Strategic Foresight Process: An Update

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This post provides an update on implementation of the recommendations that emerged from our strategic foresight process.  I am not going to review every recommendation.  Instead I want to describe how we have addressed some of the major themes that emerged.  You can see all of the recommendations and our progress toward their implementation in the linked document.  (Thanks to Janet Holston for putting it together.)

One reason for this update is because I want people to know that we took the strategic foresight process seriously and that we have been working hard to implement the recommendations.  The recommendations emerged from a faculty-driven process and it is important to honor that process.  I hope you will agree that we have made good progress.

The other related reason for this update is because I want everyone to understand that our planning processes have consequences.  We have focused time and resources on those ideas that emerged as important priorities, and inevitably it means that we have less time and fewer resources for those items that were not considered our top priorities.  This is important context as we design a new strategic management and planning process for the School, which will be the subject of a future blog post.  In the meantime, here is an update on the recommendations from the strategic foresight process.

Rebecca Ryan (Futurist Who Facilitated Strategic Foresight)

Greater Role by Faculty Members in Decisions Affecting the School.  Faculty meetings now focus more on policy issues, partly through the hard work of the newly-created Agenda Committee. In addition, consultation about filling new or existing faculty positions now happens at faculty meetings rather than with the Dean’s Advisory Council (DAC).  We also have created a new faculty Academic Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) to focus primarily on issues surrounding reappointment, promotion, and tenure—including the role of faculty advisory committees.

Increase Faculty Time for Higher-Impact Teaching, Research, and Advising.  One outcome is the new Faculty Development Assignment (FDA) Policy, which was developed, piloted, and implemented by the new APAC.  Faculty members are encouraged to take an FDA annually “to focus on development activities that will increase the breadth and depth of their impact.”  We also have created subject-matter assistants in criminal law, civil law, and local government law to aid faculty members with research and advising work.  In addition, we used a vacant staff position to create a judicial curriculum development specialist to assume higher-level planning and coordination that in many cases had been done by faculty members.

Greater Communication about Everyone’s Work and How it Supports Our Mission as “One School”.  I created a monthly “Faculty Lunches with the Dean” and blogged about them so that faculty and others could learn more about the work of their colleagues.  I will start them again after a short break.  We also do quarterly “Meet and Greet” breakfast sessions for new employees that allow folks to connect informally with their colleagues.  The old FED meeting has been changed to the Information-Sharing Meeting and it focuses more intentionally on helping people see how their work connects to the work of others at the School.

One area that needs attention was the recommendation to create more opportunities for formal, structured interaction among faculty and staff to share how their work advances the School’s mission.  Feedback was very positive about faculty-staff conversations during the strategic foresight process, and we have not done enough to produce greater alignment between faculty and staff in working together as “One School.”  Rather than create a new committee, as originally intended, I have asked the DAC to take the lead in promoting the concept of “One School” and we had a good preliminary discussion at the last DAC meeting.  Michael Vollmer and Linda Weiner in partnership with the division managers have focused on this issue of “One School” in positive ways that will pay dividends, including adding it to the performance review process for our professional staff.

Clarify Administrative Roles and Improve Operational Procedures.  Michael Vollmer and Linda Weiner also have worked closely with the division managers on a number of administrative improvements.  The School’s marketing and publications divisions have been merged into one unit led by Sonja Matanovic.  Our new partnership with UNC Press has been a major project and it will produce many administrative improvements.  Another recommendation was to “review all course and conference needs and ensure that sufficient support is available to provide high-quality, consistent, and full-service event planning and management.”  Diane Juffras and Michael Vollmer are co-chairing a working group that is reviewing course creation, pricing, and program support.  They are scheduled to provide their recommendations by July 1.  Michael Vollmer also has been working through the entrepreneurial initiatives policy with the covered units, and we should be sharing the final policy in the very near future.

Strategic Program Initiatives.  Three programmatic initiatives emerged as priorities from strategic foresight—they are moving forward with new investments from the School.  The Judicial College converted an existing position to hire Elizabeth Watkins Price as a Judicial Curriculum Development Specialist, and the School allocated funding to hire Jonathon Holbrook as Prosecutor Educator to create an innovative online resource for prosecutors.  The Judicial College also conducted an important survey of court officials that is guiding its work.  Peg Carlson was named Director of the new Center for Public Law and Governance and funding was provided to hire Tracy Miles as Deputy Director.  In addition, a new faculty position was created in leadership and governance and we are finishing our recruitment process to fill it.  ncIMPACT has succeeded the Applied Public Policy Initiative and we hired Anita Brown-Graham to develop and lead the initiative.  While we have not created a data center, a major focus of ncIMPACT is helping local governments use data to address complex challenges.  The School also provided funding for ncIMPACT to hire Emily Gangi as its Engagement Director.

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