So, you've decided to write a strategic plan for your charter school. You've listed out all of the elements that you'll need to include. Now, where do you start? I know, you start with the Vision Statement, right?
Well, before that, you need to make some other decisions. For example, whose plan is this? Who is going to use it?
You also need to work out, who needs to be on the strategic planning team. Sometimes a school starting with a strong school founder end up letting the founder come up with the vision and mission. Others then have to fill in the plan. There isn't anything necessarily wrong with that, but the school has to have a mission that truly serves the population and takes into account the ability of the staff to fulfill the mission. So, should staff members be involved? Should board members be involved? Answering these questions are the first step in creating a strategic plan.
As some of have said, "You have to plan to plan." Because the purpose of a strategic plan is like the purpose of a map, you have to decide who is best qualified to create a map. You can't have just a bunch of visionaries because the map will never be completed. The map will look like the picture on the left. It won't have any detail and will be almost useless.
You can't just have a bunch of detailed people because they'll want to fill out the details about the map before the vision for the trip has been planned. They'll probably want to draw in roads that are accurate, but unnecessary.
You also can't just have a free for all with all of these people because nothing with get done.
I recommend that groups choose their participants wisely and keep the number small. The groups has to be large enough to include people who will be valuable to the process, but not so large or diverse as to be unmanageable or divisive.
I also recommend that the facilitator not be a member of the group and optimally someone who has no interest in the outcomes of the school. The facilitator should not contribute ideas to the process. The facilitator is only to facilitate the process so that he or she does not confuse the role. The facilitator must also be commissioned by the group to not allow for favoritism, long speeches and must ensure that all voices are heard, otherwise members of the group whose ideas may be valuable may not get out on the table. The facilitator also must recognize when ideas or discussion on a topic are finished and no longer productive. The facilitator must be have a process that all will follow and that will ensure efficient resolution of issues. In other words, the facilitator is key to the process. It is often necessary to hire an experienced facilitator if an experienced volunteer cannot be found. The facilitator can either ruin a strategic planning session or make a strategic planning session. A good facilitator can be the difference between a strategic plan being completed in a timely manner and taking forever to complete.
Once the team is chosen and a facilitator is selected, then your group can move on to actually beginning the strategic plan.