The information, contacts, power, and influence the schools can gain through a growing network of external relationships enables them to develop allies who are more likely to act in ways that are consistent with the school’s needs and interests and who can help the school continue to expand their network."
(Hatch, 2009, p. 130)

Managing the external environment

Whether schools try to work outside the mainstream public school system, as charter schools or schools of choice or within the constraints and opportunity of traditional districts, schools need to develop the capacity to manage the external environment. To do that, schools have to:

Manage relationships with external authorities. Managing relationships with districts, states, reform organizations, funders and others means figuring out how to take advantage of the benefits of external relationships without getting overwhelmed or undermined by the conflicting demands and pressures that come with them.

Distribute leadership. When school members have a common understanding, they can help to develop relationships with individuals and organizations outside the school, they can explain the school’s mission and goals, recruit qualified staff, find resources, and otherwise advance the school’s interests.

Take advantage of “boundary spanners.” Boundary spanners like administrators, coaches, teachers and other staff who participate in activities both inside and outside the school help develop the relationships that make it possible to manage the environment. They give the school the capacity to “scan the environment” – to see and hear about issues, concerns, and new developments and to stay abreast of how the environment around them may be changing and to – “seed the environment” – to put individuals knowledgeable about the school into positions of power and influence.

Develop connections and common interests with community members. Developing relationships between staff members and parents and other community members makes it possible to discover common interests and develop the wider understanding and trust needed to work constructively toward common ends.