Creating and Implementing a Purposeful Strategic Plan

with Ashli Grabau, Michelle Murphy

About This Course

Starting with the end in mind, strategic planning is the key to true innovation for any organization. This program will allow attendees to lead a strategic planning process grounded in theory and assessment. This session will emphasize successful implementation strategies to keep the plan alive and the process moving forward. Participants will leave with tools and lessons learned that can be applied to their institution to help transform the vision and direction of programs and services, even in times of limited resources.

In Learning Reconsidered 2, Richard P. Keeling (2006) addresses the importance of strategic planning as “highly contextual; it is sensitive to current expectations, perceptions, and pressures, and to the availability and flow of resources during any given period of time.” In times of limited resources it is critical to evaluate current practices and explore new and enhanced ways of providing programs and services to meet the needs of an ever-changing campus population.  Strategic planning is crucial to leading institutions to new levels of success, where innovation is the key to transforming the student experience.

In building a culture of evidence that impacts student success, student affairs professionals must be able to link planning and assessment at both the macro level of strategic planning and the micro levels of program development and student learning outcomes (Culp & Dungy, 2012).  Therefore, a comprehensive strategic planning process must include intentional assessment and evaluation practices.  One aspect of an in depth strategic plan requires a multifaceted approach in order to fully comprehend the needs of the students and campus stakeholders. An example of a strategic planning process at Mizzou included a CAS self-assessment, but also conducted an internal program audit, campus partners and leadership programs audit, benchmarking study with peer institutions, SWOC analysis and needs assessment.  This process resulted in a three year comprehensive plan that is student-centered. The office is currently in its third and final year of implementing its strategic plan.

Through our presentation we plan to share the key fundamentals of this strategic planning approach grounded in assessment and evaluation; a strategic plan blueprint. In Creating Your Strategic Plan: A Workbook for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, Bryson (2004) outlines an “ABC” model of strategic planning which includes A) figuring out where you are (data gathering and self-assessment), B) figuring out where you want to go (SWOC analysis, needs assessment, synthesizing the data and visioning), and C) figuring how to get there (involving stakeholders, team approach etc.).  This session will provide participants with an understanding of the formation of a successful strategic plan which illustrates the ABC model. By sharing lessons learned and our process, participants will be able to adapt this strategic plan blueprint in order to successfully lead strategic planning in their areas at their respective institutions.

Strategic planning is crucial to leading institutions to new levels of success, however, challenges with navigating the process and implementing the plan can limit that success.  Keeling (2006) further explains “In many colleges and universities, strategic planning has a bad name.  Its legacy is often one of high effort with little return – and, therefore, of low value.”  This session will specifically address how to implement a strategic plan managing the effort needed while at the same time ensuring its value. These strategies include identifying metrics that inform the process and designate success, quarterly review processes, and marketing the plan to name few.  Furthermore, through this session the role of strategic team members as well as stakeholders will be explored as key components of the plan’s success.

It is important to remember “Strategic planning works when it has purpose, focus, and follow-through; when it has a balance of broad participation and effective leadership; and when it reflects a practical vision that links it at once to aspirations and grounded realities (Keeling, 2006).”  It is evident that strategic planning is a unique process because of variations in institutional culture; however, there are key components that can be applied to all institutions that can help to guarantee success.  By sharing lessons learned and our process, participants will be able to adapt these approaches in order to successfully create and implement strategic planning in their areas at their respective institutions. Overall, our goal through this presentation is to demonstrate that effective strategic planning is a necessary component in enhancing the student experience and advancing programs and services in higher education.

Related Posts

  • #SATakeSpace: “How Do We Move Forward?”

    In the wake of the election results, NASPA created #SATakeSpace – an online space for student affairs professionals to intentionally address and process feelings, experiences, and reactions to the 2016 Presidential Election. The hashtag was utilized by student affairs professionals to share resources as they move forward. Individuals were also invited to participate in #SATakeSpace Dialogue Groups. The dialogue groups allowed for participants to discuss the election in a more intimate setting, with colleagues across the country.

    Posted on December 1, 2016 at 10:11 AM by KEEA HART, MARKETING CONTRACTOR
  • #NASPAgives on #GivingTuesday

    The 2016 #NASPAgives on #GivingTuesday campaign was recordbreaking! In just 24 hours, 141 donors gave a whopping $10,742! Add to that the $2500 matching gift, generously provided by our friends at Capstone on Campus Management, and we have a grand total of $13,242. Heartfelt gratitude to everyone who made this day a success.

    Posted on November 30, 2016 at 11:56 AM by Amy Sajko, Senior Director, NASPA Foundation
  • Comprehensive Student Record Convening underway in Indianapolis - Telling Our Students’ Stories

    Cosr2025-01 web-blog

    The Comprehensive Student Record Convening has launched in Indianapolis, bringing together the sponsors of the project—Lumina, AACRAO, and NASPA—along with representatives from the twelve institutions that have taken the first step in more fully telling their students’ stories by exploring comprehensive student records. Over the next two days, participants will enjoy a deep dive into the successes and lessons learned from paving the path to capturing the holistic learning on campus, as well as come together around the work still to be done to achieve the goal of increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

    Posted on November 28, 2016 at 02:17 PM by Matthew Bennett, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications
  • Notes & Coffee: November 14-20

    Ncnew 566x220 large

    Catch up on this week’s trending student affairs and higher ed news including the strong correlation continues between poverty and graduation rates; flag burning protests on campus; white house gathering on higher-ed innovation with Trump as the elephant in the room; how process automation can transform the non-traditional student experience; feeling unsafe on campus; and finding joy in the chaos.

    Posted on November 20, 2016 at 07:52 AM by Keea Hart, Marketing Contractor, NASPA
  • Notes & Coffee: November 7-13

    Ncnew 566x220 large

    Catch up on this week’s trending student affairs and higher ed news including 300 students escort a fellow student to class after she reports racial harassment; campus sexual assault in a Trump America; a new era for disability rights; a special report on supporting military veteran students; and President Kruger offers his thoughts on moving forward post election.

    Posted on November 14, 2016 at 07:58 AM by Matthew Bennett, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications
View All Blog Posts


Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education
By Kenneth J. Osfield, Brett Perozzi, Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo, Robert Shea, and Associates

Internationalization of higher education is one of the most important trends for the next decade and beyond, and the implications for student affairs and services are enormous. Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education examines what internationalization concretely means for higher education with a specific focus on student affairs and services.

The Culturally Engaging Campus Environments Model and Survey
By Samuel D. Museus and Edward J. Smith

This report provides an overview of the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments Model and Survey. It examines the importance of building and sustaining campus environments that deeply engage the cultural backgrounds and identities of diverse student populations to improve holistic development, sense of belonging, campus engagement, and success outcomes.

Coordinating Student Affairs Divisional Assessment
By Kimberly Yousey-Elsener, Erin Bentrim, and Gavin Henning

The need for the new role of student affairs assessment coordinator has emerged in response to the increasing demand for outcomes information, the proliferation of data, and the recognition that coordinating this work within divisions is of paramount importance.

College in the Crosshairs
By Brandi Hephner Labanc and Brian O. Hemphill, Editors

Gun violence – whether rampage shootings, homicides or suicides – is a potential reality all campuses have to face. This book provides leaders in higher education – and particularly those in student affairs – with data about past incidents, an analysis of trends, and background on the national debate about gun policies and how they impact colleges, state by state.