School leaders might want to rethink the next three- or five-year “strategic plan” process that will at some point land on their to-do lists.
I mean, we can scarcely plan for next week let alone next year, right?
What the chaos of the last 14 months or so is trying hard to teach us is that we’re entering a long period, maybe a permanent period of “no-normal.” As the author and philosopher Meg Wheatly writes in her brilliant essay “Willing to be Disturbed”:
But the world now is quite perplexing. We no longer live in those sweet, slow days when life felt predictable, when we actually knew what to do next. We live in a complex world, we often don’t know what’s going on, and we won’t be able to understand its complexity unless we spend more time in not knowing.
Trying to make concrete plans for this type of environment is exceedingly difficult. Yet, we don’t want to be in the mode of constantly reacting to events either.
Somewhere in the middle is an annual convening of what might be called a strategic design team that’s built on the new 3Rs for maintaining our relevance in the face of uncertainty, namely to reflect, reset, and reinvent.
Reflect, as in “What’s changed?” The last year has been fraught with challenges and changes. As individuals and as institutions, we are not the same as we were pre-pandemic, before the killing of George Floyd, and before Jan. 6, 2021. Those types of events and disruptions will continue. We need to be thinking deeply on a regular basis about how the fundamentals of the world continue to change inexorably and what impact those changes have on us both as individuals and institutions. To not do so guarantees our long-term irrelevance.
Reset, as in given what’s happened and what is happening, we need to ask “Who are we now?” It must become a habit to interrogate and audit our mission and our practice for their relevance to this new place we find ourselves in. What matters…