I’m finalising this post at Sydney airport, waiting for a plane to Bathurst after delays due to storms. It has been nice to have some time to sit down and attend to things after a hectic couple of weeks.
If you’ve been following this blog, you will know that we have been working on revising the narrative and strategy for the university. As I noted back in May while we have a strategic plan that covers the bases, I feel we are still lacking clarity about our overall mission, institutional story, or narrative as I have called it. I believe we need this to ensure we are all on the same page and focussed. That post kicked off discussions to find a more powerful expression of what we are truly about.
I have enjoyed the robust conversations, feedback and comments from many forums since. I have found everyone’s contributions to be very valuable in testing new and refined ideas. I’ve also been put on to some great readings (have been really enjoying David Whyte’s ‘The Heart Aroused’).
As the new narrative started to emerge, in discussions I think it also confirmed that the existing 2011-15 University Strategy document needed to be distilled into a new condensed and more focussed format. This is not to throw out the old, but builds on and clarifies the best parts of our work over the last few years.
With your help, we have made significant progress in our narrative and documentation to a stage where I think it is in a suitable format to seek broader comments and feedback. Although still draft, the latest version of the University Strategy and Actions 2013-2015 is provided here – CSU Strategy Draft.
If it is to be effective, strategic planning needs to be tested against the reality of an organisation and its communities. I would welcome your honest opinion on how this document is shaping up. I also plan to test this with our students and alumni and our community through our Heads of Campus and this blog.
I think it is good and getting close; it will never be perfect. I have found that exposing and testing drafts through the process has really helped to clarify thinking and wording on the document and this will really be the last chance for this year. We are intending that the second page (as printed – page 3 in this PDF draft) stays fairly constant but that the detailed priorities on the third page (as printed – page 4 in this PDF draft) will probably be updated each year with the planning cycle. I think the final paragraph in the narrative – talking about using technology to achieve mobility and reach people wherever they are – needs a tweak of some sort still. One challenge from a staff member was that many university mission statements read as ‘middle-aged whitefella dreaming’. I hope that’s not all it is: I can’t avoid two of those tags, if I’m dreaming I’d like them to be good dreams.
There has been strong approval for the inclusion of the Wiradjuri phrase and I have to say that personally I love it. I have pointed out that we need to honour this by being serious about living up to the challenge it sets.
The back page of the document articulates how it is intended it to be used. However, a key point to keep in mind is that this document is not intended to be completely inclusive by naming everything that is happening in the university. I think one of the problems with strategic planning is that you can end up with a document that attempts to honour every part of the organisation, and lacks clarity as a result. This does not mean that functions or areas that are not directly referenced are not important nor that they will not still have actions or responsibilities in the overall plan. However, it probably does mean that change in those areas is not our most important priority in the short term.
Your feedback would be appreciated in the form of a comment to the blog, or if you prefer, a quick email or blog of your thoughts, hand written mark-ups, and/or ‘tracked changes’ to email@example.com by COB Friday 16 November 2012. A refined and final version will ultimately be presented to University Council in December 2012.
I really look forward to hearing from you.