An institutional self-assessment for developing a college or university strategic plan would have to include a measure of institutional autonomy, a common as well as unique offering of courses so as to make the university both competitive among others in the marketplace and differentiatedâ€”which allows an organization to stand out and define itself (Trout & Rivkin, 2006); it would have to include a measure of the universityâ€™s commitment to excellence as well plus the freedom to pursue the goals it sees fit for its students and staff.
Leaders could incorporate Alexanderâ€™s four characteristics by first developing a mission statement in which the key components of the four characteristics are included as guiding principles and values to ensure that the university always has this clear, concrete and public mission statement to serve as a visible guide and measure of success. Leaders could also turn to an external facilitator to assist in the self-assessment process. As Conservation Gateway (2018) points out, â€œit is most effective to use an external facilitator the first time the Self-Assessment is implementedâ€ because the external facilitator can help to design â€œthe most appropriate self-assessment processâ€ for the universityâ€™s particular aims and intentions. The external facilitator helps to promote the objectives of the university by focusing on future development options as well as by â€œproviding contextual information on specific indicators in the tool, facilitating the exercise itself, documenting the assessment process, and assisting the organization to identify the best approaches for meeting its improvement targets in the form of an action planâ€ (Conservation Gateway, 2018). With the help of a facilitator, a university can reduce the risk of partisanship, confirmation bias, and stagnation.
History and politics may influence a leaderâ€™s planning in the sense that todayâ€™s leaders are always being compared to previous leaders. Presidents are compared to former presidents, current times are compared to past times, and oneâ€™s effectiveness is judged not by the given situation but by whether or not the organization reached levels of success attained by previous leaders. It may not be fair, but that is the nature of human behavior in societyâ€”and leaders feel the pressure not only to succeed but also to outperform their predecessors, or at least to not deviate in any way from what their predecessors have done. However, when leaders who should be focusing on innovative solutions fall into the status quo psychological trap (Hammond, Keeney & Raiffa, 1998). This trap occurs when a leader simply wants to maintain the status quo even though what is needed for the organization is a new set of directives in order to address issues that are new and call for a unique approach. Politics influences a leaderâ€™s planning because leaders do not work in isolation or in a bubble but are part of a much wider community, including business stakeholders, financial stakeholders, political stakeholders, and international stakeholders. The politics of business, of finance, and of society (both locally and globally) will impact a leaderâ€™s decision making process as the strategy that is implemented under the leader will have an effect on other stakeholders, who will press the leader to take up a strategy that will be favorable towards them.
The accreditation process is essential in ensuring that measures of quality and accountability are there to support the strategic plan. The elements of accreditation include, internal review, external review, and reporting. For a leader in a university, accreditation is needed to ensure that the college is operating at standards that befit its calling. For example, in todayâ€™s world, many students want access to courses through online platforms. Distance learning and online education open up numerous possibilities for students who cannot attend classes in a traditional format. However, without accreditation standards in place, a leader will be hard pressed to show that what is being offered at his university is worth being pursued by students and faculty. That is why accreditation, especially for online schools is so important. Still, there are challenges for accrediting online schools tooâ€”such as making sure the standards of education are possible to be met via the online learning community. Yet, even with issues of accreditation of online learning programs, challenges can be overcome as program providers and the leaders of educational institutions work with accrediting agencies, as has already been by many colleges and universities in the past. Colleges and universities are well aware of the demand for distance learning and online education and leaders have to be attentive to these needs. Todayâ€™s learners want differentiation and this is one area of education that is in great demand around the nationâ€”therefore, finding the right colleges whose programs are certified and whose accreditation is in good standing is not a difficult task and a leader should strive to be a university that offers such options to students.
Accountability via internal review, external review and reporting can help a leader in a university conduct better oversight and control of the learning environment and ensure that all the protocols, steps and requirements are being taken and being enforced for optimum quality (ASPA, 2018). These three elements of accreditation can help to give the leader the legitimacy needed to guide a university towards its strategic goals and supply it with the principles and values that promote education and a supportive environment for all stakeholders.
The role of the leader and stakeholders in developing a comprehensive learning plan that includes the global development of learners in course and degree development as well as in the larger element of student life is substantial. The comprehensive learning plan has to pay attention to the immediate as well as global needs of learners, from the classroom to everyday student life. Leaders and stakeholders are meant to possess the vision, capabilities, communication skills, and the authority to act and implement the right steps for brining a vision to fruition. Leaders and stakeholders also have to represent that ideals that they wish to facilitate and bring about in the university.
Learners meanwhile need supportive environments that can help them to attain their educational goals. Educators rely on leaders in the university for support in providing students with an appropriate and effective learning plan, and the learning plan should reflect the student-centered approach that is most helpful in making the education process all about the learner. Feedback from students should be encouraged and feedback from teachers can also be helpful in developing the learning plan.
In terms of the global development of learners in course and degree development, the learning plan should address macro as well as micro concerns (from concepts in the classroom to study methods for students to job opportunities beyond the college campus and chances for students to get into co-ops with businesses). Learners depend upon the universities for their head start in the real world, and the more open doors and connections that leaders and stakeholders can give to students, the better their odds of networking with success will be. Stakeholders of all stripes, from community members to professors to business leaders and administrators all share in the responsibility of creating an excellent learning plan for the next generation.
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