Fourteen years and a lifetime ago, I wrote a book on strategic planning for CASE. Since that time, my thinking about the role and function of strategic planning in the higher education space has changed dramatically.
This change has occurred for three reasons:
- The constant and constantly changing barrage of challenges and opportunities facing higher education do not lend themselves to
a long strategic planning process
- Traditional strategic planning models underestimate the political
realities of planning and execution in today’s environment of scarcity
As I wrote the first two bullets I had an interesting thought. While it may seem a bit harsh, I couldn’t help but wonder:
- If today’s planning processes and models are so great, why are so
many colleges in tough shape?
I began to wonder, further, if the historical approach to strategic planning, an approach that stresses complicated processes over one, two, or even three years, needs to be rethought. I wondered if it was time for a new approach; an approach that is dexterous, more anticipatory, and more fluid. An approach that is, in a word, elegant.