Think Strategically for a Better Future

Strategic Thinking

 By Larry Nyland and Pam Posey

January is the time of new starts and new resolutions. Never have we been so eager to turn a page and start anew. What can you do now to make 2021 a big improvement over 2020? Focus on leadership!

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren G. Bennis

For months we have been mired in the details, adjusting almost daily to the vicissitudes of COVID. Now is the time to lift our heads and chart a course toward a better tomorrow.

Charting our course for 2021

Strategic Thinking #1: The Big Why = Thrive & Survive – Simon Sinek & John Kotter

What will we be able to know and do by the end of 2020-21, or September 2021, that we can’t do yet? What conditions need to be in place to make that possible? The Big WHY, Simon Sinek says, helps us think big, think about meaning, and reminds us of purpose – why we signed up as educational leaders. John Kotter tells us that fear focuses us on survival, while opportunity encourages us to thrive. Pull your team together and think about goals that will give us purpose and passion.

Strategic Thinking #2: S.O.T. = Strategy | Operations | Tactics – Pam Posey

Make time for reflection and thinking ahead. Then chart backward to the day-to-day. Take time to make strategies drive operations and operations drive tactics. Then work with your team to help every level understand how tactics impact operations, how operations impacts strategies, and how strategy leads to success. Alignment and coherence gather momentum of their own as more of your team see how their work all fits together to move us forward toward common goals.

Strategic Thinking #3: Time Management = Important and Urgent – Stephen Covey

We have certainly seen the tyranny of the urgent over recent months. Now, as we look ahead at the next few months, we see three (four, actually) time horizons:

  • Tactics: What has to happen over the next two weeks? And who has to do it?
  • Operations: What about the next two months? Budget, Staffing, Evaluations. Who needs to be at this table?
  • Strategies: And the next two quarters? What can we be doing now to get ready for the return to in-school learning? What will we do about learning loss? SEL?
  • Longer Term: What needs to be addressed in the next two years? Spend some time thinking beyond COVID.

Make time over the coming weeks for each of these time horizons and how they work together.

Strategic Thinking #4: Emotions and Supports – Joseph Grenny

Successful change requires both will (emotion) and skill (facts). Responding to COVID has taught us much about the importance of emotions and fear. Acknowledging emotions, pain, loss, and fear is essential. Each of us needs someone to help us work through and talk out our fears. Skill is equally important. When we know better, we most often do better. Pointing to positive examples, unpacking the needed skills, and providing support are also essential.

Turn Vision into Reality

Gather your team and pick the Big WHY that will energize and mobilize your work. Then schedule time to think strategically about:

Strategic Thinking




Time Management

2 weeks

2 months

2 quarters
> 2 yrs

Will (acknowledging emotions)

Skill (growing capacity)

Your team needs you more than ever to look ahead and point the way.

Vision … is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more. – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

  • Pam Posey is an organizational development consultant with extensive experience in strategic planning.  Contact:

Learn More:

Posted in
Larry Nyland speaking

Larry Nyland – Leadership Coach and Consultant.
Seattle Schools superintendent 2014-2018

To talk about growing extraordinary "high capacity" leadership for your team …
Contact: | 425-418-4398 |