The Innovation Approach to Strategic Planning

When I heard about a district strategic planning process that’s been described as life-giving, lean, human-design centered, innovative and empowering, I simply had to learn more. The design process we’ll talk about today is described in all those ways, and also begs questions such as:
  • What if superintendents could help create a culture that celebrates innovation and embraces change?
  • What if there were a way to authentically engage frontline staff and students in solving problems (instead of just talking about them)?
  • What if solutions could be lean yet impactful?

Please join me in the conversation with fellow Minnesotan, Eric Schneider.


In this week’s episode, Mary Ryerse sits down with Eric Schneider (@TonkaEric), Assistant Superintendent of Minnetonka Public Schools, which serves over 10,000 students and is located in the greater Minneapolis area. Eric and his team have taken a unique approach to gathering input for strategic planning that drives innovation, including the use of a platform to crowdsource ideas. This process has been used by districts in several states now under the umbrella of the nonprofit, InnovateK12.

If you’d like to learn more about the district’s approach to innovation success, join Mary and Eric as they discuss how Eric and his team helped build Minnetonka’s strong culture of innovation, how other districts are starting to use some of the strategies they’ve developed, what Eric is doing with InnovateK12, and how he’s making a difference in Minnetonka and beyond.

Key Takeaways:

[1:03] Eric talks about his background in education and his role currently in Minnetonka.
[3:48] The district’s process of planning activities that engage the whole district in innovation challenges and strategic planning.
[9:00] How this process has evolved and what it looks like today.
[12:55] How this model has migrated to other districts and environments, the difference between traditional strategic planning and innovation strategic planning, and whether or not most districts tend to replace their current strategic planning process or not.
[16:23] How their model also doubles as a talent development strategy and helps breed teachers into leaders.
[20:29] Indicators and metrics Eric uses to determine success.
[24:00] An idea that came out of this process that is directly impacting learning in a classroom today.
[29:52] Where to learn more about the model.

Mentioned in This Episode

Minnetonka Public Schools
St. Cloud State University
United Health Group’s Optum

For more see:

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The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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