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Achieve culture change to implement your strategic plan.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- When officials at the University of Central Florida set out to create and implement their strategic plan, they wanted to leverage a quality that makes UCF distinctive: it's size. With 64,000 students, the institution offers that opportunity to "use the power of scale," as the impact statement for the plan states. But at such a large institution, making sure faculty and staff members across campus understand the plan and their part in it can be a challenge.

Lisa Guion Jones, associate provost for strategy and special assistant to the president, explained the steps officials took to ensure the strategic plan was implemented across the institution at a session at the Society for College and University Planning annual conference. Jones was hired after the plan was approved to oversee its implementation.

Each college at the university has its own set of cultural norms and deeply held beliefs, Jones said. They don't have to give those up, but collective impact needs to be the norm.

"Culture eats strategy for lunch," Jones said. Making sure the right culture is in place is essential to a strategic plan's success, she added.

Jones developed an Institutionalization Guidebook early in the implementation process. That was important for clear communication about where the institution was headed. It provided a conceptual framework and a timeline. Jones led the process of creating the guidebook, but it was vetted across campus. Faculty members, the Strategic Planning Council, deans, and student groups weighed in, and she made tweaks based on their input.

The plan was rolled out to campus leadership in a retreat and to the campus in an information session. Everyone who came received a guidebook, and it was also posted online.

The five guiding principles of institutionalization are:

* Alignment. "We wanted everyone moving in the same direction," Jones said. The plan should be part of daily life. At UCF, alignment efforts were made in the budget model, the divisional strategic plans, Challenge 2020 (which outlines performance targets the institution seeks to reach by 2020), departmental-level planning, information technology project management, and the information technology and facilities project request and matching grant program. Under the project request and matching grant process, projects must score a certain number of points to be funded, and requests must align with the strategic plan. Jones sits on the Budget and Facilities Committee that reviews the requests. To support the institution's strategic plan, colleges and departments set targets that aligned with it.

* Shared ownership and connectivity. "Everyone has a role in the strategic plan," Jones said. It should guide decisions and mold projects members of the community take on. Efforts included:

** Provost's retreats. The half-day retreats were held to solicit input on how to advance efforts to meet strategic plan metrics.

** Provost forums. These updated the university community on progress toward strategic plan metrics and highlighted specific initiatives that can be scaled for greater impact.

** Provost's college visits. The provost conducted half-day visits to each college, connecting with faculty, staff, and students, and discussing the value of each college's contribution to achieving the metrics.

** Institutionalization team and team retreats. These included 25 senior- and mid-level leaders serving as change leaders. They participated in two retreats. Deans and vice presidents discussed challenges at the college level. After the discussions, some vice presidents commented they did not have as clear an understanding of how decisions would affect colleges as they thought they did. That team is together for five years.

* Collective thinking. "We have lots of smart people on campus who often don't talk to each other," Jones said. A cross-functional interdisciplinary team developed tactics for every metric in the plan. UCF engaged administrators, faculty, staff, students, and key partners and stakeholders during action planning. Collective thinking enables education about the plan and develops buy-in. Student engagement in the process included a fall 2016 survey that almost 900 students completed. Officials meet with student government leadership every semester. And a monthly collective impact student roundtable brings together concerns from the student development and enrollment services units. Faculty and staff engagement is also critical to success. Five thematic teams were formed to focus on the topics student access, success, and prominence; strengthening our faculty and staff; growing our research and graduate programs; creating community impact through partnerships; and leading innovations in higher education. The teams included 104 faculty and staff members. They developed the action plans that will be used throughout the implementation. Team members didn't have any training on strategic planning before being chosen. They started with a half-day retreat. They were given a template and told they could choose five actions for each metric, and they were given a way to prioritize the actions. Plus, more than 24 more faculty and staff members served as consultants. They didn't have to meet with the thematic teams, but they reviewed the plan based on their expertise. "With a large campus, we want to seek out ways to involve as many people as possible," Jones said. The team members can apply to be faculty fellows who will continue to support the implementation and who will be chosen from each college. In addition to engaging faculty and staff members in the teams, officials gave presentations to and held meetings with a number of groups around campus. They also created two new awards. One was to award innovative ideas and one was for implementation. "We don't know where the next great idea is going to come from," Jones said. There will be a winner each semester for the next three years, and more winners if funding is available, she added. The winner receives money and presents a seminar for the campus community on driving innovation.

* Collective action. "It's not enough to have plans," Jones said. Community members need to work together from the beginning to achieve them. An implementation/execution plan helps ensure the plan is "not tossed on the shelf and forgotten," Jones said. UCF's includes an action plan for each metric.

* Accountability, transparency, and recognition. "We're on steroids with that," Jones said. There are key individuals responsible for each goal in the plan. Those people will meet and present a report on how the implementation is going. Others at the meeting can say how they can help and they will ask questions along the lines of "Have you thought about... ? "Qualitative and quantitative assessment measures have been determined. If goals are not on track, team members will try to diagnose what is happening and help. The Institutionalization Team will hold an annual retreat to discuss progress, strategies for improvement, and enhanced ways of collaborating. The institution is launching a new website where progress will be tracked. Both internal and external constituents will be able to see where the institution stands for each metric. Jones also goes to cabinet meetings, the Provost's Council, and the Deans' Council to facilitate ongoing communication about and buy-in for the plan. The board of trustees has two members on the Executive Council, and it has a Strategic Planning Committee. This ensures a high-level focus on planning and ongoing engagement from the board.

Joan Hope, Ph.D.
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Title Annotation:Strategic Planning
Author:Hope, Joan
Publication:Planning for Higher Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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