Strategic plans, theoretical models and just doing it

Suffering a minor malaise brought on the strategic/operational planning process currently underway at my place of work. As a process it always seems an exercise in futility and frustration, but at least the current process is significantly better than some I’ve observed.

The problem is that it’s all based on a faulty assumption. That an institution can respond to an incredibly complex and rapidly changing context by having some smart people go away for a few months and create a theoretical conception of the way forward for the institution. A theoretical conception informed by their own existing schemata, which in an incredibly complex and rapidly changing context are always going to be insufficient. Especially when those smart people are those that have been successful in the current system which is based on old ideals. Some (many?) of which are unlikely to be relevant in the future.

As it happens one of those smart people came across the following tweet/image which essentially summarises what is wrong with this approach.

I’d suggest some additional related statements

  • A prototype is worth a thousand strategic plans.
  • A prototype is worth a thousand theoretical models.

and also the definition that a prototype is NOT some toy system that no-one uses. It’s a system that has been used in anger and been used to learn real practical lessons.

The illusion of the “one university”

Much of this practice seems to emerge from the belief that it’s important that the institution take center state. The institution has to have a plan, a set of graduate attributes, a set of systems for doing X etc. Perhaps an artefact of the rise of the Vice-Chancellor as CEO approach to leading universities.

I find this increasing importance of “one university” way of doing things interesting when talking about personal/personalised learning and the inherent diversity and flexibility inherent in such a concept.

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