As you’ll learn from the video interview I recently recorded with Board President Andrew Brodie and Executive Director Tina Kerr of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, Launch Michigan is truly what is known as an “out of the box” strategic initiative. Out of the box because it is truly sui generis – not merely incremental innovation within an established, budgeted program with an institutional home. Strategic because of its intended far reaching, fundamental impact on K-12 funding and student achievement in Michigan. Launch Michigan is also, as Andrew and Tina point out, unique because of the diverse coalition of business, philanthropic, civic, and K-12 leaders who are spearheading this ambitious innovation initiative.
Our readers should note that Launch Michigan did not emerge from one of those formal long-range, comprehensive strategic planning processes laying out strategies and plans for three, five, or ten years. As you well know, these so-called “strategic” planning processes are notorious for weighing down shelves with little consulted, dust-gathering tomes, and also for generating little or no significant innovation for all the effort – and paper – expended. Experience – and extensive research – have taught me, along with, I’m sure, many if not most of our readers, that 90 percent or even more of the content of traditional long-range institutional plans consists of projections of existing programs and activities into the future. This is to say that it is essentially operational in nature and comfortably ensconced within the proverbial box.
Over the past decade, we’ve experimented with real-time, opportunistic innovation-focused planning processes like the one that the leaders involved in Launch Michigan employed in incoming up with this high-stakes innovation initiative. One increasingly popular process is described in a nutshell in Chapter 9 of my new book, Building a High-Impact Board-Superintendent Partnership:
In recent years a very powerful change-focused planning logic and methodology have been developed and successfully tested that offer a tremendous opportunity for meaningful, high-impact board engagement. Popularly known as the “Change Investment Portfolio Process,” it is run parallel to, and separate from, your district’s business-as-usual operational planning/budget development process, generating out-of-the-box change in the form of concrete projects that I call “change initiatives.” These change initiatives are housed in your district’s “Change Investment Portfolio,” where they are pilot-tested and eventually mainstreamed into the annual budget and ongoing operations – or occasionally abandoned if they’ve proved unworkable.
Of course, Andrew, Tina and the MASA Board followed a similar logic in making the decision to provide significant funding support for Launch Michigan and to play a leading role in the initiative. The decision was made in real time to capitalize on a significant opportunity to deal with a critical issue: K-12 reform in Michigan. Of course, MASA’s Change Investment Portfolio currently houses the Change Michigan initiative.