ISA wishes you the very best of the holiday season. In an effort to afford ourselves the opportunity to refresh and reflect, ISA will be closed from December 21st through January 6th. During this time, ISA staff members will be checking email, voicemail, and our Basecamp collaboration feeds only periodically. We wish you a safe and enjoyable holiday season and look forward to our work together in the New Year!
The Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee recently launched their strategic plan. The heritage-laden and leadership-rich leader in day and residential education in the Southeast, Baylor has a long history of building successful and innovative strategic plans. The result of over a year of effort at the board, administrative, and faculty levels, the Baylor School strategic plan stands out as a remarkable roadmap to the the future. You may download a copy in PDF format here.
Most of us develop strategies for our organizations on a regular basis. However, we often forget exactly what we are trying to accomplish in that strategy. In other words, to what end or intended outcome does each strategy accomplish? We think this fundamental issue has a lot to do with why a particular strategy is successful or not.
We have found that there are five distinct purposes or intended outcomes under which you can categorize any strategy. They are:
Achieving this goal will purely align with your mission.
Achieving this goal will be responsive or "catch up" to marketplace demands.
Element of Distinction
Achieving this goal will position your organization as the only one of a kind in a specific category.
Achieving this goal will produce revenue which can be invested back into program or product.
Achieving this goal will create disruptive change in the industry, altering the trajectory of the sector or changing the rules of the game in the future.
If your strategy does not meet any one these five criterial, you might want to question exactly what it does accomplish for your organization. A successful portfolio of strategies typically are balanced among the four distinct purposes listed above. For example, it is often best if your organization is meeting missional mandates, being responsive to the market demands, creating new distinctions, and generating new revenue to invest in program.
Remember a strategy is in and of itself not enough. It must be intended to accomplish a specific objective. Understanding what you are trying to accomplish and aligning your strategies accordingly is a best practice in planning.
Finally, look to your vision to help formulate strategy. If your organization does not have a vision, or have answered the question of “why” you do what you do, then it is time to go back to the woodshed. We will talk about the importance of vision in formulating strategy in our next post.
Ian Symmonds & Associates is pleased to welcome Dr. Gary Daynes to our consulting team. Gary will join our team as a consulting associate, leading strategic efforts with our clients in both (isa) education and (isa) nonprofit. He offices and lives in Eastern North Carolina.
Gary Daynes has over twenty years experience as a professor, author, school leader, and innovator. Through those years, though, his work has focused on a few key beliefs: that communities must organize themselves in order to flourish, that schools are essential parts of flourishing communities, and that the relationship between teachers and learners is the key factor in educational success. Gary is a listener, a problem-solver, and a conceptual thinker. He’s also the father of four college-age daughters.
Gary has taught at large universities and small colleges on topics as varied as American intellectual history, community organizing, and the relationship between place and vocation. He has led initiatives on service-learning, learning communities, mentored student research, electronic portfolios, and retention, all with the purpose of deepening student learning. He has published and presented on the civil rights movement, social change in America, and the activism of Jane Addams. His current work focuses on the ways that small schools and small communities can succeed in the face of competition from larger institutions.
As a school leader, Gary served Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT as Associate Provost for Integrative Learning, and later as the Vice President for Strategic Outreach and Enrollment. He is currently the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Barton College in Wilson, NC where he has led academic affairs, enrollment management, and marketing for the college. Gary’s success in these leadership roles is based on his ability to work across boundaries--both organizational and human.
Gary is a civic leader as well. He co-founded the College Access Network of Utah, and chaired the boards of City Academy, an urban charter high school in Salt Lake City, UT, and the Utah Humanities Council. He is currently the board chair for the St. John Community Development Corporation, a non-profit sponsored by the St. John AME Zion church, and dedicated to the educational success of underserved children in eastern North Carolina. Gary is also a leader in economic development in eastern North Carolina, having just been part of a team to win a million dollar grant to start an innovation hub and co-working space in Wilson, NC.
Gary has led strategic planning efforts for non-profits, K-12 schools, and independent colleges.
Marymount School of Santa Barbara (CA) has selected Ian Symmonds & Associates as their strategic planning partner for their upcoming plan. Marymount of Santa Barbara is an independent school for boys and girls age 4 through 8th grade. Marymount places equal value on the intellectual, social and emotional, and ethical dimensions of learning. Our work will commence in March 2019 and continue on through the calendar year. We are excited to welcome Marymount of Santa Barbara to our client community.
Father Ryan High School in Nashville, Tennessee has launched a bold, new strategic plan. Feel free to download new plan - “Forming Lives of Excellence in the Catholic Tradition” - as a PDF file here.
Father Ryan’s mission is to be an experience of the living Gospel while challenging students to reach their spiritual, academic and personal potential. The school seeks to be a superior Catholic high school, providing excellence in religious and moral formation, academics, athletics, and the arts while remaining accessible to those seeking an education in the Catholic Tradition.
Founded in 1925 as Nashville Catholic High School for Boys, Father Ryan is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville. It was the first racially integrated high school in Tennessee.
Cascades Academy in Bend, Oregon has recently launched their new strategic plan. We are pleased to present our Strategic Plan, “Poised and Ready.” This plan is the culmination of 18 months of research, reflection, and community discussions that have resulted in an ambitious plan for the school’s exciting future. We are immensely grateful to the students, staff, parents, board members, and community partners who contributed their time and insight into creating such a forward-thinking plan. You can view the web version of their strategic plan here.
Cascades Academy was founded in 2003 in order to fulfill the need for an independent, PK-12 college preparatory school in Central Oregon. The school opened its doors on Studio Road in mid-town Bend with 61 students. In the fall of 2013, the school moved to a 21-acre campus in Tumalo, and added a third wing to its campus in 2017. Cascades Academy offers a challenging academic curriculum that integrates experiential learning, outdoor education, fine arts, and service learning. Small class sizes allow teachers to discover every student's unique potential - finding the right balance of challenge and support to help each student excel in a caring and dynamic community. Cascades Academy is an engaged, vibrant community that weaves challenging academics with experiential learning to inspire socially responsible individuals ready for a diverse and changing world.
The Avery Coonley School in Downer’s Grove, Illinois - part of the ChicagoLand Metropolitan area - has just launched their strategic plan. The Avery Coonley School is an independent day school for academically gifted students in Preschool-8th grade. Their mission is to provide a learning environment that is appropriate both for academically bright and gifted children who are motivated to learn and have demonstrated the potential for the scholastic achievement necessary to succeed in a challenging academic program, in order that they may become positive, productive, and respectful members of society. Check out the strategic plan here.
St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, Texas has launched their strategic plan. After a full 9 months of research, analysis, and planning, the school proudly launches “A Bold Plan for Excellence”, providing the roadmap for the next five years.
Saint Mary's Hall was founded in 1879 on the principles of knowledge, self-confidence, and respect for others. Originally organized by the Episcopal Church, Saint Mary's Hall is now an independent and coeducational campus for students and families of all faiths. Saint Mary's Hall creates a culture of trust where every student is known. Recognized as an academic powerhouse, SMH echoes the offerings of a liberal arts college with a rich, rigorous curriculum, passionate, expert faculty, extensive fine arts, and a competitive athletic program with unique sports offerings. Graduates go forth confidently armed with the skills, knowledge, and self-awareness needed to thrive in college and find fulfillment in life.
Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley in the Bay Area of California recently launched their strategic plan. The strategic plan was launched during a social gathering at the art gallery Kala Art Institute located in Berkeley, on October 2018. Parents, trustees, alumni students, parents as well as faculty and staff joined the event to learn about the new plan. Read the PDF file of the plan here or check out the video above to learn more.
File this one under the “for what it’s worth or “news you can use” category.
We’ve just finished several powerful strategic projects for our clients across the nation, as well as launched brand new projects over the past few weeks and months. Add a keynote speaking engagement for MISBO at Hilton Head Island in October, as well as contributing to an upcoming featured story for the Enrollment Management Association, it feels like we have really had the opportunity to be in touch with what people in the independent school field are feeling.
Independent schools are starting to see the issues, the challenges, and are grappling with them in an honest way that I have not seen in the past. There appears to be a building awareness among those that I connect with of three main strands of thought:
The business model of independent schools is broken, was never sustainable, and is in the process of being recalibrated.
The classroom has already changed and will never be the same; it is up to us to adjust to a new learning and teaching environment.
Delivery of education in the future may undergo as radical of change as we have seen in retail, transportation, and entertainment.
It is a good moment in time. Awareness is a powerful start for creating the necessary change in our model. I sense more urgency as a result of the awareness of the issues at hand. I still believe that independence remains the most powerful attribute of independent schools and colleges. We can exercise our independence by leading the change in the education industry. I see leaders and school communities wrestling with this new reality with a renewed sense of purpose. This is a critical first step at moving the industry sector forward.
We are excited to announce the completion of the strategic plan for Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York. “Redefining Excellence: Learning Beyond Boundaries” is Hackley’s contribution to the national conversation on the changing nature and future of education. Learn more by reading the innovative and bold plan here.
Most people believe the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a story of good overcoming evil. It is a heartwarming story of community building, family life, and good old American values.
And, if you are me, you also believe it is a story of vision and relevance, the real stuff of strategy.
Most of us know the story all too well. In the famed holiday movie, It's a Wonderful Life, we witness a classic battle of good and evil. George Bailey has grown up in Bedford Falls and wants desperately to leave, to start a new life, and get on with living, just like his older brother. But, we learn quickly in the movie that George Bailey is perhaps the only person in Bedford Falls uniquely qualified to save the city from the dreaded Mr. Potter. Foregoing a honeymoon and a fresh start in a new city, George saves the bank - and the community - from collapse on that dreaded day when there was a rush on the bank.
But, what would have happened if George would have left? What if he had not used his honeymoon money to save the bank, keeping it open, and creating true competition in the marketplace against Mr. Potter? Later in the movie we had a chance to see what that would look like, when George had a dream - or a nightmare - of what would have happened if his life had not been lived. And, as the dream unfolded, Bedford Falls had turned into Pottersville - a community of low-life villains. It turns out that George Bailey was perhaps the most uniquely qualified person in a community to bring about transformational change and forward movement. And, without him, there was no catalyst to face Mr. Potter.
If George Bailey did not exist, Bedford Falls would likely not exist.
We can learn a lot from It's a Wonderful Life. What would happen if you drove up to your school, college, or non-profit and it was gone tomorrow? It was a life never lived. It never existed. Who would be the bigger losers - the current faculty and students - or the larger community?
Independent schools and colleges do not have a divine right for existence. They must continue to inspire and be relevant to changing times, making valuable contributions to the outside world through their work. And, an extraordinary and inspiring vision is necessary to do this.
An inspiring vision must be relevant. It cannot be about the organization, but rather about contributing to the greater community a valuable solution to a unsolved problem. Most of the world's greatest organizations are effective because they have extraordinary visions. Consider these examples:
—Google - To organize all the worlds information and do no harm in the process.
—Apple - To constantly challenge the status quo.
—Southwest Airlines - To open the skies.
There is a lot we can learn about our organizations by applying The George Bailey Test. It gets right down to heart of relevance. And relevance is ingredient number one in creating a great vision.
I am feeling a bit nostalgic today as I remember the wisdom and philosophy shared to the world by Peter Drucker. There is nothing like a Peter Drucker quote to remind us of the importance of our work. The late management guru understood how the world worked and the role of the nonprofit in that context. In one simple but prophetic quote he inspired me at 38 years old to be about the business of leading schools, colleges, and nonprofits for the rest of my life.
Ian keynoted last week at the annual MISBO Conference in Hilton Head, South Carolina. His talk, focused on answering “Three Critical Questions for the Future”, included the following questions:
What is the role of education in the future?
What should “high quality” education cost?
How should education be delivered?
The talk focused on practical answers to these questions. In the course of the keynote, there was strong discussion around the topic of educational institutions moving from the knowledge acquistion industry to the skills acquisition industry. The PDF file from the talk can be downloaded here.
The Epilepsy Foundation has selected Ian Symmonds & Associates as a partner to develop the next strategic plan. Our work will commence with a national meeting in Scottsdale this month with leaders across the nation. We will continue to work with the Foundation and partners through the fall, winter, and spring. We are excited to welcome the Epilepsy Foundation to our client community.
The Epilepsy Foundation is the only national organization dedicated to helping people pursue seizure freedom.
“The Mission Of The Epilepsy Foundation Is To Lead The Fight To Overcome The Challenges Of Living With Epilepsy And To Accelerate Therapies To Stop Seizures, Find Cures, And Save Lives.”
The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with over 50 local organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against seizures since 1968. The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. They work to prevent, control, and cure epilepsy through community services, public education, federal and local advocacy, and supporting research into new treatments and therapies. They work to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential.
Waterford School in Sandy, Utah has just launched their new strategic plan. “Waterford Rising” is a bold strategic plan that builds upon the past and inspires an innovative future. Waterford School is led by Andrew Menke, head of school, and is located in the greater Salt Lake City area. Click on the above image to learn more about the strategic plan on their website.
Since its founding in 1981 by Nancy and Dusty Heuston, Waterford School has boldly pursued the idealism of an educational experience that prepares students to lead lives of meaning and purpose. In a world more interdependent and interconnected then at any time in human history, our new strategic plan – Waterford Rising: Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future – affirms our commitment to the breadth of the liberal arts experience and its profound durability to stimulate intellect, ignite passion, shape character, and inspire a life-long love of learning.
High Mountain Institute (HMI) in Leadville, Colorado has selected Ian Symmonds & Associates for strategic planning services. Our work will commence this highly unique organization this fall. We are excited to welcome HMI to our client community and family.
HMI is both an academic school and a wilderness programs provider. As a fully-accredited independent school, HMI brings high school juniors and seniors from all over the world to their campus in Leadville, Colorado for a single semester of place-based academics and wilderness expeditions. In this environment, students can connect with their best self and become more engaged learners, community members, and citizens.
As a summer programs provider, HMI offers courses for middle and high school students with an emphasis on backpacking in the Colorado Rockies, intellectual inquiry, and experiential education—all to spark a desire for exploration and growth, and to set students on a path of self-discovery.
Finally, as a gap year provider, HMI leads high school graduates on three-month traveling courses through Patagonia and the American West where students pursue outdoor adventure while gaining experience in the field of environmental conservation. By taking this time for exploration, students are set up to make the most of college and beyond.
If you are looking for a relaxing and thoughtful read to finish your summer, check out "Stepping Stones", available on Amazon here. Good friend and colleague Kent Bicknell has just released a book that outlines the history of Sant Bani School in. central New Hampshire. We got to know both Kent and the school very well several years ago as we completed a comprehensive strategic plan for Sant Bani School. Kent served as the founding head, long-time leader, and resident historian.
According to Amazon, "Stepping Stones narrates the fascinating history of Sant Bani School and its rapid growth into a dynamic educational day program in central New Hampshire. With a focus on the early years (1973-1978) founding head Dr. Kent Bicknell offers an in-depth account of the spiritual and educational roots of the school as it developed a curriculum based on the understanding that all life is connected. Along with a description of the relation of the school to two spiritual teachers from India, Dr. Bicknell provides a link to the educational theories of the 19th century Transcendentalists, Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Alcotts. Contemporary newspaper articles and photographs from the initial years help bring the story to life. Be prepared to wonder, to laugh, to learn – and to be drawn to visit the school's vibrant campus today (www.santbani.org)."
If you are a school historian and enjoy the challenges, chronicles, and journey of founding a new school and building an educational philosophy, check out "Stepping Stones". It is thoughtful and in-depth account of a vital school in the central New Hampshire region.
St. Mary's Academy in Portland, Oregon has selected Ian Symmonds & Associates for research and consulting services. Our work will commence in August and continue throughout the fall. We are excited to welcome St. Mary's Academy into our client community and family.
St. Mary’s Academy is Oregon's oldest continuously-operating secondary school. A nationally recognized school of excellence, St. Mary's is an established Catholic all-girls college-preparatory high school that readies students for the future. With a more than 150-year tradition of educating young women, St. Mary's continues to serve a diverse school community and offer a challenging academic program that fosters the development of the whole person. St. Mary's is large enough to provide a wide variety of experiences, yet small enough to focus on the individual needs of each and every student, as we have done for 10,000 young women since 1859.
St. Mary's urban setting in downtown Portland enhances the school's curriculum with unique access to enriching educational and cultural opportunities that complement the classroom experience. The school enjoys many partnerships with companies, educational and artistic institutions, nonprofit agencies, and local and global leaders expand the experiences and impact of our students every day.