…planning – take-a-way 1 from #21stedu – part 2…

So, I’ve had two full weeks to consider my key thoughts & learning from this year’s #21stedu Vancouver Symposium for Christian Education. I am now confident to publish my #1 take-a-way. I know it is my #1 because of how many times this topic – by example and non-example – has surfaced this month both in reality and memory…

This year’s conference confirmed in my mind the amount of change that a school, organization, and individual must undergo in order to remain ‘current’, ‘with-it’, and ‘educated’. Certainly there exists an option to remain ‘dated’, ‘staunchy’, and ‘ignorant’, but that is not an option I am interested in. Rather, I must commit my school and myself to learning & speaking this new language, exchanging & producing this new currency, writing & performing this new music genre. As a fellow servant-leader at my school, I must re-double my efforts to learn all that is available for education & vocation for the staff & students in my care so I am able to help train & mentor those willing to join me on this great sinusoidal journey.

Because change is happening at such a growing rate and because our technologies are creating a space & expectation of instant access, now more than ever I must communicate and model vision & leadership for my school. But, in order to do this, I must commit myself to the time and effort of planning these items to best help them take shape. Therefore, my first key take-a-way from #21stedu for 2012 is PLANNING.

John is a principal who I have had the pleasure of getting to know these past two years. This year he shared with me that his school had just finished producing a Strategic Plan. Their school now has a 1-3-5-10 year detailed plan according to specific goals. I gasped and asked, “How was that for you?” He replied with the answer I absolutely did not expect, “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to our school. I now know exactly where we are and exactly where we are going. Now I just need to stay the course and do it.”


Wow, what a document they have. What a great communication, vision, and purpose tool at their fingertips. I am envious of that school…and I look forward to getting a face-to-face update at next year’s Symposium. No doubt that took months and months to prepare – weeks and weeks of prayer and meetings and debates – edits and revisions and re-dos…but what a document on the back-end. Wow… Planning
IMHO, planning is the ingredient necessary to communicate vision. Planning is vision worked into a step-by-step experience.
I am a terrible planner. Terrible. Terrible. I have a wake of destruction in my past with regards to planning. Here are a few horrifically embarrassing professional & personal examples…from the near past:
  • Two weekends ago I spend 20+ hours at school getting ready for our external evaluation that happens every 2nd year. Now, I try very hard to not work evenings and weekends unless I have to. But, the sour part of this weekend was that I did a month’s worth of work in two days (isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish with no distractions, no interruptions, no pressing situations). At the same time, isn’t it sad that I left this work until the weekend before it was due rather than doing it when I had originally assigned it to my staff? (past students/current staff…are you reading this??? #ouch) 20+ hours now, or 20+ hours in Sept/Oct…it’s the same time either way. But, I caused so much collateral damage this way – to my family, to some of my staff, and to myself as well. This time-intensity & pressure could have been avoided. Planning
  • June 2011’s quarter 4 report card process & high school awards night might have been the near-end of a few of our office ladies. Bless them. Fortunately for me, this was our current Lead Secretary’s first month…so…so…so…so she didn’t know any better. Why did I leave so many of the tasks I knew about ahead of time until the last day? Why did I plan to and still decide to drive the bus for our Grad’s photos that day? Why did I not delegate some of the data-driven tasks to others who were willing to help earlier in the week? I have bad answers to these questions. All the overtime, the stress, the last-hour heroics – really, the collateral damage that effected so many involved – it was honestly just really immature. And, this could have been avoided. Planning
  • On my way home from #21stedu I was issued a very, very, very expensive ticket for failing to produce a valid driver’s license. ‘What?’ you may be asking. ‘What?’ was exactly what I was asking… But, yes, my birthday had come two weeks prior and, although I had been reminded both by ICBC and by my lovely, beautiful, and brilliant wife, I failed to change over my license. Not speeding…just camera scanned and flagged…because I don’t have a driver’s license…awesome… And, this could have been avoided. Planning
  • In this year’s high school schedule I had to make a difficult decision for our staff and students in this last hours before the start of the semester. I had known about this problem issue since August…but I had also assumed that I could arrange an acceptable solution. As it currently sits, it did not end up in a way I am happy with and proud about. And, yes, this too could have been avoided. Planning

‘I promise to lead’. Nice picture – take from a wall in this Men’s salon in Victoria, BC. Speaking doesn’t scare me…neither do hard conversations – these are skill areas for me that have come naturally for me and that I have worked at in previous jobs and experiences. What does worry me is sitting down and planning – looking ahead – putting what is in my head down onto paper in a way I can hand it off to someone. I’m great in the moment, but I lack the communication of systematic detail work of orchestrating and building a future vision.


Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People had a great time management table:

This photo has caused me much reflection. I must work harder to find make time for quadrant 2 activities. Not urgent…but very, very, very important. Planning

An area of thinking I haven’t explored yet is how closely linked planning is to organization. In the mean time, this might be a great chance to share the book I’m currently reading, Getting Things Done by David Allen. A good friend, Richard, who has a budding career full of creativity, leadership, and God-given potential, recommended this to me. He also has three young children…so his time is perhaps being stretched more now than at any other period of his life. This book helped him. So, I too am giving it a listen. I’m three-quarters the way through…and yes…it is quite good…

Another book I have just ordered is ‘First Things First’. I loved the 7 Habits…and I hope to get as much from this one as I did from the original.

Action plan: Well, for schools and administrators, I explain May and June like a Jack-In-The-Box: just keep winding until it pops. There are many small things and three major things that are on my schedule for the next month. To take a cue from this post in either a ‘put your money where your mouth is’ or a ‘like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly’ kind of way, I have committed myself to Tuesday and Thursday nights in May and June for extra planning and detail work. It is my hope that these extra dedicated work times will help provide school-time to be available for in the moment issues and staff, and so that I am ready and prepared for all the these two ‘Jack-In-The-Box’ months will bring.

What are some of your planning tips & secrets? I’m all ears 😉

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11 thoughts on “…planning – take-a-way 1 from #21stedu – part 2…

    1. eduglean Post author

      Thanks, Dave. Vulnerability & transparency were not my goals here – just open windows into the journey of improvement I see before me, long off in the horizon. Your link made me laugh…and smile sheepishly about the reality of this parallel. Exactly. …yup…that’s it… How often do I allow the ‘fire’ of today to dictate my schedule? Well, sometimes ‘fires’ can’t be helped. But, more pressingly, how many ‘fires’ of today were self-inflicted because I did not act soon enough when first encountered or brought to my attention? I’m hearing Covey in my head – Reactive VS Pro-Active… Planning is the key to Pro-Active.

      Reply
  1. thoughtsonallthings

    PK, that was such a great read. Your ability to chisel out the missing ingredient like that is very admirable and inspiring. It was neat reading the examples you gave because there were a couple I knew about and a couple I didn’t. I realized I still think of you as a teacher first before I remember that you’re the principal, and that I haven’t talked much about it with you. This makes me increasingly excited to read your future post!

    This is a great topic and one I wish I’d have read half a year ago. The important/urgent idea came up a lot when I was a store manager. I often had the mentality that if I knocked off more of the important but urgent tasks quicker than an important and not urgent task (like planning) that I’d come out okay. Not the case. I just got selective with my tasks and did the ones I liked well enough that hopefully nobody would notice the lack of I/U tasks being done. This step would not only have made my job easier, but also my life, like you mentioned.

    Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring self-reflection, PK!

    Reply
    1. eduglean Post author

      Hi Jordan. I can relate with doing the ‘fun’ or ‘easy’ tasks before all others. Quite frankly – I don’t really like the things I don’t like. I don’t mean to sound daft…I just mean, we’re all naturally drawn to the areas/topics/items we are good at or have keen interest in. You say you “did the ones I liked…” before doing the others. This is my case also. I don’t really like planning…it doesn’t come naturally…I don’t see/experience/feel the joy in doing it…and, I haven’t really seen it modelled to me in the past. And, because of my lack of planning, I have learned to thrive in the moment in the adrenaline-infused time-crunch of the here-and-now. Yes, many casualties are produced at home and work, and much other areas suffer from a lack of effectiveness. But, I am working on it! Chat soon!

      Reply
    1. eduglean Post author

      Are you listening to a book? I’m almost done my first time through Getting Things Done: the work-life management system by David Allen. I have had many moments where I realize I could be doing so much more in terms of organization & planning. Really, this book makes me feel like I’m a boy among men – I’m just in awe of what I’m hearing and at a loss where to begin. Certainly this will be a re-read as soon as I’m done. What are you currently reading?

      Reply
  2. Pippa Davies

    Okay Paul I got your number. We can hold each other accountable:) Thanks for your honesty and openness in sharing. We all have our flaws and mine are probably, following up on planning, lol! If it wasn’t for our amazing learning commons team it would not get done! Grace is big in our line of work:) God has gifted you in the speaking department, and even though you might not be aware of it your planning is inherent in your thought patterns..

    Reply
    1. eduglean Post author

      Hi Pippa. Thank-you for your faithful comments here. I appreciate them. Yes, grace is so necessary – I am so thankful for it. Planning is in the organization & details. I am learning. Yes – we can help keep each other on track! Great idea!

      Reply
  3. patrick hayden

    …and THAT’S one of the reasons why you are THE man for the job. Captain, my captain; you are a man of vision.

    Reply
    1. eduglean Post author

      Vision – so, Pat, please pray that I can move that vision from my heart & head into words & actions and that it becomes clear, understood, and contagious! Thank-you for partnering with Heritage to bring forth Discipleship-based Christian Education! You are a central part of our our school’s campus experience. Thanks for the role you play in the lives of our kids. They love you & respect you because of the life of integrity they see you living. Everything about you points to Jesus. That is amazing. Bless you.

      Reply
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