|25 May 2023|
|Written by Francesca Barry|
|Building Your Community|
This article delves into the insights gleaned from an informative and engaging session led by Katy Steventon, Director of the Rugbeian Community at Rugby School, during the IDPE 2023 Annual Conference. In her session, Katy shared how she utilised military strategic planning and clear communication tactics to transform her team into a force to be reckoned with, driving efficiency, enhancing team morale, and paving the way for success. Additionally, key takeaways shared below highlight how the principles of military strategy can be skillfully adapted to invigorate marketing initiatives and foster growth in school development teams.
In 1995, Katy joined the Army Cadet Force, where she learned the essence of leadership. By 2013, she had taken those skills to the British Army’s Recruit Partnership Project, where she served as a Marketing Manager for Army Officer and Specialist recruitment. Returning from maternity leave in 2017, Katy began a new role, Head of Regional Marketing and Events. The challenge, however, was that she was now managing a fresh team struggling to fulfil their mandate.
Katy’s boss briefed her with a straightforward command’ “Fix it and stop the noise”. As she observed the landscape, the problems became clear - she found a geographically spread team working independently and constantly fire-fighting without direction or strategy. There was no sense of unity - a critical ingredient for any successful team. Additionally, Katy had to contend with numerous senior stakeholders with little background in recruiting or marketing - making the noise even louder.
The solution lay in leveraging familiar language and planning techniques reminiscent of army operations. Katy realised that marketing planning closely mirrored the way the army plans and delivers its orders for battle. Incorporating the military’s ‘battle rhythm’ and language was essential in involving her team in the journey. Meanwhile, she also employed a mix of military and civilian methods to build her team.
Katy applied the ‘Combat Estimate’, a series of seven questions used by military commanders to plan their response, in marketing and preparation amongst her team. The combat estimate process forces commanders to critically think about the situation, the actions required, the resources needed, and the coordination measures to be imposed - providing a robust framework for planning, even under the most challenging circumstances. This strategic approach brought about significant changes.
With the consistent ‘battle rhythm’ in place, the noise stopped. A sense of security was restored within her team, and stakeholders were reassured. They managed to develop a national strategy that was refreshed annually, and had regional plans to support it. Katy’s campaign efficiency increased, and staff retention improved. This result allowed her to focus on developing her team, and build on individual members’ strengths.
The structure of a boarding school shares similarities with the military - in both cases, communication needs to be translated into a format easily absorbed and understood by the intended audience. Katy’s experience serves as a reminder to avoid demanding people to adapt to our communication style, but rather, translate it into a format that suits them.
Katy’s experience serves as a vivid reminder that, whether on the battlefield or in the school development sector, effective planning, strategic thinking, and clear communication are critical to success.
Check out this school's thriving alumnae business directory, as well as some top tips for getting started with your own. More...
Learn how to effectively manage and maintain relationships with an expanding alumni base through strategic planning and … More...
As businesses look for ways to retain relationships with former employees, find out why corporate alumni networks are be… More...
Send us a message & we'll get in touch to organise a call or software demo
Rodean successfully beats its fundraising target for its Ukrainian Bursary Appeal, raising almost £70,000 to support the school's Ukrainian students. More...
Key lessons and valuable insights from three different sessions at the 2023 IDPE Annual Conference. More...
A CASE ASIA-PACIFIC session round-up with St Aloysius' College More...