National Writing Project

Directors Retreat Strategic Planning Tools

By: Susan Connell Biggs, Nick Coles
Date: April 23, 2009

Summary: These strategic planning tools—a strategic planning template, timeline, and collaborative review of action plans—will help site leaders generate collective vision and set priorities for future development.



Strategic planning is an important continuity process that takes place at local sites, which can result in both leadership development and a more sustainable site. Often, it grows out of an inquiry process involving site leaders, program leaders, teacher-consultants, and sometimes stakeholders as well.

Strategic planning allows writing project sites to generate a collective vision and set priorities for future development. It can take place in a single meeting, at a weekend visioning retreat, or over a period of several months.

At the Directors Retreat, site leaders (working in teams of two) engage in a collaborative inquiry process, then use the following planning tools to both outline and refine plans for the development of a key piece of work at their local site. The tools are for thinking through and planning an "action" that is part of a larger strategic approach to a site issue or, more generally, to site management. As part of the inquiry into the work of their site, site leaders begin by figuring out a starting place for change or growth, and then use the tools to move forward on one aspect of a larger plan.

The focus could be on creating a new structure, process, or program, or improving an existing structure, process, or program, in order to help the site achieve strategic goals.

Putting the Tools to Use

When sites set out to implement their plans, they are reminded to continue to ask questions of their plan, review its progress, and make necessary changes. It is important also to document the work as the plan is put into action. Over time the plan can become a valuable historical resource that helps guide future strategic planning and mentor new leaders at the site.

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