November 13, 1997
TO: Initiative Committees
FROM: Charles R. Strain
SUBJECT: General Directions for Initiative Committees
First and most importantly I want to thank you for participating in the Centennial Phase of the University=s strategic planning. Precisely because our centennial is approaching the work that you do will be very important in reshaping the direction of the University and in building upon its past.
- Charge. The charge for your committee is presented as a series of bulleted items in the Goal Matrix for your initiative. You should certainly modify and develop your charge as you work through the critical issues before you.
- Timetable. Each initiative will have its own timetable which is correlated to the nature of its task and the degree to which we are ready to move ahead in developing action plans. Some groups will have an extended prepatory phase if they need to do extensive research on an area that is relatively new to the University.
Each group should plan to provide periodically recommendations for action. Please do not wait to present a complete set of recommendations if you have come to a consensus on some action-recommendations that have high priority. Also we ask you not to plan in a vacuum. When you come to some degree of consensus about key directions, you should request a preliminary review of these directions by the Executive team and by key stakeholders. By involving initiative committees in dialogue with key University constituencies, including the Faculty and Staff Councils, we hope to create a process in which the University moves forward together.
Finally keep in mind the various events of the Centennial celebration. We not only want to plan for the future but we want to be able to present to external communities the exciting new directions that we are taking.
- Support. I will be in close consultation with the coordinators of each initiative. If there are ways in which various units of the University can assist you in planning, please let me know and we will try to provide the needed support for your work.
- Action Plans. While some initiative groups will have a prepatory phase in which they explore options without jumping into actual planning, all groups need to develop a set of recommendations for action. These plans should have the following ingredients:
- Priorities. In previous planning processes committees have tended, in my judgment, to provide laundry lists of good things to do without setting priorities among the items listed. There are ten initiatives underway and the amount of resources that the University can reallocate or new resources that it can glean is very limited. All planning documents must set a clearly prioritized set of recommendations. What are those few actions which will have the greatest effect in actualizing your initiative and in transforming the institution? Put another way, imagine that a blue line will be drawn at some point out of fiscal necessity and the recommendations above it will be implemented and those beneath it will be postponed. Be very clear about what are your top priorities and just as clear in explaining why these are key.
- Responsible Persons/Units. In formulating your recommendations you must specify who will be responsible for executing those recommendations if accepted. Obviously you must discuss with the responsible persons or units whether or not they are prepared to act on your recommendations.
- Timetable. Please suggest a timetable for implementation. In newer, more experimental endeavors the University tends to favor an incremental strategy.
- Measurements. How will you know that the actions that you recommend are successful in reaching the goals that you set out to accomplish through them. Not everything that we try will work. How will we know that a particular action is working? All recommendations should be accompanied by suggested measurements or means of assessment through which we will be able to ascertain the success or failure of the endeavor. Some of these measurements must be quantitative in naure; all of them should be appropriate to the kind of activity that they measure.
- Criteria for priortizing actions. In selecting the initiatives the members of the Joint Council worked with a set of criteria. Some of these criteria may also help you to priortize specific actions underneath those initiatives.
- Ripeness. Are we ready to do what you are asking? High priority actions should build upon what we are already doing.
- Sustainable. Can we put the resources in place so that we can sustain this activity over the long haul and include it in the regular operations of the institution.?
- Strategic Advantage. What will give us the skills and competencies as an institution that we think that we will need ten years from now?
- 4.Sequencing. What actions must we do first in order to be able to do other good things later?
- Conservation of energy. This is very important to faculty and staff given the number of new and important tasks that we are being asked to do. What are the few things that we could do which will have the maximum effect in achieving the goals of this initiative? Is the action recommended designed to make optimal use of limited human and material resources?
- Measurable. As I indicated above, we need to be able to know whether or not an action is successful in achieving its goals.
- Competitive. Will the action enable us to outdistance our competitors?
- Creative. While building upon the past does the action, open up new possibilities for the University to grow and to enhance the quality of education, thereby achieving one or more of its three educational goals?
- Meeting Schedules. Obviously each of the initiative committees faces a formidable task. We ask that you work intensively to address the charges that you have been given. I appreciate your willingness to meet for at least one meeting in December. Please cooperate with your coordinator in setting up schedules for your deliberations during the Winter quarter.
Thanks, again, for your contributions in time, energy and in creative thinking.