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Teachers College Columbia University

Strategic Agility in Practice: Leading Change in Uncertain Times in k12 Educational Organizations

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Learning to lead change is a critical area of professional growth for school leaders. The challenges of thinking and executing strategically have perhaps never been as pervasive as they are now. In today's organizational environment characterized by intensifying change, uncertainty, and ambiguity, how do school administrators create value for children, families, teachers, and administrators in K12 schools?

Strategic Agility in Practice provides K12 school administrators with the tools, practices, and skills to lead change initiatives successfully by strategically repositioning their organizations to become more competitive in terms of 1) student enrollment and demographics, and 2) talent recruitment, management, and retention. Strategic agility is the ability of leaders to respond in real-time to change and uncertainty, consciously using tools and practices to effectively apply strategic thinking for institutional learning and creating innovative solutions that establish a sustainable advantage for their education organizations. Specifically, Strategic Agility in Practice supports administrators to engage in strategic thinking and strategic learning in ways that impact both organizational development and personal leadership development simultaneously.

On the individual level, participants experience personal benefits through reflective practice, exposure to the latest research, analysis of multiple leadership inventories, and exposure to divergent points of view. On the organizational level, participants work alongside colleagues to simultaneously learn, apply, and adapt strategic agility tools and strategies for common problems of practice, including: enrollment and changing demographics, leading change initiatives, and talent management.

Examples of applications of the tools and practices in educational institutions are provided throughout this hands-on two-day workshop.

Strategic Agility in Practice builds leaders’ capacity for strategic thinking, skill development, and a greater openness to leading school improvement and change initiatives.

This two-day program provides participants with the tools and practices to effectively apply strategic thinking for organizational learning and creating innovative solutions that establish a sustainable advantage for their organizations. The participants will leave with an enhanced ability and practical tools to apply these practices in their organizations, specifically in the areas of: 1) student enrollment and demographics, and 2) talent recruitment, management, and retention.

Built around frameworks tested and applied in a range of organizational and institutional settings, this program helps participants to apply key strategic learning tools and practices for creating strategic insights, identify the most important stakeholder or member of the stakeholder value chain, and foster alignment for leading strategic change.

SESSION TOPICS will include:

  • The implications of complexity and ambiguity for strategic thinking and innovation
  • Problems when organizations do not think strategically
  • Overcoming the paradox of experience: Key strategic learning practices
  • Understanding the real competitive advantage
  • Strategic Visualization and Innovation
  • The importance of understanding an organization’s value chain in developing effective strategies
  • Moving from a strategic mindset to organizational innovation, alignment, and strategy execution
  • Overcoming resistance to change
  • Integrating strategic learning tools into existing organizational structures of K12 schools
  • Case studies from K12 educational settings (traditional public, charter, private, independent) focusing on the issues of 1) student enrollment and demographics, and 2) talent recruitment, management, and retention.


During the program you will learn and experience:

  • An improved capability for using strategic thinking tools and practices
  • Building enhanced capacity for strategic alignment
  • An approach for leading strategic conversations
  • Identifying the Most Important Stakeholder in your organization's Value Chain
  • A method for determining your organization's Value Curve to identify your strategic Elements of Performance
  • Finding your Strategic Mindset Skills and Competencies
  • Assessing your organization's strategic innovation culture
  • Strategic approaches to managing change initiatives relating to 1) student enrollment and demographics, and 2) talent recruitment, management, and retention.

Key Takeaways include:

  • Enhanced capacity to think strategically and to learn from experience
  • Practical tools for thinking strategically and overcoming organizational barriers to gaining alignment and execution
  • Heightened observation and questioning capability to reveal strategic opportunities
  • A strategic mindset for creating breakthrough innovation and proving stakeholders value
  • Action plan for your organization to manage change initiatives relating to student enrollment and/or teacher recruitment and retention

Who should attend

This program is for high potential leaders, including Principals, Superintendents, Administrators, and Executive Directors, in positions requiring enhanced strategic thinking or who are transitioning into new roles requiring them to move from making tactical to strategic decisions in an institutional environment of increasing complexity and ambiguity. Leaders of public and private P12 organizations are encouraged to attend.


Dr. Sarah E. Benis Scheier-Dolberg is the Associate Director of the Urban Education Leaders Collaborative (UELC) and Summer Principals Academy | New Orleans (SPA|NOLA) at Columbia University Teachers College. Dr. BSD is a faculty member in SPA|NOLA, co-teaching the Introduction to Leadership and ...
Lyle teaches courses in adult learning, strategy development as an organization learning process, strategic human resource development, and research. He is also a lecturer in the Executive Master of Science Program in Technology Management at the School of Professional Studies, Columbia Universit...
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