Leading School Strategy and Innovation

Leading School Strategy & Innovation

School leaders are responsible for setting the vision and goals and aligning strategy and resources to drive improvement in their schools, while navigating an increasingly challenging school environment.

Offered as a course within the Certificate in School Management and Leadership (CSML), Leading School Strategy and Innovation is designed to equip school leaders with the skills they need to identify existing challenges, incorporate and support innovation, and take a strategic problem-solving approach to planning and driving school improvement.

Leading School Strategy and Innovation participants will: 

  • Define school goals, identify gaps between current and desired performance, and diagnose root causes of those gaps.
  • Learn how to refine the school vision and goals to engage teachers and staff and guide the implementation of changes to improve performance.
  • Explore the organizational building blocks of schools and understand how they work together as an inter-related system.
  • Drive improvement by generating greater alignment between the school’s strategy, its organizational building blocks, and its resources.
  • Distinguish between continuous improvement and innovation, identify when innovation is needed and how to create a safe space for innovation to take place.
  • Develop, implement, and sustain a strategic school transformation process 

Course Syllabus & Calendar

View modules and deadlines for upcoming editions of this course. The syllabus and calendars are downloadable. 


Mary Grassa O'Neill

Mary Grassa O'Neill, CSML Faculty Co-Chair, Senior Lecturer on Education; Faculty Director, School Leadership, HGSE

Monique Bruns Thompson

Monique Burns Thompson, CSML Faculty Co-Chair, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, HBS

Allen Grossman

Allen Grossman, CSML Faculty Co-Chair (Emeritus), Senior Fellow, HBS


Pamela Mason, Senior Lecturer on Education, Faculty Director, Language and Literacy, HGSE


Mike Tushman, Baker Foundation Professor, Paul R. Lawrence MBA Class of 1942 Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, Charles B. (Tex) Thornton Chair of the Advanced Management Program, HBS

The course also features engaging case studies of the following practitioners:

  • Aisha Thomas, Principal, Zach Elementary School, Fort Collins, CO 
  • Brendan Kennealey, President, Salesianum School, Wilmington, DE
  • Melissa Pizano-Grunnet, Principal, Martin Van Buren Elementary School, Indio, CA 
  • Janet Moss, Principal, Coulwood STEM Academy, Charlotte, NC 
  • Tomer Zvulun, CEO, The Atlanta Opera, Atlanta, GA

Course Details

World-class Harvard faculty research adapted to the PreK-12 school context
Online icon 100% online and interactive
participants icon Features case studies of leaders from a diverse cross-section of schools and businesses from across the country
Global Networking Icon Global peer network of school leaders
Solutions icon Develop a toolkit and solutions that are tailored to improving your school
A PDF brochure overview of Leading School Strategy & Innovation, a Certificate in School Management and Leadership course.

Learn more about our transformative learning experience for PreK-12 school leaders.