Our 'Defining and articulating your vision, mission and values' guide gives advice on how to ensure these essential building blocks for your institutional strategic planning are fit for purpose. However, it is achieving the successful interweaving of these high-level strategic priorities and the day-to-day activities of individual teams and members of staff across the institution that often proves the weak point in many organisations’ strategic activity.
Without care it is easy for lofty ambitions and statements of intent to be articulated at ‘the top’, whilst below it the rest of the organisation largely carries on regardless, either unaware of the new challenges set or simply unable to realise them due to existing or competing pressures.
Much of the guidance provided in the 'Defining and articulating your vision, mission and values' guide has been designed to prevent the common criticism of strategy formulation as a ‘one-way, top down process,’ By encouraging the active participation and engagement of the institution at large, it is to be hoped that some of these criticisms will be prevented and that individual teams and members of staff are, at least, aware of what the institution is trying to achieve, where it is heading and how it intends to get there.
But awareness alone is not enough. All the grass roots enthusiasm and engagement in the world is not enough to enable strides to be taken towards achieving these goals if there is no mechanism for translating them into part of regular organisational behaviour and the annual, monthly, weekly and even daily planning that goes on within every faculty, department and team.
Nor can progress be made if it is not made possible to feed the consequences of unforeseen circumstance and the need for pragmatic action in the light of events back into the planning loop.
With the best will in the world and with all the environment scanning techniques at your disposal, it is inevitable that your institution and its staff will continue to be affected by unexpected events and issues which do not appear in your strategic plans, but which need to be addressed nonetheless.
What it is that enables the successful interweaving and co-ordination between high level planning and day to day events and activities, managing strategic activity, are the focus of this infoKit.
The institutional experience
"Part way through this process, a new planning cycle was introduced within all professional services departments by the university’s new registrar who joined the institution in autumn 2009. The proposed cycle cut across my own timeline, which had been planned before the new planning arrangements were developed.
I negotiated with the registrar that our own input into the planning process would be provisional, pending the completion of our strategic review. This had the potential to be problematic and/or to de-rail our activity.
In reality there has been no difficulty. At the same time, the delayed production of the university strategic plan has enabled me to cross-refer to the emerging corporate document at a point at which our own thinking was more mature, and the two processes have thus been mutually reinforcing. This experience perhaps speaks most to the helpfully pragmatic commentary on unexpected events set out in this part of the guide."
Read our guide on 'Defining and articulating your vision, mission and values.'