Strategic Planning Kickoff Speech

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Good morning, and welcome back. I hope everyone had a restful holiday break. It is great to see the students back and lots of activity on campus!

Today is our official “kickoff” of our Strategic Planning process, and so I’d like to make a few comments related to Strategic Planning.

  • There are lots of books about strategic planning, and many people (including myself) tend to be put off by a lot of strategic planning jargon, complicated processes, and a long, involved plan that sits on a shelf. I am aiming for a bounded, productive and meaningful process that will result in a living, breathing plan that identifies a limited number of clear priorities.
  • Much of my recent thinking about planning has been influenced by Richard Morrill, who has served as president of several colleges and universities. His doctorate is in religion and ethics, so he brings a somewhat different perspective to the table, and his ideas are detailed in this 2007 book entitled “Strategic Leadership.”

The aspects of Morrill’s work that resonate most with me include:

  1. an emphasis on values and shared vision
  2. his definition of strategy: “Strategy is a process of sense making and direction-setting that designs and implements initiatives, goals and actions based on an analysis of organizational strengths and weaknesses, and the threats and opportunities of the wider context.” (p. 69)
  3. realization of the importance of data (I like to use the phrase “data informed” rather than “data driven”)
  4. a focus on assets, rather than negatives
  5. the law of parsimony—limiting the number of strategic initiatives
  6. the idea that a strategic plan must focus on genuine strategic issues—not operational details
  7. the plan must be ambitious but also attainable (a stretch, but not impossible!)

We are fortunate to have excellent planning resources at Indiana University, and Mary Ellen McCann, University Assistant Director of Organizational Development, will be assisting us in this process. Mary Ellen has just celebrated 20 years with IU and has worked with many people on our campus.

Many of you participated in a preliminary exercise related to strategic planning earlier this fall—the “Campus Portrait Survey.” And many of you have participated in (or will participate) in cross-campus groups that are meeting to look at the results of this survey in terms of 3 questions:

  1. Who are we? (identity)
  2. What do we stand for? What matters to us? (values)
  3. Where do we want to go? (vision)

The results of these discussions will be shared with a campus “Strategic Planning Team” that I have formed. This is an institution-wide body, with appointed members who reflect our different constituents.

The use of the word “Team” in the title of this group is intentional—the idea is to bring together individuals who will serve as true university citizens to think about IUE and the issues we face. The Strategic Planning Team will think about strategic issues and priorities within a broad internal and external context, and will communicate with the campus and other constituents.

I envision this as an ongoing group, but the most immediate charge is to lead the development of an IUE Strategic Plan that will mesh with the university strategic planning process announced by President McRobbie in his State of the University address last fall. (which means we have to be done by the end of this semester!)

The current membership of this group is as follows (updated Aug 2014):

  • Jay Barbre, Director of Graduate Programs, School of Education
  • Patty Crawford, Special Assistant to the Chancellor
  • Kathy Cruz-Uribe, Chancellor
  • Dan Dooley, Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance
  • David Frantz, Dean, School of Business and Economics
  • Star Johnson, Support Staff, Administration and Finance
  • Dianne Moneypenny, Lecturer, World Languages and Cultures
  • Larry Richards, Executive Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs
  • Alyssa Tegeler, Transfer Coordinator, Admissions (and IUE alumna)
  • Jason Troutwine, Vice Chancellor, External Affairs
  • Kelsey Wolf, IUE student
  • Community Member (to be named)

I’d like to thank these members for agreeing to serve. As this will be an ongoing group, people will serve limited terms of 1-2 years, and so there will be opportunities for others to serve in the future. I am excited about engaging in a fresh and dynamic process, and look forward to developing a plan that we captures the very best thinking of our community and translates our vision and values into actions. We have a wonderful story to tell and many more chapters to write.