“Oh, and watch out for the flying monkeys.”
We all know there’s at least one Scarecrow, in the long history of scarecrows, that would have appreciated that nugget of advice early on. Nothing overly specific. Wouldn’t have had to interrupt the song and dance. Just a quick heads up from one of the waving Munchkins, so that if the Scarecrow were to find himself being disemboweled by a pack of winged primates, it at least wouldn’t have come as a total shock.
Obviously, the advice never came. And in the end, the journey along the yellow brick road turned out ok.
There’s a lot we can learn from that.
Any time you develop a strategic plan, it’s kind of like your own little yellow brick road. There’s no way anyone can know what creepy monsters, witches, or poisoned fields of poppy are out there lurking, waiting to knock us off our course.
But what we do know, with virtual certainty, is that getting derailed from time to time is inevitable. It will happen. It might be a shake up in administrative staff that brings some of the plan’s tactical executions to a screeching halt. A sudden institutional PR crisis. Faculty uproar. A misinterpretation, miscommunication, or some misinformation related to the plan that sends things sideways for a bit.
There’s no shortage of circumstances that can swoop in and try tearing your strategic plan from limb to limb along the side of the road. But the key is to, first, realize that some obstacle—big or small—may be waiting around any corner. And, second, to never lose sight of the fact that the yellow brick road is there for a reason. Its purpose is to take your institution to that magical place where it can thrive well into the future.
It’s ok if things get sidetracked. Clearly it’s not what anyone’s aiming for. But you’ve got to be real in terms of expectations. And when those monsters do rear their ugly heads, it’s critical that you and your team have the gumption to overcome it, persevere, and find your way back to the road.
Singing and skipping is optional.