Envisio helps District 49 execute its strategic plan with excellence
Spanning 133 square miles of urban and rural areas in Colorado, District 49 is the fastest growing school district in El Paso County. It employs 2,000 staff serving more than 25,000 students within its portfolio of 29 schools. For Peter Hilts, Chief Education Officer for District 49, educational excellence is personal, “I’m a parent, and with my wife, we’ve raised six kids. So, the thing that motivates me is that there are 50,000 or more parents counting on me to do my job well, so teachers can do their jobs well.”
District 49 operates in a community that has open educational choice, meaning students can choose any district and any school with available space. “That means we must compete on quality and performance, and we know that the only way to do that well is to plan effectively and then implement those plans,” explained Peter. “We envision a future when every time a student, parent, or educator chooses a school district, we are the best choice they can make.”
The District’s vision-driven strategic plan provides unified goals and strategies to prepare students to achieve like never before, all based on the Board’s five big founding rocks: establish enduring trust, engage our community, have robust portfolio of schools, build a firm founding and launch every student to success. The leadership team relies on Envisio to manage, track and report on their plans.
“We want to be an excellent organization. We want to serve as a role model in our region and our nation,” shared Peter.
“So, we’re using Envisio to help us track whether we’re performing to a standard of national excellence.”
A new platform was needed to improve performance
After two years of working with a basic planning tool, District 49 went through a request for proposal in 2019 to evaluate a variety of platforms for performance that could match the organizations growing sophistication. The team compared features sets and support, but ultimately sought to answer the question: will the tool make performance accessible to the entire workforce and to the leadership team?
“We’re stepping into our fifth year of formally and systematically pursuing performance excellence, and we became convinced that Envisio would help us move to another level compared to what we had been doing previously,” said Peter.
“It’s a platform for individual excellence, accessible to every member of our workforce. Both the interface and reliability of Envisio were appealing to us. And it would allow us to track analytics and make performance metrics available to the community at scale.”
Envisio fosters workforce engagement and accountability
The District 49 strategic plan and a variety of other District Zone plans are now centrally accessible to all staff in a variety or formats, using the cascading framework, Gantt charts and list tools. “The feature that we’re most excited about with Envisio is the ability to view our strategic plan and our action plans and projects in a logical, hierarchical format,” noted Peter.
“That ability to align and cascade our action plans all the way down to measurable school level or even classroom level achievement and then to aggregate those achievements back up to a high priority strategic objective, that’s really the feature that Envisio brought home for us. We can ensure that every member of our workforce knows how they’re contributing to the organization’s excellence.”
Envisio is helping build traction for the strategic plan by aligning the actions of staff and educators with strategic priorities, while fostering accountability and recognition. Each project and action item is assigned a due date, task description and owner.
Personal dashboards in Envisio empower each team member to stay on track. “My projects” and “my action plans” are paired with progress colour-coded status bars, while accelerometers offer a quick look at overall progress towards the plan. Email reminders, lists of pending updates and activity streams ensure the most pressing work gets attention, while regular updates by staff keep the leadership team informed.
“I see Envisio very much as a focusing tool as I work with my team. If you’ve got great people, your primary job is not to get in their way,” explained Peter. “I can stay on top of performance in a way that is really unobtrusive, and I don’t have to necessarily interact directly with an individual to get a sense of what’s going on. I can stay abreast of the action plans in the communications department or the action plans in a particular school. If we’re missing the mark on a key performance measure, I can focus more time on having the right conversations.”
Analytics, metrics and reporting provide clarity on plan progress
“We’re convinced that the national Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award is the gold standard for organizational excellence,” noted Peter. “The ability to set targets and then to track our performance to those targets is an important aspect of Envisio, a feature we know will push our performance toward the highest standard.”
Envisio is designed to centralize, analyze and visualize performance data, enabling the District 49 leadership team to align performance measures with strategic priorities and report on plan progress. Reports can be automated, scheduled and delivered or created ad hoc. Envisio reports and analytics help communicate progress with stakeholders, creating transparency.
“Our purpose for using Envisio is to make sure we do a great job on the planning phase, to ensure that we’re monitoring and tracking our implementation,” said Peter, “and then use the tool to report out to our community, to their elective representatives, to our board of education. We want to be able to draw a thread from the plan through implementation with reporting.”
Public dashboards in every school will build community trust
“Establishing enduring trust” within the community is the bedrock strategic priority for District 49. Building and nurturing trust starts by sharing common goals, communicating strategic priorities and offering transparency on progress. Envisio allows District 49 to publish beautiful, interactive strategic dashboards that can include both progress updates and performance measures.
“One of the things that we’re really excited about with Envisio is the ability to develop public dashboards,” said Peter. “By giving us a platform that allows us to collaborate on shared goals and to develop action plans, and then to report on those transparently, we think that will certainly maintain and enhance trust with our community.”
District 49 is undertaking a highly unique and innovative approach to communicating progress on its strategic plan with all stakeholders. In addition to showcasing the Envisio public dashboard on its website, the leadership team is planning to share progress using a system of LCD display screens.
“One of the things that we’re targeting with Envisio is to show how we’re moving on our strategic action plans, when we’re hitting milestones, when we’re missing the mark, and we will do that on these public screens,” explained Peter.
“Our public dashboard will be displayed in every school, in every lobby in the district, as well as in all of our major departments and offices so that our workforce, our students, our parents, our guests will all be able to see within a fairly rapid rotation whether we’re on track, hitting our milestones towards our action plans and projects.”
Achieving new levels of educational excellence with Envisio
“I think the most critical thing was we wanted to feel like we were working with a partner who understood that continuous improvement is the only way to get to excellent performance,” reflected Peter. We get it. For District 49, continuous improvement is a must because the stakes are high.
“If we execute our plan perfectly, the deep impact is that we are going to launch cohorts of students out in the world to serve, to lead business, to serve in the military, to go to college, to lead families and be in ministry, that’s the real impact of our work on our strategic plan,” concluded Peter. “So the future for district 49 is to expand, to continue maintaining high performance, and even to increase the quality of our performance while growing our community. And we think Envisio gives us a powerful way to make sure that we are pulling on the same rope in the same direction.”
District 49 has joined the high-performing school districts, colleges, and universities across North America that use Envisio to help them execute strategy and improve performance. With its noble vision, ambition strategic plans, unwavering commitment to excellence and innovative approach to execution, we believe the District 49 team will raise the national standards, win awards, and become evangelists who continue to inspire us all by launching students into success.
We would like to congratulate Peter and the entire team at District 49 for your outstanding strategic achievements and look forward to working together to continuously redefine excellence towards better student outcomes.