As CASBO embarks on CASBO by Design 2.0, the association’s fifth long-term plan in 18 years, it’s a good time to review our history with the discipline of organizational planning.
In very concrete ways, strategic planning has helped CASBO envision its future as a vibrant and significant association in support of public education. Having this type of road map has allowed CASBO to remain focused on its unique mission, goals and objectives, and to respond effectively to a continually changing environment.
The process has also allowed the association to make monumental changes, continue to grow and continue to increase its influence on public school advocacy and policy. Strategic planning and goal setting is a way of life and is part of the culture of CASBO. Simply put, it’s how the association does its work.
It’s also a philosophy which provides the organization with a new life cycle every three to five years. It’s a way to rejuvenate the association, to take a step back, observe the organization from many aspects and move the organization to another level. It’s a method to which CASBO is committed, and the commitment to the process runs so deep that it is included in CASBO’s Manual of Procedures (MOP).
The work behind CASBO by Design will chart the course for the organization in coming years by establishing a mission and goals, listing the steps to be taken to achieve these aims, creating action plans to get there and, finally, implementing specific steps. Due to the depth and breadth of the philosophy, and the associated highly prescriptive procedures, organizational planning is more than a goal-setting mechanism, it’s a belief system — a philosophy in which CASBO has invested.
What emerges from the philosophy and its prescriptive process is a living, breathing document that guides a group’s key movements for approximately three to five years. Rather than being a dusty binder on a shelf in Sacramento, CASBO by Design is a road map that is driven by the grassroots participation of literally hundreds of the association’s members who have volunteered at each step along the way.
CASBO uses a planning model based on the Cambrian Model (formerly known as the Cambridge Model) and is a planning discipline specifically designed 30 years ago by experts for use in the education arena.
It’s not a private-sector model, but rather a model that was designed to help educators invent their own future.
Our CASBO by Design process starts with the establishment of belief statements for the organization. At the start of each planning cycle, a committee made up of diverse CASBO members and professionals from outside the association meet for three days to spell out the group’s core beliefs and establish the areas of focus. The key strategies identified by the planning team are later passed on to action teams charged with creating the steps to meet these general goals. At this point, the entire plan is reviewed and approved by the board of directors. Another set of groups, the implementation teams, then do the legwork to make the goals a reality for members. Throughout the process, a facilitator monitors plan progress and keeps implementation on task.
Our process also establishes an annual review process under which the chosen strategies are evaluated, and the timing for implementation of specific tasks can be adjusted based on real-time issues.
Another key to CASBO by Design is its requirement that the plan and its later implementation be driven by a large number and diverse cross-section of members. By its very nature, strategic planning calls for a grassroots movement guided by the goals and needs of the membership, not the governance.
The grassroots nature of the planning philosophy carries over to the implementation phase of the plan. It takes literally hundreds of CASBO members, along with the organization’s staff, to implement each plan of action.
In addition to creating a living plan, the strategic planning model behind CASBO by Design ensures that no single official or member can alter the document based on personal objectives. If it hasn’t been spelled out in the plan, it’s not up for consideration.
The model works, as is evidenced by the successes that have come from CASBO's previous plans, including: a focus on professional development and certifications for members, the association's Internet presence, establishment of a Sacramento-based staff and autonomy among CASBO’s far-flung membership sections, improved marketing of the association, the hiring of an in-house legislative advocate, the redefining of the association’s governance structure, and the creation of online learning opportunities.
CASBO by Design begins in the mind’s-eye of planners and then becomes a living document that literally guides the organization for three to five years, providing both momentum and the vehicle for beneficial change.
CASBO by Design is facilitated by former chief business official and CASBO Past President Pearl Iizuka.