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Strategic Planning

29 Jul Posted by in Academics, Business | Comments Off on Strategic Planning

Several years ago Mason developed a strategic plan for 2014. It emerged from wide campus discussions and offers a solid basis for moving forward. In contrast to past plans, this one was followed by the establishment of a Strategic Implementation Committee, designed to assist in the translation, adaptation, and monitoring of the basic plan, again with membership from various academic and nonacademic units.

Recently a few of us discussed this move at the annual conference of the Society for College and University Planning. We gained a surprisingly encouraging reception, which I mention not so much to brag as to suggest that this kind of follow-up mechanism does offer some new-ish elements that may be of wide interest.

We’re just about to present results of the monitoring aspect of our endeavors to our Board of Visitors, which is not an insignificant step. We’ve taken some time (perhaps too much) to establish measurement criteria for the major goals categories in the basic plan. Now we can use these for regular annual monitoring.

We’ve also had considerable success in getting all the academic units to develop their own plans, and increasingly, metrics to match, that capture unit goals but in clear relationship to the larger plan. This will also permit annual measurement and discussion. We’ve had less consistent success with a comparable effort with non-academic units, so this is a remaining challenge.

We’ve now defined as well a next task: turning to the multitude of multi-unit university committees, to ask them to establish their relationship to strategic planning. This should generate some really interesting coordination and updating, and probably no small number of indications of overlap and confusion. But the effort, not to micromanage subordinate planning endeavors, but to provide some coordination and mutual information, is potentially quite important. Among other things, this – along with the regular measurements and unit alignments – will ultimately help set the stage for the next full strategic planning movement itself.

I confess I was a bit worried, initially, about the cumbersomeness and potential bureaucratization implied in a term like “Strategic Implementation Committee;” and there is a real time commitment involved. But I’m increasingly persuaded of some really positive payoff.