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So what exactly is strategy… and why does it matter for your school?

Professor Donald MacLean, StrategyStory /
16 April 2024

2 min read

StrategyStory co-founder Professor Donald MacLean explains what strategy is and how ISV's latest StrategyStory programs can help your school.

Strategy – it’s one of those ‘big’ words, that can mean many different things to many different people. This in itself can create unnecessary difficulties in your school. Differences can be really healthy, but when it comes to strategic action, it’s important that everyone is pointing in roughly the same direction.

This is especially salient just now when many schools are facing pressing financial pressures, struggling to recruit and/or retain staff, or are anxious to work with technology, rather than have it work against them:

‘In the Victorian context, in particular, there have been a lot of challenges. We have challenges around staffing and retention. We have [payroll] tax issues, a considerable amount of change fatigue and adapting to different scenarios,’ explains Nikki Maguire, Innovation & Learning Leader at ISV.

“Around two thirds of strategies fail. We can help you make yours count.”

Listen to more on the StrategyStory podcast and learn about the critical need for schools to embrace a strategic approach to address challenges, delve into the significance of storytelling to build community engagement and hear from the firsthand experience of Peter Sheahan, Principal at Waverly Christian College.

Your school, your strategy

So, how best can we navigate that landscape? Well, first of all by developing strategies that are much more likely to succeed. You might be familiar with a certain type of ‘strategy’ – regularly delivered in a weighty document that’s rarely read from cover to cover and, often, doesn’t reflect the real state of the organisation.

In truth, that isn’t really a strategy, and it’s probably why around two thirds of strategies fail. Good, effective strategies are generally simple, succinct and memorable. Strategies that people can understand. We’ll be aiming to get your school’s strategy onto half a page or less, while stimulating ideas and techniques to help involve your people in your school’s strategy.

So, what is strategy?

Strategy is a straightforward idea that integrates – and makes the most of – your capabilities and environmental trends as you try hard to rise to some challenge or realise an ambition. It’s like the rudder on the back of your sailing ship as your school navigates its way through changing conditions. Less of a rigid plan and more of a helpful means of steering.

Which is why we do it in a different way. Thanks to our academic and commercial experience, we make strategy a little simpler to work with, and much more likely to work.

To give you a flavour of what we mean, we’d like to take you to the waters of the beautiful West Coast of Scotland to answer the question: ‘So, what is strategy?!’ (No life jackets required).

So, what is on offer, and how can you sign up?

Whether you’re looking for rapid fire strategy to address a specific challenge or opportunity – or looking to craft a deeper story-driven strategy that stands the test of time – we have a tailored program to meet your school’s needs.

Click below to find out about the various programs on offer with ISV and StrategyStory.

Professor Donald MacLean is a co-founder of StrategyStory and has been working with ISV and Member Schools for over six years.

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