My Headship Journey: Moving from Strategic Planning to Collective Action
By Matt Levinson, Head of School, University Prep, Seattle, WA
It’s one thing to design a strategic plan. It’s a lot more work to implement one as I know from experience.
At University Prep, a 6-12 grade school of 565 students in Seattle, we used a broad-based, inclusive, community-wide process to develop our strategic plan over 13 months. We started in November of my first year as head and approved the final plan in December 2015.
Our strategic plan was fueled by innovation, a hallmark principle since the school was founded in 1976 by seven enterprising public school teachers who set intellectual courage as a core value.
Strategic plan brainstorming in action with the full faculty at University Prep in Seattle. Credit: Mithun Architects
From the beginning, we knew we needed a model to keep innovation moving at a strong pace while managing the school’s day-to-day operations. That meant we had to run with what Harvard Business School Professor of Leadership John Kotter calls dual operating systems, “the management hierarchy and the network,” in his Harvard Business Review article. The traditional management hierarchy handles the daily demands of leading an organization and ensures that the core business is attended to in a thoughtful and thorough manner. The network, meanwhile, focuses on innovation.