Strategic Planning and the Constituent Experience

By Brian Bolt posted 04-19-2021 12:08 PM


In the midst of the pandemic last year, Boise State initiated a multi-month effort to develop a new strategic plan. From the many engagement sessions and listening tours, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee developed a vision, mission, and goals that will write Boise State's next chapter.

Distilled into five goals, the University's proposed Strategic Plan will expand and implement leading-edge innovations, enhance the comprehensive student experience, develop research that positively impacts lives, foster a thriving community, and enhance pathbreaking interdisciplinary programs and activities. The constituent experience plays a supporting and enabling role in our Strategic Plan, and this month we launched a project to improve enterprise communications.  The first ten weeks of the project is meant to discover and document our current marketing structure, processes, strategy, and systems. 

Although the discovery process may not be the most enjoyable process for a technology-centric person, it is a necessary part of project planning.  Older versions of the Project Management Body of Knowledge referred to the modern discovery process as "determine company culture and existing systems" and "collect processes, procedures and historical information".  I must admit, I like the term "discovery" in the context of the early phases of a project; however, I can't help but think of a famous comedian's diatribe on euphemisms, which are the words that are used as a mild or indirect substitutes for ones that would now be considered to be too harsh or blunt.  In this instance, we replace determining culture and collect historical information with "discovery".  However, I'm here to say that discovery is not to be mistaken for blithely charting a course without headwinds or swirling seas.  Rather, attempting to discover means foraging into the land of institutional culture where sharing information can be seen as the road to ceding control over an individual or team's domain.  A tough road, this project management and constituent experience path.

The success of our project to effectively target and coordinate communications from our institution is a sizable undertaking that will require patience, persistence, project management chops, change management finesse, and a fair amount of trust - much like successfully implementing the University's Strategic Play. I count myself lucky to have a chance to support both initiatives, and will share our experiences in future blog posts.




04-27-2021 01:15 AM

Late to the party but great insights, and to echo Marty keen to read this series as it develops.

We're in the discovery phase of a similar project, and having discussions that are crossing boundaries in the institution. We've already found that there's alot of simple fixes and potential process improvements that exist independent of the project, and could just be a matter of teams talking to each other and breaking those silos down!

04-20-2021 09:38 AM

You point out a key issue faced in all organizations:  "attempting to discover means foraging into the land of institutional culture where sharing information can be seen as the road to ceding control over an individual or team's domain"

Breaking down the silos will allow for a new vision of team collaboration and communication which will result in greater efficiency and better flow of information across the multiple teams.  It is an elusive goal but very much worth pursuing!

04-19-2021 10:19 PM

I'm looking forward to reading this series as it progresses Brian. That's a great opener. I love the discovery phase myself, and having been involved in a few projects where discovery was  a more token effort, and then reaping the not so ripe, not so appetising fruit of that process, I find myself coming back to reflect on this with each new piece of work. Also, when truly when using agile methodology.

A great point you make about sharing within an institution and the reluctance that always exist, but indeed this is key. It is also key to remain vigilant after the fact when that culture if not minded, starts to creep back and have discrete units start claw back the data they think they 'own'.

That said, there do tend to be areas, e.g. health, accessibility etc who do have particular data requirements, an.d again, it is way better to discover these up front than to try and re-engineer something that's implemented for a more generic service group.