I was recently at a conference and one of the topics in a break out session was implementing school renewal initiatives with integrity. This got me thinking of all the different initiatives that get started within a school system. Every time there is a new leader something new is happening. With the amount of turnover in central office leadership, at the principal and even at the teacher level is it any wonder that everyone is cynical when it comes to new programs. These 3 signs are indicators that your brand new shiney plan will fail and are based off the presentation at the Achievement Centered Leadership conference.
You may have heard the saying if you’re trying to sell to everybody you’re not going to sell to anybody. The idea is you have to know exactly who your target audience is or your product will get lost among all the other products. The same idea applies here. You have to know specifically the portion of your student body that you are looking to impact with a new initiative. An example of this for our school is a mentor/internship program that we are rolling out for our seniors. We did a survey of parents and students asking what would be most beneficial in helping them learn future career goals. A mentor was the overwhelming common answer. The segment of the population you’re targeting and the new plan must be chosen based on the data that you’ve collected. If you don’t have a focused target your plan will fail
No Metric for Measurement
If you don’t have a way to measure success how will you know you’ve achieved it? Not only must you have a way to measure the outcomes of your plan you have to make sure that you are consistently monitoring progress. If we continue with the example above of the mentor program. We have to know what success looks like. One indicator of success could be the student's new depth of knowledge about the job they are exploring with their mentor. A consistent means of monitoring would be a weekly writing assignment where they journal what they’ve learned that week. At the end of the program a career fair in which they share what they’ve learned could be the final measure. Without a metric of measurement and knowing what success looks like any new initiative will fail.
Picking the wrong people is probably the biggest mistake that can be made. Knowing your staff and which ones will be able to carry out the task and buy in to the initiative are key components to any type of success. You might have a “favorite” staff member whom you typically tap to lead. Depending on what the initiative is this person may not be the right one for the job. In this case, it’s our job to select and grow another leader who is better suited. Not only does this ensure a greater chance for success but it creates that buy in. To complete the example scenario, I have a SLC (small learning community) leader that is usually the one who heads up school objectives. In this case the counselor and a member of the district from outside the school is helping to organize and run the program. This frees up the SLC leader to focus on other things, empowers the counselor, and creates a relationship with another member of the school community. Picking the wrong person to head a new initiative is a sure fire way for a new plan to fail.
Having an unfocused target, no means for measuring success, and picking the wrong personnel are 3 signs that your new initiative will fail. What are some other indicators you’ve come across that are warning signs? Please share your observations in the comment section below. If you’ve found the article helpful, entertaining, or cause for reflection please share with your colleagues.
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I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......