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The management team held a retreat facilitated by Maggie Chotas and Betsy Polk shortly before the holiday break.  Our focus was on ways to make our work for the School more effective and more innovative.  The details involved lots of inside baseball, but everyone agreed that it was productive and helpful.  I left the retreat feeling like we have a terrific team, and we are prepared to work together even more effectively.

Let me describe a few of the decisions that we made during the retreat.

Ellen Bradley Added to the Management Team. One of the first decisions was to make Ellen a regular member of the management team.  The communications and marketing function cuts across all of our work and it needs to be fully involved as we make important decisions.  It was an especially easy decision in light of Ellen’s creativity and good judgment.  Here’s the lineup for the management team: Frayda Bluestein, Ellen Bradley, Todd Nicolet, Ann Simpson, Tom Thornburg, Brad Volk, and me.  Check out the management team page on the intranet for an updated org chart and details on the responsibilities of each member of the team: team/.

Clarifying the Roles of the Management Team and the Dean’s Advisory Council. The main difference is that the management team makes decisions and the DAC is advisory.  The DAC also is more broadly representative.  We clarified what kinds of decisions can be made by individual team members in their respective areas and what kinds of decisions must come to the entire management team.  Although I am responsible for major decisions, the management team and I typically operate by consensus.  Members of the management team will begin attending DAC meetings so that they might benefit from the DAC’s analysis and advice before we make final decisions as a team.

Greater Leadership by the Management Team. In addition to clarifying the role of the management team in making decisions, I also wanted to expand their role in addressing major issues facing the School.   All of us can get bogged down in day-to-day details and it crowds out the time we need to work on more important issues.   We agreed to keep two of our monthly meetings focused on administrative and operational issues, and we also made some changes to make those meetings more effective.  We will reserve our third meeting each month to identify and work on big-picture issues facing the School—issues that could make a greater difference in our effectiveness.  This is a talented group and I want them working on our most important issues.

I realize that these details may not sound particularly exciting, but I believe we left the retreat a stronger team.  One other thing was clear.  The management team is committed to managing the School in ways that facilitate your work.  How can we make your work easier?  For example, one thing we will explore is how we can help to implement the School’s strategic planning priorities and reduce the burden on everyone else.   Our goal is to continue improving the management of the School, and I encourage you to share your thoughts about how we might do it better.  We want to hear from you.

4 thoughts on “Management Team Retreat

  1. Mike – I think it would be good to regularly (monthly or at least quarterly) share with all SOG folks more about:
    “the third meeting each month to identify and work on big-picture issues facing the School.”
    Per transparency and innovation, good to seek appropriate input and new thinking on things that are important and could affect large segments of the SOG’s work.

  2. My one fear with the budget cuts is the tendency to stop all ‘new’ things. I think it is vital to keep on track with our strategic plan and our ability to take advantage of opportunities. But this means hard choices sooner rather than later…or creative thinking on how to do more with less. I’m glad to have both the management team and the DAC wrestle with these.

    I also applaud the inclusion of marketing and communication to the Management Team. Good work that goes unnoticed is a waste.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with John’s comments. I would take it a step further and suggest that information also be shared regularly on administrative and operational issues–much as we teach our local government clients to do.

    1. I agree with John’s comments too. My impression is that we share lots of information about administrative and operational issues, at least that’s what I am told by folks who have come to the School from other campus units. I consistently hear that we are sharing much more about budget issues, for example. I am curious if you have specific things in mind that you want to know about.

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