2010 marked a year of incredible progress for engaging our colleagues in the work of our Purpose, Vision, and Values and our Strategic Directions. Several of you submitted creative and substantive entries for our Values Contest; hundreds participated in the Comprehensive Budget Planning Focus Groups; and nearly 800 participated in the “Extension Reconsidered: Connecting and Engaging with our Future” plenary activity at the Connections and Engagement Conference.
Working with the Cooperative Extension Administrative Committee and the Council for Strategic Change, we have conducted an extensive analysis of the data collected at these events. Many of the ideas and concerns gathered were consistent with the strategic plan recommendations. Nonetheless these processes were critical because they not only engaged our colleagues, but also because they revealed where we have, and do not have, energy and commitment for change.
For instance, it is very clear that we need to increase our flexibility as an organization by reducing the barriers created by our silos; that a local presence is critical to our success; and that effective relationships with our stakeholders in counties, the state, and the UW-System are vital to achieving our purpose.
As you know, I view organizational strategic planning as an ongoing competency for Cooperative Extension – rather than a one-time event where “the strategic plan” sits on a shelf with little hope of implementation. I have asked the Council for Strategic Change to make a long-term commitment toward planning, implementing, coordinating, and evaluating our progress toward achieving our Strategic Directions, Purpose, Vision and Values.
The Council for Strategic Change consists of twelve members, selected by myself, who serve three-year rotational terms. Additionally, membership includes myself as an Ex-Officio member, staffing from the Dean’s office, and a facilitator. At this time, we are recruiting new membership. Please see the Call for Nominations and nominate yourself or others. Nominations are due to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by January 21, 2011.
Implementing the Strategic Directions
Structuring ourselves for Success: I have asked the Council for Strategic Change to continue working with the Cooperative Extension Administrative Committee, Unit Directors, and Governance representatives on identifying, mapping, and analyzing Cooperative Extension’s core administrative functions. This work began following the Connections and Engagement Conference and will result in creating, eliminating, and aligning functions and structures. This will allow us to increase programmatic flexibility and increase our effectiveness at achieving our purpose. I have asked that their recommendations are completed by early spring. At that time, I will invite a few of you – along with external stakeholders – to participate in two Short-term Action Teams: County Staffing and Specialist Staffing. These action teams will select and finalize recommendations, design a timeline for implementation, and invite reactions from colleagues.
While I understand that many of you are feeling a great deal of uncertainty about our organizational structure, it is very important that we don’t make these changes lightly. There is also a great deal of uncertainty about state and county budgets. We will have more information in late spring that will certainly influence our decisions in these areas. I should also note that we are on track with the deliberate course outlined in the Comprehensive Budget Planning timeline.
I have charged the Council for Strategic Change, Cooperative Extension Administrative Committee, Unit Directors, and participating Governance representatives to submit recommendations that offer a high degree of flexibility to these two short-term action teams. Flexibility will allow us to be resilient during budget challenges/reductions and also create opportunities for future growth.
The Change Frontiers:
All four Strategic Directions are very interrelated and recommendations are not easily contained within one particular Strategic Direction. In December 2010 I announced several Change Frontiers, or recommendations, that are organizational priorities. Several of the Change Frontier recommendations are already in progress. There are four areas where I would like to see coordinated and targeted action toward specific recommendations.
- Political Effectiveness and Awareness Building
- Inclusive Excellence
I will announce opportunities to participate in these four Action Teams in February.
Please use this text link to access a PDF version of ”Implementing our Strategic Directions.” The interactive PDF version includes several links to additional resources.
Thank you for your continued work in providing scholarly programming that is valued by our audiences – and for your contributions toward transforming Cooperative Extension from “Good to Great“!