|Abstract or Summary
- The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of participants involved
in one community college's strategic planning process in which faculty, administrators, and
staff at all levels of the organization were encouraged to participate. Data were collected
through direct observation, focus group interviews, analysis of institutional documents, and
a pen and paper questionnaire. Data were analyzed through a constant comparative method.
Reduction of the data produced themes exploring the reaction of participants to the new
strategic planning process.
This qualitative study generated four hypotheses that relate to these research
1. Staff participation in an organization's strategic planning process results in
a deeper staff understanding of the organization's mission, a higher staff commitment to the
organization's goals, and a demonstration of greater staff energy and vitality.
2. Community college departments will interpret and implement institutional
strategic planning processes in ways that are unique and congruent with their academic
discipline; a single process cannot be successfully dictated.
3. When managers serve as facilitators or use others to facilitate strategic
planning processes, staff will self-organize, a process will emerge, and leadership will take
a variety of forms.
4. Community college staff who encounter change in strategic planning
processes can be categorized as Guarded Optimists, Curmudgeons, Crusaders, or Along for
the Ride, based on levels of frustration and optimism.
Recommendations for Practice:
1. Obtain acceptance of terminology from all units before beginning the
participatory strategic planning process. Use acceptable terms in form/templates and in
2. Do not dictate a single process for strategic planning across all disciplines.
Design forms and processes that are adaptable to differences in styles of critical thinking.
3. Use facilitators to assist units in the participatory strategic planning effort.
Train the facilitators to work in ways that empower participants.
4. Reduce participant frustration and increase optimism by providing
sufficient time, creating sustainable feedback loops, both of which demonstrate that the unit
manager has thought through the process.
5. Increase participation in strategic planning processes to gain deeper
understanding of the organization's mission, higher commitments to organizational goals,
and a demonstration of greater energy and vitality.