The necessary actions to achieve your goals
August 11, 2023
The American author, Guy Kawasaki who is perhaps best known for his book The Art of the Start is very clear on the central importance of taking necessary actions to achieve goals.
He says this, “Organisations are successful because of good implementation, not good business plans”.
Schools, like other large organisations and businesses, spend a lot of time designing their strategy and thinking about the goals they want to set themselves in the short, medium and long-term future. But there is a growing body of research that suggests that designing an effective strategy is neither the most challenging part of the process, nor the part most likely to be at fault, in the event that targets are missed.
Successful implementation is the mechanism by which schools, and businesses alike, take deliberate, aligned actions to achieve their goals. In my own experience in leading in a number of successful schools, coming up with ideas, goals and targets is often the easy part; designing the processes, evaluating the progress and monitoring the outcomes that deliver those goals are the areas where strategy is shown to be effective, or otherwise.
Earlier this term, the Senior School Executive and Curriculum Leaders undertook a day’s professional learning as part of our ongoing focus on Professor John Hattie’s Visible Learning practices. At this halfway point in the year, the day was characterised by engaged and impassioned discussion as we reflected on our individual and collective activities aligned around the School’s current strategic plan. Each of our Senior School Deans and Heads of Department have formalised their strategic activities in an implementation plan that they are using to set out the actions being taken in their respective areas of responsibility. Our professional learning provided an opportunity to reflect on progress, to learn from each other, and also to be provided with new ways of thinking, particularly in relation to how we can gather and learn from robust evidence to monitor progress and set out next steps.
Underlying our shared experience is a commitment to developing in one of the areas identified by Professor Hattie as having a significant impact on student outcomes and learning – ‘Collective Teacher Efficacy’ (CTE). Teacher efficacy is described by Tschannen-Moran et al (1998) as ‘a belief about one’s own ability to promote positive change for students. CTE is how aligned teachers, collaborating around shared goals can create a momentum in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is about a commitment to change and a belief that we are each making a tangible difference in students’ lives each and every day by the actions we collectively take.
Implementation and strategy are perhaps not the most engaging concepts that you will read of today! But in a school, where we are in the business of transforming lives, achieving exceptional outcomes, and designing an outstanding School culture, the implementation and strategic work happening at TIGS this year is invigorating.