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strategy

Strategic Initiatives works in person, onsite in a highly collaborative manner. The four distinct but highly interdependent stages of our Design-Thinking-Based Planning Process incorporate sound, proven planning tools and extraordinary experiences. Each phase has a specific set of outcomes and goals and these outputs serve as important inputs to the next stage of the process. During the design stage we work to ensure that that the entire process will meet your expectations and take the appropriate amount of time, resources, and engagement. The paired processes of divergence and convergence are all about exploring opportunities and creating choices then distilling the possibilities to craft the best strategies for the future. These stages utilize broad-based collaborative processes engaging all segments of the University community and will build upon previous planning efforts to further develop strategies to advance the vision, mission and core values of the institution across all areas of the university. During the final alignment stage, the strategic documents are produced and carefully aligned with the resources and capacities available to successfully execute. 

Strategy is not a grand vision, launched at the beginning of a five-year planning period and implemented in lockstep throughout the term of the strategic plan. Instead, strategy is focused, consistent behavior, practiced over time, and refined by emergent developments that are incorporated into the initial, intentional strategy. Plans are linked with the capacity to execute, ensuring the alignment of plans and goals with an institution’s capacities and resources and with its ability to execute. The articulation of strategies will be followed by a clear description of “next steps” and how to develop the organizational capacity necessary to achieve the strategies defined in the plan. Most higher education strategic plans are justifiably criticized for merely extrapolating existing visions, values, programs, practices, value propositions, and cultures into the future. This is not the approach we employ. As designed and executed, our strategic planning process will be a significant organizational learning experience. Through this process existing practices and capabilities will be challenged. 

Achieving alignment is a key phase of the strategy creation process. Two kinds of alignment will be achieved as portrayed in the adjacent figure. The resulting strategic planning document will include strategic goals, implementation plans with timelines, and measurable performance indicators. Vertical alignment will assure that college-level mission, values, strategies, goals, and actions are reflected in department and program-level strategies, goals, actions, metrics, and responsibilities. Feedback loops will assure that both college and program-level strategies and plans are adapted over time. Horizontal alignment will assure alignment between college strategies, budget planning and resource allocation, academic planning, accreditation and program review, and institutional effectiveness.