Strategic Thinking and Strategies for Programs

When approaching the task of completing the template for your program, the obvious approach is to think “My program is great, so it should be enhanced with additional funding from PBAC!” and to write the discussion in the template on this basis.

While I won’t argue with the validity of that assessment, a moment’s contemplation will reveal that, at best, 40% of UAA’s programs will make it into that category. However you divide up the mass of programs, very roughly 20% will be in each category. The AcTF’s overall discretion is 25%, so there is a better than even chance, all else being equal, that your program will not make it into the ‘Priority for Enhancement’ category.

So what can you do about this? Before you start working on the detailed discussion in the template, it may be a good idea to think strategically about all the programs in your department, or equivalent area of interest. They can’t all be in ‘Priority for Enhancement,’ so what would be a reasonable category for each program?

If you have multiple programs, you have to expect that there will be a distribution across the various categories. How would you categorize them, if you had the same constraints as the AcTF?

Many departments have a ‘flagship’ program. This program may be the core effort, and the other programs, such minors and certificates, hang off it. Clearly, any enhancement of the flagship program will have a positive impact on the subsidiary programs, whereas enhancement of a subsidiary program may have little impact on any other program. In this circumstance, the focus should be on the flagship program, while the subsidiary programs might be directed more towards the ‘Maintain’ category.

Other departments may have an initiative that could do with enhancement, such as a new direction for teaching or research. This may be folded into other programs at a later date. In this case, the initiative could be the focus of enhancement efforts, while other programs are maintained.

‘Transform’ is a difficult category. Here the emphasis is very different to ‘enhance.’ ‘Enhance’ is doing more of the same, but better; ‘Transform’ is changing what is being done. Is there a program that really needs the chance to be changed? Given that programs in the ‘Transform’ category should be encouraged to change by the institution as a whole, possibly with some funding support, this may be a good place to direct a program that needs to undergo significant change.

Similarly, programs that would benefit from a significant restructuring of the way they are managed, or their administrative environment, could be targeted for the ‘Transform’ category. A group of programs, or even several departments, could band together to work towards such a restructuring, with many programs in that group being placed in the ‘Transform’ category. ‘Transform’ can mean more than transformation within a program; it can also mean transformation of the program’s larger environment.

These are just a few ideas and thoughts. Prioritization is an opportunity for programs and departments to consider their program priorities, as well as the priority of their programs. The AcTF has tried very hard to make it clear that we are not looking to pick winners and losers in this process, but to guide programs to situations that work best for the programs and the university as a whole. While the AcTF is trying to maintain the institutional perspective, the greatest insight into each program comes from the program’s faculty. The template is the program’s communications vehicle to convey, in part. their strategy for their program. The AcTF will be considering only the information in the template, and will be working to enforce that through its internal rules.

Posted in Completing the Template
22 comments on “Strategic Thinking and Strategies for Programs
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  16. Purva Jain says:

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  21. Sabrez Alam says:

    Hello Bill,

    I have read your post on strategic thinking and strategies for programs. This is a good post to understand, how to make the strategic changes to make the program successful.

    Thanks for the post.

    Sabrez Alam

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AcTF Open Dialogue

This is a community forum for people to share their perceptions and experiences with UAA’s process of prioritizing of academic programs. Members of the AcTF will post to share their experiences of task force deliberations and dialogues with the UAA community. We encourage well-informed and open dialogue about this process. Anyone is welcome to comment on posts. Find more information on UAA's Prioritization Process Website.
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