As noted in my All-College Update on April 9th, this is my list of reasons for prioritizing strategic planning:
- The plan sets the direction for the college and establishes priorities. It defines how we view success and prioritizes strategies/actions to get us there.
- It gets us all on the same page, rowing in the same direction to achieve the goals of the college.
- It helps focus decision making. There are lots of good ideas for new programs or initiatives. The plan will help us determine which ideas fits best, which do not and which we may want to pursue in the future.
- It helps us better align our resources to our goals.
- It helps us communicate our strategic direction. Let us and our partners know where we are going and how we will get there. It gives our stakeholders a clear sense of how they can support our success.
Since a January 4, 2018 retreat, the College has been on the path of developing a Strategic Plan with what I would characterize as gusto and speed. In higher education, we are not famous for moving quickly and strategic planning is a process to be done methodically and thoughtfully. So in spite of higher education’s reputation and given that we’re being methodical, I’m happy to report several milestones have been reached already.
Defining the Scope
The outline for the Strategic Plan has been laid out as 18 separate sub-plans. From academics to marketing and external relations, to facilities and finance plans, the components of the Strategic Plan have areas of foci, champions leading the process, and deadlines. My job will be to oversee the work of all of the sub-committees and unite them into a single document. That deliverable is due just before the start of the fall semester so we can share the plan with our community after everyone is back or has arrived for their first term.
Every Strategic Plan is framed by the vision an institution has for itself after the duration of the plan. A mission statement defines what you do today, but a vision statement articulates your aspirations for the future. We have drafted a five-year vision statement and it’s being shared around various stakeholder groups to make sure we have input and buy-in on this crucial element of the plan. For us to row our boat in the same direction, it’s going to be important that we’re all looking at the same horizon. The statements of the Vision are the pillars on which we build the Strategic Plan.
Early Committee Work
With leads of each sub-plan identified and empowered to form committees, many groups have already begun to hold their planning meetings. Two sub-plan deadlines have already come and the work of those individuals or groups has been completed. I strongly believe that a collaborative process leads to better results, so encourage everyone to find a way to participate. Whether it’s as a committee member or by communicating with a sub-plan lead your thoughts about their plan, everyone’s input is welcomed and valued. Again, for the organization to reach its goals, it is going to take all of us going in a similar direction. I want to make sure everyone has a chance to get on this path, moving the College forward.
Organization and Logistics
We have started using the Portal to save our documents and reference materials. There’s a basic structure in place that we’re hoping will make it easy for the community to find, reference and contribute to the work. We’re also using Tech Talk for articles like this one to provide longer updates both for the record and as a supplement to the short amount of time we get together in meetings like Staff Council or Faculty Assembly. There’s so much to say! And often not enough time in meetings. My hope is that articles like these don’t clog up inboxes and let you all access more information asynchronously, to borrow an academic term.
Another early accomplishment was agreement about what metrics we would use for an institutional dashboard – those facts and figures we’ll watch in the near term about the College’s performance, much like the dashboard of a car gives immediate feedback about tire pressure or oil life. The eight starting dashboard metrics are enrollment, net revenue, retention rate, net cost per degree, placement rate, staff and faculty numbers, deposits, and employee and student satisfaction. There’s a group identified who manages the various data points that will be meeting to build a dashboard that’s easily referenced by our whole community. In addition to short term inputs, we have also winnowed a much longer wish list of data points to measure whether or not we’re making progress toward our vision each year. We have to validate the list of nine metrics to know that we will be able to report out on them annually as we review and update our plan. From the vision statement and metrics, our next task is to establish annual objectives to reach of each pillar and their corresponding metric.
The Strategic Planning Committee will continue its bi-weekly meeting schedule, every other Tuesday afternoon. The work of the various sub-committees will continue or begin, depending on where they are in the timeline. There are a couple critical items to complete before the end of the semester, so we will have to remain focused even while so many other competing priorities of senior projects, recruitment, graduation ceremonies, and budgeting dominate our workloads.
Thank you to everyone for their incredible work so far! Looking forward to more progress and sharing more news in the coming weeks.