Creating a Theory of Action

Driver: Leadership | Success Indicator 3

The Theory of Action organizes the district's vision into a high-level plan that is testable and periodically revisited. While it's important for district leadership to be aligned and in agreement on this plan, it's critical to remember that the end goal is to improve the learning experience of the district's students.

Recently, Digital Convergence Leadership Teams at several National Network member districts used Affinity Mapping to create vision statements describing what a modern learning environment will look like in their districts.

Baldwin-Whitehall School District, PA

Bellwood-Antis School District, PA

Gaston County School District, NC


Newton-Conover City Schools, NC

Orange County School District, NC

Pickerington Local School District, OH


Phase 1: Ideation

Individuals record ideas of what a modern learning environment will look like, answering the following questions:

  • What do you want to see in your classrooms in 5 years? What are the students doing? What are the teachers doing?

  • What should a graduate of your district know and be able to do?

  • What qualities do graduates need to be able to succeed today and in the future?

This step allows for the ideas of various leaders to be reflected in the vision that will shape modern learning across the entire district, establishing a culture of thought partnership from the beginning of the district’s Digital Convergence journey.


Phase 2: Analysis

Afterwards, the team comes together to group common ideas. Creating one overarching theme for each group, district leaders draw from all ideas and discern themes what is important to the district’s culture and community.

This step takes the ideas of individuals and not only includes them but expands them to include the ideas of others, synergistically creating something which the team shares— a collective voice.

Phase 3: Synthesis

Leaders use the overarching themes to create vision statements. During their next strategy day on Digital Convergence, these vision statements create the foundation for the district’s Theory of Action.

While building a Theory of Action is initially beneficial in igniting creative collaboration, the completion of this Success Indicator will set the stage to truly transform instruction and the student experience at scale, as these once ideas develop into action items that will go on to inform strategic decisions for the future of learning across the district.

You can view the Theories of Action of Network districts from across the country in the Resource Library after logging in to