Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

On the Horizon of Change

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

On the Horizon of Change

Article excerpt

In one of my favorite books, Their Eyes Were Watching God, author Zora Neale Hurston uses the metaphor of the horizon in introducing her readers to her story and her storyteller, Janie, whose life was a quest to go to the horizon and back. As a child Janie could only look to the horizon she saw from her beloved pear tree, but her world opened up as she left home to "find out about livin'."

A common business metaphor currently invokes horizon thinking, which involves imagining a desirable future and then developing strategies to achieve it. The process depends on input about what the future should look like, gathered from various constituencies or stakeholders.

At the strategic planning retreat that board members, committee chairs and senior staff participated in last October, we engaged in horizon thinking under the facilitation of Patrick Sanaghan, author of Collaborative Strategic Planning in Higher Education (NACUBO, 2009). Using a model he calls the future timeline, the group produced an amazing number of innovative and creative ideas--the huge pile of poster-sized wall charts we carried back to headquarters amounted to 20 pages of data when typed up!

To make sense of all that data and the process that produced it has required a means of sorting, ordering and prioritizing. In the end, the primary themes that emerged had to do with

* Identity, specifically a strong desire for Phi Kappa Phi to become a more prominent voice in the national conversation on higher education.

* Members, not only to increase the number of students who accept the invitation to join and to retain them after their first year, but also to better engage our alumni membership (that's all of you!).

* Chapters, to pursue a goal of helping all chapters become healthy while developing a strategy of targeted growth of new chapters.

* Resources, to tie the budget to mission and vision.

I have a bumper sticker in my office that reads everythingconnectstoeverything, and indeed, I see a strong interrelatedness among the themes that emerged from the planning retreat. They present us, not only board and staff, but members everywhere, with an exciting challenge that could lead to a transformative moment in Society history. The horizon looks very different than it has.

So what's next? A follow-up strategic planning task force met in February and presented its suggestions to the board at its March meeting. …

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