Strategic Planning

Create a focused district-level strategy that drives results

Our Perspective

When it comes to strategic plans, less is more

As districts strive to raise achievement in the face of ever-mounting challenges, it is more important than ever to have a dynamic strategic plan – one that drives action toward the district’s goals. We believe the most powerful strategic plans are not lengthy documents with a long list of initiatives, but rather are concise plans based on a theory of action and focused on a small set of priorities to drive improvement. Nonetheless, distilling diverse stakeholder perspectives into a focused list of priorities is extremely challenging.

Our Approach

DMGroup’s field-proven methodology for strategic planning is based on extensive research coupled with our experience working with districts to put powerful strategic plans into action to drive results. We begin by helping you hone a powerful theory of action about what will drive improvement in your district and position you to achieve your goals. Using this theory of action as our north star, together we’ll identify a short list of priorities, initiatives, and measurable goals that will guide the daily work of your district, and we’ll help you build stakeholder buy-in for the plan.

  • Build focus and a common understanding of priorities through a comprehensive needs assessment
  • Codify your district’s theory of action to guide the prioritization of goals, initiatives, and activities
  • Prioritize initiatives into a small set of the most important levers for improving performance
  • Harness aspirational visions and transform them into concrete goals and measurable outputs
  • Build understanding and support with our two-step community engagement process
  • Integrate the strategic plan into your district's day-to-day activities to drive results

Key Benefits

Gain focus and build support for a path forward

  • Develop an actionable strategy will help your district navigate tough tradeoffs and guide decision-making
  • Build support among stakeholders and buy-in for the district’s path forward
  • Realign how your district allocates limited resources to support key strategic objectives
  • Drive results with an action plan that enables you to track progress toward your goals
  • Better position the district to adapt to challenges with flexible scenario modeling

Consulting Services

Build student-centered budgets despite tight resources

Consulting Service

Strategic Plan Development


Create an actionable strategic plan to drive results. Using our strategic planning framework and methodology, we’ll help you craft a focused district strategy that will support your goals and raise achievement in the face of ever-mounting challenges.

Assess Needs

We begin by conducting a comprehensive needs assessment, gathering both quantitative information as well as qualitative input from the community. Our needs assessment provides a shared understanding from which to launch the planning process.

Codify a Theory of Action

We work with you to codify your district’s theory of action, the fundamental set of core beliefs about the drivers of long-term success. Together, we’ll reflect deeply on the context needed to successfully address the root causes of your district’s challenges. Once developed, your theory of action will guide prioritization of goals, initiatives, and activities in your school district.

Set Priorities and Goals

We help you distill a lengthy list of priorities down to a short, actionable list—five or six broad thematic areas that will propel the district to achieve its vision and mission. For each priority, we’ll articulate measurable goals to define success, so progress can be tracked.

Two-Step Community Engagement

We know that a strategic plan needs broad support to be implemented effectively, but building support is challenging work. We take a two-step approach to community engagement that creates deeper understanding of district needs as well as the trade-offs at hand. We’ll solicit stakeholder input early in the process and facilitate a series of community engagement meetings once the plan is drafted to provide essential insight into different perspectives, identify issues that may have been overlooked, and create an opportunity for feedback and reaction.

Consulting Service

Strategic Plan Implementation

Translate your strategic plan into well-defined initiatives and action steps that will drive results and help achieve the district’s long-term vision. Unlike other firms that simply deliver a report, DMGroup can work alongside you to implement your strategic plan, if desired. We’ll help you put the plan into action after defining initiatives and specific action steps that support your priorities and measurable goals.

Build Buy-In

DMGroup believes it is important broaden the group of stakeholders involved in developing the implementation plan, including many of those who will be charged with executing the plan. We’ll help you identify the right team and a process for working effectively together.

Define Initiatives

We work with you to determine a short list of specific initiatives or projects related to each priority area so that you can focusing your energies on high-impact work. We’ll start by taking stock of existing initiatives, perform a gap analysis to identify additional initiatives needed to achieve your strategic objectives, and deliver a finalized list of initiatives aligned with your strategic plan’s priorities.

Identify Action Steps

For each initiative, we’ll help you develop action steps that provide the details of what must occur, by when, and with whom involved to align all stakeholders in a common process and enable all involved to think in a structured manner about the future of the work.

Measure Progress

So that you can effectively evaluate the success of your district strategy, we’ll craft measurable goals for each initiative. We’ll also help you set up a monitoring system to regularly measure progress so that you can make data-driven adjustments to implementation as needed.

Consulting Service

Superintendent Entry Plan Development

When becoming a superintendent either for the first time or in a new district, a thoughtful, well-developed Superintendent Entry Plan can help establish a positive and constructive tone for a successful leader, resulting in a more effective and efficient superintendency. We’ll apply our strategic planning framework and methodology to help you develop a Superintendent Entry Plan that will guide your work in your new district.

Consulting Service

School Improvement Plan Development

Craft a clear and focused plan that will serve as an operational vehicle to drive a school’s successful improvement. We’ll leverage our strategic planning framework and methodology to help you unite diverse stakeholders around shared goals and develop an improvement plan with clarity and focus that endures as a long-term guide to school improvement.

Consulting Service

School Turnaround

DMGroup can help your school and district leaders be successful in the challenging work of school turnaround, using our strategic planning framework and methodology as a foundation. We’ll provide the training and guidance you need, a boost of extra capacity with in-district support, and analytical horsepower so that you can make data-driven decisions and effectively plan and execute a turnaround.

Looking for Professional Development?

We can provide customized professional development programs for your district to support your strategic plan development and implementation, including coaching, workshops for your leadership team, and retreat facilitation for your cabinet and/or school board.

Client Result

Sioux Falls School District (SD) set the course for improvement with a strategic planning process that rallied the district.

Read the Success Story

I did a lot of work with my board on strategic planning, and when it came time to actually craft an annual report and a yearly plan, I went to District Management Group.

Kelly Lyman, Superintendent Mansfield Public Schools (CT)

There isn’t a board meeting that goes by where we aren’t talking about how we are addressing our strategic plan. We are always referring back to our strategic plan. DMGroup’s approach helped us craft a strategic plan that drives our district’s work.

Dr. Brian Maher, Superintendent Sioux Falls School District (SD)

Where District Management Group has really helped us is by identifying areas aligned to our strategic plan, but raised to their data analysis, in areas that we could really benefit from having specific plans and benchmarks in place.

Dr. Brian White, Former Superintendent Chartiers Valley School District (PA)

Interested in something more specifically tailored to meet your needs?

DMGroup can provide custom-tailored support to help your school district in the area of developing a powerful district strategy and putting your strategic plan into action. If you have a unique need, reach out to let us know how we can help you.