State Fair Community College

5P1 Setting directions

How do your leaders set directions in alignment with your mission, vision, and values and that are conducive to high performance, individual development and initiative, organizational learning, and innovation? How do these directions take into account the needs and expectations of students and key stakeholder groups and create a strong focus on students and learning?
Strategic planning at SFCC is about systematically determining the future rather than reacting and adapting to it. Through the strategic planning process, the college leadership sets directions that are in alignment with the college’s mission, vision and values. The planning process is a methodical and comprehensive development and communication system designed to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of students. SFCC’s philosophical approach to planning requires looking at current performance and analyzing the gaps between present conditions and the envisioned future. Strategic planning, as well as unit goals and objectives, increase effectiveness and develop consensus and commitment to important issues related directly to student learning. The implementation of strategic initiatives is a series of ongoing processes linked to AQIP action projects, budget development and continuous quality improvement.
The strategic plan includes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ensure high performance, individual development, organizational learning and innovation. KPIs are compared to and/or benchmarked against similar institutions primarily through the National Community College Benchmark Project (NCCBP). Institutional dashboards are created to measure progress toward the goals outlined in the strategic plan. Monthly progress reports are provided to the board throughout the academic year.
Once the strategic plan is approved by the board, the vice presidents are charged with developing annual unit goals and objectives that support the plan. KPIs are identified and dashboards are created to measure progress related to unit goals and objectives. Additionally, vice presidents are assigned specific data watch elements that ensure progress on institutional and unit initiatives. The ELT, IMT, AQIP Oversight Team and improvement and hot teams (ad hoc solution teams) as well as campus forums, and employee and student associations contribute to discussions and decisions that are made to assure institutional alignment with the college mission, vision and values. Various teams and associations provide for a wide range of input that allows for multiple points of view. The multiple input channels also provide venues for individual development and participation by allowing more people to be involved in the process of making decisions and carrying out the vision. Wide-spread ownership of planning, alignment and direction contributes to high performance, employee development and organizational learning.
An excellent example of how this kind of decision-making process works is directly related to the college’s application to be accredited through AQIP. President Drennon’s former college was one of the first AQIP institutions. Dr. Drennon participated in the process and learned a great deal from the experience. She understood that the decision to participate had to come from the employees and that they would need information, education and practice regarding the process. Consequently, SFCC employees spent a year “playing” with AQIP, learning the language, understanding the process, and practicing the development and implementation of AQIP projects. Numerous employees participated in AQIP workshops, seminars and training sessions. The new accreditation process was studied and analyzed by members of the college community. A college-wide decision to become an AQIP institution was made a year later and announced at a college convocation.
Currently, most full-time employees have participated, directly or indirectly with AQIP. Most have served on an improvement team and many have been involved in AQIP projects and helped to develop the Systems Portfolio. Consequently, setting the direction and ensuring alignment with SFCC’s mission and vision came somewhat naturally. The process has been institutionalized and is implemented on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, when unit/departmental retreats and campus forums/colloquia are conducted it is expected that participants have performed due diligence in terms of including student and stakeholder perspectives. While it is often difficult to get student participation, numerous surveys and other venues for input inform the discussions that take place.

Further, accreditation Criterion 1 is reflected in the college’s commitment to shared governance and participatory leadership at all levels of the organization. Successful accomplishment of the college’s mission is the direct result of high performance, identification of stakeholder needs (see Figure 5P1.1), and organizational learning and innovation. As a learning institution, SFCC is dedicated to these areas of focus.

Figure 5P1.1 Primary stakeholder groups and identified needs

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