President's Monthly Reports
“Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy.
To do nothing and have it count for something.
To lie in the grass and count the stars.
To sit on a branch and study the clouds.”
Regina Brett; NY Times bestselling author, 1956 -
So, why would anyone ruin a perfectly good summer by making plans? I mean, there’s certainly a part of me – and perhaps a part of you as well – that would love to make use of the “permission slip” that Regina Brett writes about; to do little or nothing and not feel bad about it! And yet, here at LBCC summer is, more than any other season, the season for planning, and I would like to outline some of the planning we have in store for us over these next few summer months.
Four years ago, we at LBCC adopted, in principle, a model of “Continuous Improvement,” necessitating not so much a static Strategic Plan but instead an engagement in continuous and iterative strategic planning. Since that time we have made considerable progress in implementing this model for improving institutional effectiveness and, in spite of the delays and distractions caused by some unprecedented reductions in funding, we are now at a place where most of the planning pieces are in place.
The basic components of Continuous Improvement are most often represented as four sequential and reoccurring steps (from the American Society for Quality):
- Plan: Identify an opportunity and plan for change.
- Do: Implement the change on a small scale.
- Check: Use data to analyze the results of the change and determine whether it made a difference.
- Act: If the change was successful, implement it on a wider scale and continuously assess your results. If the change did not work, begin the cycle again.
You may recognize this is the model and methodology on which all of our work with Achieving the Dream is based. With AtD, the iterative cycle of Plan->Do->Check->Act is being employed to help us improve Remedial Education, Advising, and the First Year Student Experience (specifically, Destination Graduation), all for the purpose of helping us to achieve our three Strategic Goals of Productivity, Equity, and Quality. And these AtD “initiatives” are among the 12 Strategic Initiatives that we adopted for ourselves almost three years ago, all of which are part of our ongoing Strategic Planning efforts (For more detailed information on our 3 Strategic Goals and the 12 Initiatives designed to help us achieve them, take a look at https://www.linnbenton.edu/faculty-and-staff/strategic-initiatives).
- Productivity (Student completion increased by 50%)
- Equity (Access and Completion is an equal reality for all)
- Quality (Completion lives up the promise of a better job, a better life)
I won’t list all 12 here but, if you take a look at the web page linked above, I think you’ll see just how much these Strategic Initiatives have guided our work over the past two years, and just how far we’ve come along in our implementing them.
Our Implementation Model
Continuous Improvement: Plan->Do->Check->Act
So, what does all this have to do with this summer of 2014? Let me show you.
Over the next three months, we at LBCC will be engaged is a succession of planning meetings and retreats, specifically designed to guide and support this year’s continuous improvement efforts, and producing the next iteration of strategies and priorities that we will employ this next year in moving ever closer to the achievement of our Mission and Strategic Goals. Here are the “planning groups”, their scheduled meeting/retreat dates, and the planning role that each of them is playing in this year’s planning cycle:
PRESIDENT’S STAFF RETREAT
ALL COLLEGE LEADERSHIP RETREAT
July (date yet to be determined)
- Values Council
- This is a newly formed group, its creation coinciding with our adoption of a new statement of LBCC Values. Their purpose is to develop and then lead us in implementing strategies for our understanding and acting on our Values in the workplace, as well as developing and then implementing instruments and metrics by which we will measure our progress toward the embodiment of these Values by the members of the LBCC community.
- Their planning “product” is an annual report on the extent to which we are living true to our values, together with specific and targeted recommendations for our improvement.
- MERIT’s purpose is to use annual and historic performance data to assess the extent to which we have achieved and/or are making progress toward the achievement of our Mission and Strategic Goals (including those being pursued in conjunction with AtD)
- Their planning “product” is an annual report on Mission and Goal attainment, together with recommended investments for improvement.
- President’s Staff
- The President’s Staff uses its summer Retreat to review the reports from MERIT and the Values Council, consider other qualitative and quantitative assessments that are available, and then develop both shared and individual leadership goals and strategies for coming year.
- Their planning “product” is a draft list of goals and strategies for leadership in guiding LBCC toward our achievement of Mission and Strategic Goals.
- Board Retreat
- Utilizing the assessment of both Board and President performance over the past year, together with the Reports from the Values Council, MERIT, and President’s Staff, identify areas for focused improvement and investment, together with specific roles for Board and President in making those improvements and investments.
- The Board’s planning “product” is the refinement of strategic direction for the College and goals for Board and President for the coming year.
- All-College Leadership Retreat
- Utilizing input/reports from the Values Council, MERIT, President’s Staff, and Board, the various leadership groups of the College (Student Leadership, Faculty Association Leadership, Classified Association Leadership, College Council, Instructional Managers, Diversity and Civic Engagement Council, Values Council, MERIT, President’s Staff, and more) further refine strategic goals and directions for the College for the coming year, together with specific identification of the goals and responsibilities that each of these leadership groups will need to take on for LBCC to make progress toward the attainment of our Mission and Strategic Goals.
“products” of the All-College Leadership work include:
- Refined goals and strategic directions for LBCC for FY14-15
- Individual leadership group goals and responsibilities in support of LBCC goals and strategic directions for FY14-15.
- Fall In-Service
- Presenting an “annual report” on progress toward the attainment of our LBCC Mission and Strategic Goals, together with a vision and strategic plan for continuing our progress in FY14-15.
- The “product” of In-Service is a broader understanding of the Mission, Values, and Strategic Goals of LBCC, together with a wider and deeper understanding of our individual opportunities and responsibilities in our continuous progress toward their attainment.
And, in addition to all of the above, in this next cycle/year we will also be working to synchronize a number of more specialized planning processes with the one described here, making cleaner and more effective connections between the institutional work of Continuous Improvement and the work of Program Review, Curriculum/Program Development, Budget Development and others.
Whew!!!!! Describing it all both excites me and wears me out……. pretty much like all of life’s pursuits that matter. But still, it is Summer, and it seems to me that my July Report should include at least a bit of the levity that the season deserves.
Therefore, and owing to my theological training, I want to end this Report with a quote about summer from one of the great theologians and writers of the late 19th Century, G.K. Chesterton.
“Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer's day along a dusty English road,
and he will soon discover why beer was invented.”
Gilbert K. Chesterton; Christian apologist; 1874 – 1936
So, all planning work aside, I do hope that all of us will experience the joy of idleness at least a few times this summer. I hope that we will make use of our “annual permission slip to be lazy” and that we will come to September and the opening of a new school year refreshed in body and renewed in spirit. This too should be a part of our “Plan.”