Strategy, Planning and Communication
One burning question that today's academic leaders face is how to encourage a more vibrant and resilient institution in an era of rapidly changing expectations and conditions. Many people feel more comfortable, for instance when leaders follow a traditional planning process that allows all the pressing organizational issues to come to the table simultaneously. But such processes usually fail to ignite the imagination of stakeholders or anticipate occasional reversals and unexpected opportunities.
Leaders may want to take a more flexible approach: one that establishes reachable priorities, advances those, and then moves on to the next priorities, all the while reminding listeners that the community will engage the full range of issues on a rotating basis. This creative style draws energy from stakeholders' interests rather than imposing more bureaucratic processes that may fail to engage their passions.
A well-designed communication strategy is an essential component to this leadership approach. By framing the narrative of the organization, that is, constantly telling the story of the institution's vision and priorities, a leader can deliver a coherent message of "one institution" that is critically important in academic communities where loyalties to one's scholarly discipline, department, programmatic center, or professional association compete for scholars' attention (and precious time).
Drawing on her own research, experience
and in-depth talks with top administrators and scholars from
leading universities, Susan Frost has developed new
ways to advance universities and colleges. She believes that day-to-day
decisions making such as hiring leaders, handling budget constraints,
meeting accreditation requirements, and assembling a campus master
plan can provide key opportunities to advance an institution strategically-and
creating a culture of trust, rationality, and open communication in
which stakeholders can flourish are keys to continued success.