Paul Hennigan has time.
OK, actually, he’s a busy man. But when it comes to the future of Point Park University, its 864 faculty and staff and 3,986 students, it’s worth spending two years on a strategic planning process.
“I saw our strategic planning process as a transition from survival management to managing for quality,” says the president, who’s working with a fiscal 2010 budget of $82.7 million and an endowment of $20.6 million. “In order to make that transition, I thought that we needed to take our time and do a bottom-up approach.”
Smart Business spoke to Hennigan about planning with input.
Q. How can you involve others in a strategic planning process?
Within the university, we created 40 planning teams. It was pretty much along programmatic lines. We just identified a facilitator who would be a logical choice — it could have been the program leader or the No. 2 person. Then we invited the whole university community to be a part of any one of those planning teams, so they self-selected. We had great turnout and great involvement because we promised people that we would listen.
Externally, we did the same thing; we created some focus groups. You just have to ask yourself, ‘Who are our consumers, who are our stakeholders, and who are our partners?’ Be willing to not be all that critical upfront about who you’re reaching out to. It’s far better to be more inclusive than not because you really get a wide range of opinions and input.
For the program teams, we said, ‘What are the strengths of your program? What are the weaknesses? What are the opportunities, and what are the threats?’ That was all qualitative; it was all opinion. And then we said, ‘How do you know?’ We asked them to develop benchmark criteria and then we said, ‘Who do you want to benchmark against?’ They created a peer group who they thought were their peers, and then they created an aspirant group who they thought were schools that they aspired to.
So then you have a sense of relevance. We exist now in relationship to this set of criteria, and we can begin to measure ourselves against that.
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