“I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower
This transformative mission statement set the stage for the second phase of our strategic plan (I discussed the first phase of the plan in my previous blog post – click HERE). And, as indicative of this quote from President Eisenhower, the act of planning is more useful than the plan that emerges from the process because if the incorrect methods are employed, the plan will be ineffective.
At the beginning of the fall semester, I met with the Dean’s Internal Advisory Committee (an ad-hoc committee whose purpose is to advise me on college-related initiatives) regarding our next steps. We decided to build on these innovative and informative approaches and to structure a second retreat to provide an opportunity for all CHHS faculty and staff to be involved and encouraged to verbalize their ideas. During the holiday break, I took some time to reflect on themes that should guide our strategic plan. In my time here, I noticed several ways in which CHHS has the opportunity for growth and collaboration. In large part, these themes were derived from my conversations with members of the CHHS community and Dean’s Internal Advisory Committee over the last several months.
These themes include:
- Interprofessional Education, including pedagogy and research
- Applied Research Teams across the following themes: 1) health (e.g., environmental, occupational, personal) and wellness (e.g., student and employee); 2) rural health; and 3) Health and Human Service Outcomes
- Service Learning
- International Education, research and service learning
- Teaching Effectiveness
- Tenure and Promotion
- Student Retention and Recruitment
- Staff Development
- Media and Marketing
The second phase of the strategic planning process was a one-day retreat held on January 14th. Once again, Dr. Dan Pesut served as our facilitator. The themes above served as a guide but were not mutually exclusive. CHHS faculty and staff, along with a few CHHS stakeholders and CHHS students attended the all-day workday.At the beginning of the day, all were asked if there was any topic in which they would like to be a convener. I expressed that all CHHS employees played a role in creating the future, not fixing the past. If there were any topics in which any were passionate, they were able to bring those ideas to the table and could volunteer to lead a discussion on those ideas during the smaller group sessions. I asked each of the attendees to think of the following five questions prior to the retreat:
- What are some topics/issues that support the greater good of the college?
- How will your department contribute to the realization of that greater good?
- What should be the future goals of CHHS?
- What is your contribution as an individual?
- Who else in the college do you want to work with and how will you cross boundaries to support the greater good of the college?
This time the major method Dan employed was Open Space Technology (OST). OST enables self-organizing groups of all sizes deal with incredibly complex issues in a very short period of time. OST is an effective, economical, fast and easily-repeatable strategy for organizing meetings of between 5 and 1,000 participants and is characterized by the following mechanisms:
- Enables a group to design its own agenda around passionate issues and responsible action plans.
- Acknowledges work, wisdom, and expertise of all involved.
- Enables you to move from one session to another at will.
- Supports action planning during, and beyond the meeting.
- Enables connection with others in the group.
- Gives opportunity for meaningful conversations.
- Provides a summary of each session for beyond the meeting.
The retreat was a success. One employee had the following positive sentiments:
“I have never felt so much energy from the faculty and staff! The open format also allowed me to meet and network with people who share my interests and get a feel for future areas of collaboration and research. This was particularly valuable to me as a junior member of the faculty. I just wanted to say “thanks!” – Janice Carter Smith, Communication Sciences and Disorders
High quality is present in CHHS. Students and faculty are often acknowledged for their successes, but the staff in CHHS forms the organization’s backbone and allows students and faculty to pursue knowledge. I was so pleased to see staff integrated into the agenda and I truly appreciate the remarkable job the staff members do for CHHS.
So many notes and ideas were put forward. I am currently working with the Dean’s Internal Advisory Committee and will form a coordinating council that will distill the voluminous data that was collected from this great day. As we collectively develop our academic plan that aims to advance practice, instruction, research, and service of health and human services in CHHS, it is imperative that our vision aligns with the larger institutional vision. It is my intent to support departments in the development of strategic plans that build on our strengths and align with the University’s vision and mission and provides direction for what CHHS can do over the next 2-3 years to position ourselves to be leaders in the field through our unique strengths, team based interests, individual, collaborative, and collective efforts.