What I am proposing is this: that we need to be intentional – in building institutional capacity and in responding to changes in our environment. And that every four to six months we identify two to four strategic action items that help accomplish this. Yes, there will always be the routine work that may well take up the majority of our time each day and each week – simply “taking care of business.” But, we need to always find time, each week, to tend to expanding growth of our institutional capacity. Here is the thought here:
That a key action item is strategic: meaning, of course, that we can make the case that if and as this happens, the organization will be more effective. We are able to make the case that the investment of our time and energy on this score will enhance institutional capacity.
Further, the genius of a strategic action item is that it is measurable. We need to be able get beyond good intentions and be able to say that this is what needs to happen within the next 4-6 months and this will be the indicators that this has happened.
And we will be accountable: that is, we work with our direct report, the person or office to which we are accountable and agree: that this is what we will do and this will be the evidence that it has happened. So, I meet with those who report to me and we agree together on what is on their list of initiatives and priorities for expanding strategic capacity. We together ask: what needs to happen within your sphere of responsibilities that will be helpful to the whole organization? And what are the indicators that this will have been accomplished.
Here are some ideas – perhaps categories or samples of what I mean, ways to think about this:
Do we need to do a rethink and reframing of our relationship with a key demographic – that might expand our missional capacity [thus, for example, in my world we are looking at a key expansion of our connection with institutional students].
Do we need to do a noteworthy investment in a capital upgrade: expand the facility, renovate the facility, or, another example from my world, implement a major upgrade to our on-line capacity [which included a major fund-raising initiative].
Do we need to schedule and plan and implement a significant orientation or education event for . . . .well, perhaps, a board retreat because we have a number of new board members.
Do we need to re-frame and re-envision a key partnership or affiliation – a partnership or joint venture with a peer institution or a agency wherein that partnership will expand our institutional capacity.
And then, whatever the cycle works best with us – in my case every six months – we do it again: we step back and go for an extended walk and talk with our direct report and identify the two or three or four key action items that will shape the priorities for the upcoming season of the work to which we are called.