — your planning should involve your community and stakeholders. Feedback from these entities can help you develop a more beneficial and strategically targeted plan based on what these entities want or need from you. Engaging the stakeholders and community also shows you value their input and want to create an environment where they want to be.

3. Form a Focus

Determining a focus for the school year ahead can be challenging without clear objectives. Without focus, your institution will struggle to grow and attract students and staff. For example, you may have vague expectations for the upcoming school year, which prevents decisions and progress from being made. A strategic plan allows you to determine your goals and focus for the upcoming year and beyond while also helping you track your progress.

4. Plan a Future

Strategic planning is ideal for planning a successful future for your institution. Developing a plan for your future helps ensure your school can grow and continue benefiting from its offerings. Rather than being unprepared for the next year and future school years, you can effectively strategize to make the most of your school year.

Strategic Planning Tips for Education Institutions

Strategic Planning Tips for Education Institutions

While every school’s strategic plan will look different depending on its goals and resources, the strategic planning process is often similar for colleges and universities. Explore a few tips for educational strategic planning to help you get started:

1. Test Your Hypotheses

You’re ultimately hypothesizing the outcome when you set initiatives in your strategic plan. These hypotheses are often based on assumptions, though it’s typically best to experiment to determine what would work and what may not. For example, if you ask your faculty to begin submitting weekly reports, conduct a quick test to ensure they can do so and have time to do so.

2. Use Specific Language

Using vague or wordy language increases the risk of confusion and the possibility of initiatives being misunderstood and ignored. Swapping out complicated words for simpler, more specific words can help ensure everyone understands your plan. It can help to have someone review the language you use to ensure nothing is confusing and everyone is on the same page.

3. Make Implementation a Priority

Because schools involve numerous departments and divisions, implementing a plan can be difficult without prioritization . Make your plan a priority to ensure it’s properly implemented. Doing so is often easiest when leaders promote and require implementation.

4. Hold Team Members Accountable

Another way to make university strategic plans stick is by holding team members accountable. School performance management software allows you to track reports and other strategy-related information to determine who’s completing their duties so you can keep them accountable.

Educational institutions require significant planning to ensure a successful school year. Strategic planning software for higher education can help you focus your strategy despite your institution’s challenges. Software like AchieveIt has features that help your team turn ideas into actions.

A few things you can do with our software include:

  • Solve common implementation challenges: AchieveIt makes connecting members of your team and various initiatives easy. You can track projects, keep everyone on the same page and quickly send updates.
  • Gain comprehensive visibility: Our platform lets you see every initiative in real time, providing comprehensive visibility over progress.
  • Consult with our experts: Our strategic plan experts help you execute your plan effectively. Draw on our expertise for inspiration or customize one of our templates to create your plan.

Let’s actually do this. Request a demo of AchieveIt to see what we can do for you today.

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Disruption. The new normal. VUCA. Whatever you call it, the truth is the same: The pace of change is rapid and constant. The world that higher education serves today is vastly different than 10 or 20 years ago. “Business as usual” is a luxury few can afford; higher education institutions are asked to prove their worth, redefine their purpose, and respond more quickly to society’s needs.

In this new normal, higher education strategic planning is no longer an empty exercise or a leadership vanity project. It is imperative for each institution to survive . . . and thrive.

What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a deliberate, disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an institution is, what it does, and why it does it.

The college or university strategic plan provides guidance for institutional decisions, both long-term and day-to-day, and makes sure that decisions and operations:

  • Carry out the institution’s mission, vision, and values
  • Comply with mandates and regulations of government, accrediting bodies, etc.
  • Keep the institution operationally and fiscally healthy, now and in the future

5 Components of Strategic Planning in Higher Education

The components of every strategic plan will vary according to an institution’s culture and needs but generally include:

  • Explanation of the planning process
  • Foundational information (an institution’s mission, vision, values)
  • What your institution wants to achieve (goals, strategic issues, objectives, etc.)
  • How your institution will achieve its goals (strategies, tactics, actions, etc.)
  • How your institution will measure success (metrics, KPIs)

Why do strategic planning?

Higher education strategic planning helps an institution focus on its future success. How is the world changing, and how do we need to respond? What opportunities do we have to make a difference? What changes do we need to make today so we’re ready for tomorrow?

It gives an institution an opportunity to reflect on its performance. Is the institution achieving its vision? Living by its mission? Serving students in the ways they need? What should we start doing? Keep doing? Change? Stop doing?

Why is integrated planning important for strategic planning?

Higher education institutions are complex. The success of any initiative—from improving graduation rates to creating a more inclusive environment—requires expertise, time, and work from multiple units. At the same time, each unit has its own activities and work that it’s focusing on. By building relationships across departments, integrated strategic planning prevents duplicate activities (or worse, initiatives that work against each other), creates opportunities for collaboration, and makes sure that time and effort are spent on initiatives that realize the mission. Integrated strategic planning saves an institution’s resources while improving its work.

Integrated planning also helps with a strategic plan’s implementation. An integrated university or college strategic plan reflects the beliefs and experiences of the institution’s stakeholders, motivating people to change and experiment. It’s linked to the budget, so there are resources to implement plan strategies. It’s informed by assessment, so the strategic plan can adapt and stay relevant.

Who does strategic planning?

Strategic planning should involve the input and participation of the entire campus community—both internal stakeholders (faculty, administration, staff, students, alumni) and external stakeholders (community members, employers).

The planning committee or team leads the process. Since strategic planning can be a long, complex process, there may also be additional committees or task forces to tackle different topics or parts of the process.

Planning Committee

  • Chair: president, senior-level administrator, or faculty member (depends on the institution)
  • Representatives of key stakeholder groups
  • Top-level decision makers (provost, VPs/directors of key campus divisions and departments)

When is strategic planning done?

Most strategic plans are cyclical. As one strategic plan nears the end of its horizon (the length of time a plan covers), a new planning process begins for the next strategic plan.

A plan’s horizon depends on the institution and its needs. Most strategic plans cover five to 10 years, but some may cover as few as three and others as long as 20.

If a new president assumes leadership of the institution, the new president will often conduct a new planning process that reflects the president’s priorities.

How is strategic planning done?

The strategic planning process needs to be adapted to an institution’s culture and operations. For example, a tightly controlled top-down process may face challenges in a highly decentralized institution.

Strategic planning processes need to include the following activities and characteristics:

  • Communicate the process, purpose, who is involved, and how decisions will be made
  • Seek and use feedback from as many stakeholders as possible, both on and off campus
  • Scan externally and internally to identify strengths, areas to improve, opportunities, and potential threats
  • Prioritize what the institution wants to accomplish
  • Outline how the institution will invest its resources (including time and people) to accomplish those goals
  • Align resources, day-to-day work, and initiatives across the institution with the plan
  • Measure, monitor, and modify the plan as needed

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Conference recordings, strategic plan implementation in a vuca environment, planning for higher education journal, untangling the history and procedures of strategic planning, a practical guide to strategic planning in higher education.

A resource for anyone engaged in college or university strategic planning, and an excellent primer for planning committees. This second edition also contains new strategies for using an institution’s strategic plan during times of institutional upheaval, and additional techniques for jump-starting various parts of the planning process.

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Project Management in Schools pp 43–59 Cite as

Educational Planning and Its Unique Characteristics

  • Miri Yemini 4 ,
  • Izhar Oplatka 4 &
  • Netta Sagie 5  
  • First Online: 22 May 2018

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The primary purpose of planning is to prepare a set of directions that will be sufficient for project implementation in a way that will ensure that the project objectives are accomplished. Research shows that investment in planning is positively related to project success. During this chapter, we will discuss and detail the process of project planning within the school context and we will provide specific examples and templates for each phase of planning.

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Yemini, M., Oplatka, I., Sagie, N. (2018). Educational Planning and Its Unique Characteristics. In: Project Management in Schools. Palgrave Pivot, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-78608-7_3

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Business Jargons

A Business Encyclopedia

Strategic Planning

Definition : Strategic Planning can be understood as a systematic long-range planning activity, that an organization uses to fix priorities, strengthen operations, ascertain objectives and focus on the resources required and are to be allocated in order to pursue the strategy and attain the objectives.

It is a part of the strategic management process , which ensures that every aspect of the organization is working towards the achievement of the organization’s goals, i.e. in the right and intended direction.

Strategic Planning ascertains what an organization is, to whom it serves, where is it going and what are the paths, which are to be followed to follow its vision. It includes strategic decision making, strategic intent , strategic management model and strategy formulation .

Characteristics of Strategic Planning

strategic planning

  • Strategic Planning is an analytical process which formulates strategic and operational plans for the organization. The implementation of strategic plans is possible through projects, whereas various units or divisions of the firm implement operational plans.
  • It performs SWOT Analysis , i.e. during the planning process, the firm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are taken into consideration.
  • It is a forward-looking activity wherein the future opportunities and threats are ascertained while considering its profitability, market share, product and competition.
  • It presupposes that a firm should always be ready to adapt itself according to the dynamic business environment. For this purpose alternative strategies are developed for different circumstances, i.e. from best to worst, for the future
  • It can be done for the entire organization or to a specific business unit .
  • It is helpful in selecting the best strategy , among the various strategies taking into account the firm’s interest, personal values and corporate social responsibility.
  • It acts as a guide to the executive to reduce the risk involved in the business and also to take the best possible advantage of the opportunities. So, in this way, it contributes to the success of the enterprise.

Strategic Planning is a logical effort, that envisions the desired future, by producing various alternative actions and decisions, to formulate an effective strategy, that brings success to the organisation. It helps in analysing and adjusting the organisation’s efforts as a whole, according to the changing business environment.

Strategic Planning Stages

  • Generation of Strategic Alternatives : In this step, the firm seeks a number of strategic alternatives in the light of the firm’s business, industry and competition. These strategies may be acquisition and expansion, focusing on core competencies, increase in the market share, etc.
  • Will it improve the firm’s position or market share?
  • Will it increase existing strengths?
  • Will it bring new opportunities?
  • Will it maximise shareholder’s wealth?
  • Selection of Strategy : The optimum strategy is selected at this stage, among various alternative strategies.

Both internal and external analysis of the firm is performed during the exercise; wherein internal analysis entails an evaluation of financial performance, operational limitations, current market position/share corporate culture, strengths and weaknesses.

On the other hand, external analysis concentrates on the analysis of competition, trends, changing business environment, opportunities and threats, latest technology and so forth.

Related terms:

  • Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Strategic Human Resource Management Process
  • Strategic Alliance
  • Strategic Intent
  • Strategic Management

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