Education is a pretty predictable industry. It tends to follow similar calendars, cycles, processes, and systems. Sometimes that is a very reassuring attribute. And, sometimes it can lead us away from thinking differently about our circumstances.
Most schools and colleges spend an average of 9 months to create a strategic plan. They gather lots of data and input, engage their stakeholders, and then create a set of priorities that were formed from the feedback. At the end of the process, they build a communication program and launch the new strategic plan to great fanfare. Hopefully, they follow the plan and implement as intended, communicating with their people all the way. Five years later, they will probably do it again. Pretty predictable cycle, right?
What if we created strategic plans and then didn't share them? No kidding. Not with anyone. Instead, we just decided to DO them. Like major companies do. Think about Google for a moment. They don't need a keynote presentation to share their new software. They quietly engage us for our advice and then, one day, a new product designed just for us emerges. Some of the new products delight us and others dismay us and they fail. But, regardless, they are dedicated to the act of DOING, not SAYING, what they are going to do.
Actually, I am not advocating that we stop communicating about our strategic plans. Good communication plays an important role in closing the feedback loop with our tribe of support, creates a foundation for a campaign, and builds trust in the community. But, I have noticed that schools and colleges love to tell the world where they are going yet tend to be very slow and inflexible in living out their plans. Wouldn't it be an interesting exercise to finish a strategic plan and not communicate it with anyone? And, then, after a couple of years of implementation, go back and ask stakeholders what they think the school or college priorities are at the moment. That would give us a good sense of whether our actions were speaking for us.
Let's focus more on DOING than SAYING. We all know that action speak louder than words. Excellent communication is an important goal in itself. But, let's not confuse activity with meaning. People care about what we do, not what we say.