Operational Delivery v Strategic Oversight

Published March 16, 2018 by monika

Measuring impact, making decisions, building strategy and revisiting things later. The lifeblood of so many organisations.

When you’re responsible for an organisation or school, but not involved operationally, not delivering on the ground, not there weekly, let alone daily, then that starts to look a little bit different.

Most trustees have quarterly meetings. In schools, governors have a full governing body every half term, and then varying committees to make more detailed decisions. Many trustees and governors don’t see the day to day running of the organisation because that isn’t what they are there for.

The strategic oversight of an organisation is very different to the day to day running of it. It’s tempting to keep asking for more evidence, more information, more data. This won’t necessarily help you to scrutinise effectively. Your data needs context. Your information needs analysis. Your evidence needs triangulation. It is also vital to ensure that the data you ask for doe not stop your staff from doing their jobs. The delivery staff, from your head or CEO right down to junior staff will be working with operational level information and evidence, to help them break down the day to say and have an impact. Trustees should be looking at management level information. This should allow you to have the crucial information without being drowned in it. It should also be accessible enough for you to ask questions that dig a little deeper.

Understanding what difference you make as a team is a lot harder when you’re not the people delivering the difference. If you are a school governing body for example, you have to assess your own impact, as well as looking at the impact your decisions have on the school, and on the children and staff. The impact of a decision may be positive for the school, but have a negative impact on the children themselves. This becomes a difficult thing to understand, and then weigh your decisions against. For example, if your data shows that your children are not doing well enough in reading and in maths, you may decide to focus on interventions. This could have a positive impact on the school as its data will look better. For the children, these interventions could mean they miss out on the enriched curriculum they are entitled to. A marking policy may make you feel you are collecting the evidence you need, but have a negative impact on the well-being of your staff due to extra workload. Assessing the impact of strategic decisions isn’t always one-sided.

I have created a specific set of training sessions, which focus on the different perspective and responsibilities of trustees and governors to that of delivery staff.

Take a look at www.trustee-training.com and please feel free to get in touch, share your experiences or ask any questions.