Dear Colleagues,This is the first of five weekly Superintendent’s Updates that I will be sending to you related to important strategic planning efforts that ultimately affect the work in all of our schools and departments. I wanted to send these to you so that everyone in the district had a common understanding about what each element is and how we will use them to support our mission of providing a quality education for the 55,000 children we serve. I hope you will take a few minutes to read each of them.
In learning about Plano ISD prior to applying for the Superintendent position and during the selection process, I felt that the district articulated the right goals and values in its strategic plan documents. To be clear, what made them "right" for me was that they charged the organization with supporting the growth of students, teachers and staff in ways that were far more enlightened than what is appearing in many other places.
Driven by a desire to show that they believe in "high-stakes accountability," districts all over America have pursued narrow, test-driven strategic outcomes. Often this approach has had the effect of devaluing or even impeding the very professional actions that research has time and again shown create high-performing cultures that make a positive difference for both students and teachers. We will not do that here.
The challenge that I saw, however, was that there was really no purposeful way to ensure that these important goals and values drove action throughout the organization. Additionally, we really did not have longitudinal outcome indicators that helped us measure our success in ways far more meaningful than what you see in so many places.
With that in mind, we set on a fairly methodical and inclusive course designed to "operationalize" our strategic plan. What has been developed can be displayed somewhat simplistically as follows:
In each coming Friday, I will review in order the four elements identified under Strategic Plan Goals in the chart above (Nothing says welcome to the weekend like discourse on Strategic Planning). Included in each of these Updates will be an explanation of the process we used to arrive at each element and why we want everyone to understand how they guide our decisions and our work—no matter where you serve in the organization.
Let me share with you a couple of thoughts that I have communicated to several groups as we have engaged in this work. I hope they make you want to read on with interest and perhaps make you feel good about what you are likely to find.
Peter Drucker has been recognized by many as the best thinker among a legion of individuals who have identified themselves as organizational leadership theorists. One of the most famous quotes associated with him was "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." If you learn from the Foundation that he ultimately created, you come to understand that Drucker didn't mean to imply that working strategically wasn't important. On the contrary, he spent a career helping organizations work more effectively and strategically. What he did convey with a great deal of thought and passion was that any strategic planning that doesn't attempt to build those aspects of culture that allow exemplary learning, work and leadership to emerge from all corners and levels of the organization is doomed to marginal success at best.
Secondly, I have shared with numerous audiences my belief that everything that is easy to measure isn't important—and everything that is important isn't always easy to measure. That is why the order of elements shown above is really important. We were very intentional about trying to work with a variety of internal and external stakeholders to first define what we felt was important with regard to the goals and expectations we set and the values and beliefs that would guide our work. Then we set about trying to develop indicators we would use to help us measure our success. Sometimes those will be quantifiable, data-focused measures. In other cases, it will be survey questions that seek the opinions of students, teachers, staff, parents and/or community members as they relate to important operational expectations. Both types of measures are important.
Let me conclude by once again saying "thank you" for all that you do to make Plano ISD a great place for children to grow and learn. I hope you will find each of the Updates to come to be both interesting and meaningful.
Dr. Brian T. Binggeli
Superintendent of SchoolsSuperintendent's Update | February 5, 2016