More on why strategic planning fails in higher education and how Affirm, Assure and Assess is different.

Recently, I read another opinion piece, “Why Strategic Planning Fails,” describing why strategic planning in higher education fails.

This time the author, Jerry Bishop, suggests on his blog The Higher Ed CIO, that most planning in higher education fails or is not optional because it:

  • Is based on history
  • Is lacking meaningful data or forward-looking insights
  • Is diluted by consensus or perhaps it is consensus by dilution
  • Is intentionally ambiguous and fuzzy
  • Is lacking an accountability mechanism
  • Is just bad
I agree with the author’s assertions about what one typically sees in higher education strategic planning and his conclusions.
However, I continue to believe Affirm, Assure and Assess bucks the trend in higher education strategic planning.
  • Our plan is not based on history, but uses history as a way to ground our vision.
  • Our plan is based on data and as one stakeholder described “our reality, as sober as it might be.”
  • Our plan responds to the future in a thoughtful way to minimize what we see as vulnerabilities that could, or will impact us if we don’t act.
  • While the plan was built through consensus, it is not diluted by it. In fact, our plan intentionally forced choices among the many things put into “the hopper.”
  • Our plan is clear and each strategic imperative outlines with specificity what it will take for us to be successful.
  • Our plan includes accountability measures and the emerging “dashboard of Institutional Effectiveness” will change the way we describe our success.
Our plan is different and has the potential to buck the trend and serve as a new successful model for effective strategic planning in higher education.
W. Kent Barnds
Vice President of Enrollment, Communication and Planning
***In a forthcoming post I will outline the areas we seek to assess in the Institutional Effectiveness”dashboard.”

1 Comment

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One Response to More on why strategic planning fails in higher education and how Affirm, Assure and Assess is different.

  1. Leslie DuPree

    Specificity seems key to the process. When goals and plans are too general, people become skeptical and rightly so. Vague is bad. Specific goals are hard to obsfucate.

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