Leadership: Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail. Effective Action Planning.

action plan

Credited to: Obviously, the above plan was influenced by Fullan, Kotter and Lewin as well as the various leaders I have had the pleasure of working with.


action plan2

I start by listing the why at the top, normally this is a school improvement priority, this is to keep this at the forefront of your mind. Start at the right, detail your success criteria and note any opportunities of measuring it. Then move to what you ultimately want at that stage, and then finally to the who, how and when. The when is important, it not only allows you to hold other able but yourself too. The impact of setting a deadline is psychological, making anything time-sensitive creates a sense of urgency.


Increasing Urgency: All followers must be made aware of the environment and need for change. If done properly followers will manoeuvre themselves towards the change voluntarily. Additionally, it will provide the impetus for change.

Lewin refers to this as a frozen stage, we all heard people say ‘it’s just the way we do things around here’, work has to done to move organisations from this mindset to unfreeze.

Building the team: Thought must be given to who you bring to lead along-side. I would think around all staff including resistors in some cases and the dissonance will enrich them and refine the messages and actions of the initiative.

Getting the vision right: This is where as a leader you take a step back and guide, together with your team you build a joint vision, as long as the school priority is adhered to who cares where the vision comes from. Leadership is always about ‘we go’ and never about an individual ego.

Communicate for buy-in: Start this stage with building a language around the initiative, providing a coherent message. Plan for responses to resistor to engage and bring them on board. I advocate valuing dissonance here, engaging and not engaging is often driven through the same passion and harnessing this energy is part of your role.

Empower Action: Change agents will need resources to make to the initiative successful, as a leader how are you going to make this happen? Do they need times, training, money, self -efficacy, coaching, etc?

Creating short-term wins: Many initiatives lose their impetus because other day to day priorities get in the way. Keep the momentum through monitoring and celebrating wins, this keeps energy levels around the initiative high.

Don’t let up: Even if the initiative has far surpassed where you envisioned. Evaluate the initiative, forensically, learn from the failures and then adapt what you have and then repeat the process. Refine the process and vision, all the while recruiting more and more followers until it reaches its climax.

Make it stick: Ask yourself

Is the initiative worth keeping?

If the answer is yes then make it stick. Embed it into the culture of your organisation, make it a priority, write it into policy. Sustainable systemic change is the ultimate role of a leader and a great measure of one. Organisations are not built on individuals but the systems that they all follow. When leaders leaves do the systems continue seamlessly? or do organisation descend into chaos?

What you are essentially doing in this final stage is returning the organisation (in this aspect) to the frozen stage,  until you are ready to change it for the better.

Please do contact me if you want a copy of the original plan.



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