Creating Coherence Through Implementation of a Strategic Plan: A Case Study

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Using case study methodology, this study examined the experiences of 6 senior educational leaders to understand (a) how do school jurisdictions’ senior administrative decision-makers define coherence, and (b) how are those leaders involved, directly and indirectly, in contributing to the development of coherency during the implementation of the district’s strategic plan? Data were gathered through semistructured interviews, artifacts, and reflexive memoing. Three key findings emerged: coherence was defined as a clear strategic priority supported by a shared understanding and a common leadership approach to facilitate its development in the organizational structure, coherence is created through the enactment of the strategic plan, and there was little consistency in the implementation and enactment of the strategic plan. A disconnect was evident between policy implementation and policy enactment in matters of strategic planning. The leaders’ day-to-day decision-making and actions required to create coherence were strained under the organizational structure within which they worked; the binary relationship between formulation and implementation, or thinking and action; the challenging transition from the analytical process of planning, deduction, or reductionism to synthesis; and the challenge of moving from a linear process of planning to an iterative process which supports the emergence of strategic priorities and the development of coherence. Results suggest that the complexity of creating coherence makes it important for organizations to clearly define the outcome and that the common practice of strategic planning needs to be reconsidered if coherence is an intended outcome.
Stensland, T. (2019). Creating Coherence Through Implementation of a Strategic Plan: A Case Study (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from