|We are being bombarded by
tumultuous forces for change as we enter the next decade: Virtual classrooms, global
communications, global economies, telecourses, distance learning, corporate classrooms,
increased competition among social agencies for scarce resources, pressure for
institutional mergers, state-wide program review and so on. In order to plan effectively
in this environment, college leaders must be able to anticipate new developments that will
affect their institutions and curricular programs.
This workshop is designed to assist college leaders to systematically factor the external
environment into the strategic planning process. The specific objectives are to:
- identify potential events that could affect the
future of colleges and universities
- derive implications and recommend actions vis-à-vis
these potential events
Please read the following articles that help provide the context for our deliberations
(Note: On the Horizon articles are reproduced here with the
permission of Jossey-Bass Publishers.)
- Snyder, D. P. "High Tech and Higher
Education: A Wave of Creative Destruction is Rolling Toward the Halls of Academe."
On the Horizon, 1996, 4(5), 1, 3-7.
- O'Banion, T. "Schooling is
Out--Learning is In." On the Horizon, 1996, 3(5),
- Morrison, J. L. "Anticipating the Future."
On the Horizon, 1996, 4(3), 2-3.
- Morrison, J. L. "Transforming
Educational Organizations." On the Horizon, 1997, 5(1), 2-3.
- Boggs, G. R. "Focus on Learning."
On the Horizon, 1998, 6(1), 1, 5-6.
- Norris, D. M. "Perpetual Learning as a
Revolutionary Creation." On the Horizon, 1996, 4(6), 1, 3-6.
We will begin the workshop with observations on how
we can anticipate the future, which serves as an introduction to linking potential
external developments to internal decision-making. External analysis is a major step in a
strategic management/planning process. For more information about this process, read
"Strategic Management in the Context of
Global Change" (Morrison & Wilson, 1996) and "Analyzing Environments and Developing Scenarios for
Uncertain Times" (Morrison & Wilson, 1997).
We only have three hours for this workshop.
However, this is sufficient time for you to gain experience in external analysis to the
point that you will be able to replicate the workshop on your campus.
||Anticipating the Future
|10:00 - 10:15
||Break (move into small groups)
|10:15 - 10:35
||Task 1: Identifying potential events
that would affect the future of colleges and universities
|10:35 - 10:45
||Task 2: Prioritizing events
|10:45 - 11:00
||Task 3: Defining signals of most
|11:00 - 11:15
||Task 4: Deriving implications of most
|11:15 - 11:30
||Task 5: Formulate recommended actions
for college and university leaders to consider now
|11:30 - 12:00
||Reportbacks and Wrap-up
Potential Events That Can Change the Future of
Colleges and Universities
Events are unambiguous and confirmable. When they occur, the future is different. External
event identification and analysis is critical in planning.
It is important that an event statement be unambiguous; otherwise, it is not helpful in
the planning process because (a) it is unclear what may be meant by the statement (i.e.,
different people may understand the statement differently) and (b) we have no clear target
that allows us to derive implications and action steps. For example, consider the
following event statement: There will be significant changes in political, social, and
economic systems in the U.S. Each person on a planning team may agree with this statement,
but may also interpret it differently. It would be far more useful in analysis for a
statement like: "In the next election, the political right gains control of
Congress." Or "Minorities become the majority in 10 states" Or "The
European Community incorporates Eastern Europe in a free trade zone." The latter
statements are concrete, unambiguous, and signal significant change that could impact
We will conduct this exercise in small groups using the Nominal
Task 1 (35 minutes). The first task is to
identify those potential external events in the social, technological, economic,
environmental, and political sectors, local through global, that would change the
future of the institution if they occurred.
Task 2 (10 minutes). When I call time, you
will prioritize the events by using paste-on dots. Vote for five of the most critical events
that affect colleges and universities that have some probability of
occurrence within the next decade.
- Do not be concerned about the event being high or
low probability; be concerned only about the severity of the impact (positive or
- Do not put more than one dot on one event statement.
- Put all dots by the beginning of the event statement
(so that we can quickly see the frequency distribution of dots)
Task 3 (15 minutes). The next part of
the exercise is to identify the signals that your top event (as indicated by the frequency
distribution of votes) could occur.
Task 4 (15 minutes). When you have done this, derive the implications of that event
for the college. In other words, assume that this event occurs. What would happen to your
area of planning responsibility in the college (e.g., what would happen to student
services) as a result of its occurrence?
Task 5 (15 minutes). The final task is to develop recommendations as to what
institutional leaders should consider doing now in anticipation of this event occurring.
Again, do not be concerned about the probability of occurrence of the event. Let's see
what recommendations you invent, and then examine the recommendations to see if they make
sense to implement regardless of whether the event occurs or not. One outcome of this
exercise is the creation of plans that we could not have conceived without going through
the process, but, when we examine the plans, make sense to begin implementing now.
Reportbacks and Wrap-up
We have about 20 minutes for reportbacks. Each group reporter will report the three most
critical events his/her group identified, the signals that support the occurrence of the
top event, the implications of the event for higher education, and recommendations as to
what institutional leaders should do now. We will use the remaining 10 minutes of the
workshop to address what questions you have.