Alex Usher over at Higher Education Strategy Associates posted in June about Strategic Actors, Strategic Planning, Strategic Hiring. I had some thoughts about it.
Universities function in 10 year blocks of time. A new idea takes 2 years to become a reality, 2 more years to get working as hoped, will function well for the next 6 years, then it will change or stagnate. But governments work in 3-4 year cycles if not faster. It’s hard for them to watch over something that takes 5 years to be successful. Once something is successful it’s boring to the government. Hence Strategic Plans.
Strategic plans (and their strange 5 year cycle) are a way of helping governments and other stakeholders understand what’s going on in and the direction of the Uni, and it gives official moments of redirection for when its needed.
I think that the idea HESA proposes is a good one, that the act of hiring is the way that universities actually act strategically. But I propose that the purpose of the strategic plan is as much governmental relations as it is strategy, and that’s not a bad thing.
Perhaps its instead a better plan to include strategic hiring plans in strategic plans. That will give even more direction and signal more the specific changes expected.