Strategic Planning at Saint Francis de Sales Schools

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CASE STUDY. This case tracks the emergence of a formal strategic planning project in a school system (disguised for the purpose of confidentiality), following its evolution from its official inception in 2007 through to the point in mid-2009 at which it came, unfinished, to a complete standstill.

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Strategic Planning at Saint Francis de Sales Schools: Abstract

This case tracks the emergence of a formal strategic planning project in a school system (disguised for the purpose of confidentiality), following its evolution from its official inception in 2007 through to the point in mid-2009 at which it came, unfinished, to a complete standstill.

The decision to undertake the process emerged in a context of extreme financial volatility overlaid with significant opportunities and challenges related to the school’s future existence and strength. Stakeholders of the school system had grown accustomed to repeatedly « re‐hashing » issues deemed to be critically important, though many had agreed that significant change within the organization was necessary. The bases for decision making and the implications of alternative decisions seemed inconsistent and unclear for some. There was also disagreement among employees, members of the Board of Trustees, and even the parent body on some of these issues. The idea of a strategic plan was discussed and agreed upon by a group of members of the Board of Trustees. The process of plan development was ultimately launched with the goal of providing directional grounding for critical strategic choices to be made.

Teaching objectives

This case has four learning objectives:

  • To explore how and why barriers to strategic planning may emerge that prevent completion of a strategic plan
  • To examine the complexities of strategic planning in a pluralistic context in which multiple stakeholders oversee the organization’s activities
  • To stimulate reflection on the potential need to adapt traditional strategic planning frameworks for volatile organizational contexts
  • To stimulate reflection on optimal approaches to strategic planning in volatile and pluralistic contexts

Additional information

Teaching notes are available for teachers only. Contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre for more information.

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