HELPING A SCHOOL BOARD SET AND STAY THE COURSE IN CHANGING TIMES
Board of Immaculate Conception High School
For several years, Strategic Innovation has helped the Board of Immaculate Conception High School in Elmhurst, IL align around important issues, set clear objectives, and work toward their goals. When we first met, the Board had just been formed as part of an initiative that separated ICHS from the IC parish. As an independent Catholic high school, IC needed a strategic plan that ensured three things:
A competitive “product” that would attract the best and brightest students
An engaged group of faculty, parents, and other key stakeholders
The financial success to survive and grow
Using a structured visual facilitation process, Jane helped the IC Board explore the context in which they operate and worked with them to update their vision to reflect changing social economic factors. During that first session, the group developed the following map of where they were and where they wanted to be.
The picture may seem simple, but it actually represents a day and a half of discussion captured on a series of specific maps and on pages and pages of flip charts created by working groups in break-out sessions, presented back to the whole group, ranked, and prioritized. This process itself was a key part of the consensus building for the Board members that helped ensure that they were all on board. The maps then became an important communication tool for sharing the Board’s thinking with other important individuals and groups. Keeping this broader view in sight helped the IC Board zero in on specific opportunities and quickly align around the actions needed to move forward.
When we met two years later, the overall direction was consistent, but the changes in the economy and some specific opportunities and challenges caused the Board to fine-tune where they were headed and to redefine some of the bold steps needed to get there.
In their most recent meeting, the IC Board agreed that their overall map remained the same, but that they needed to revisit the Board Structure they had identified six years before. The group spent their time working to make sure that the Board had a process to build capacity and sustain their momentum as key members leave and new talent is recruited, mentored, and held accountable. The process they developed will ensure that they honor those members who are leaving the Board by identifying ways for them to continue to contribute. It also focuses on a system for identifying talent/skills gaps, finding great candidates, providing them with a meaningful orientation, and initiating a mentoring process that will help them succeed. All of this will ensure a smooth transition so that they don’t lose their momentum and miss opportunities.