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Strategic Horizon Network

The Strategic Horizon Program is an organizational and leader development program unlike any other in American postsecondary education. Coordinated by the Center for Community College Development, it can most easily be described by starting with the concept of a strategic horizon as the most favorable position a college can attain in a regional market through development of strategic capabilities, identification and pursuit of opportunities and delivery of maximum value to students and stakeholders. Colleges participating in the Strategic Horizon Program are seeking to move beyond conventional approaches to management and leadership by committing to new ways of doing business in five areas:

  1. Analysis and creation of opportunity: encouraging strategic thinking throughout the institution as a way of enhancing individual and institutional capacity to identify and pursue new development opportunities within and beyond the service region;
  2. Assessment and reporting of value:
    re-examining how the college determines the value it is currently delivering to students, clients and stakeholders and the value it could potentially deliver given optimal functioning;
  3. Enhancement of strategic management capability: developing and enhancing new capabilities in strategic management including but not limited to: awareness of the difference between strategy and tactics, insight into college culture, knowledge of system and process design and redesign, the strengths and limitations of the organizational structure and modes of decision-making and communication;
  4. Change design and management: increasing individual and institutional capacity to design and successfully execute a plan for change working with constituencies throughout the college; and
  5. Leader development throughout the institution: building strategic capability in faculty and staff so that leadership is a continuous process in every part of the institution
The Strategic Horizon Program provides a framework for improving capacity in these and other areas by enabling colleges to work together to develop needed skills in strategic management. It is coordinated by the Center for Community College Development and carried out with a network of 15 community colleges.
A Design Team, consisting of the President, a designated College Liaison from each Network College and Pat Carter and Dick Alfred, Co-Directors of the Center for Community College Development, shapes the direction of the learning activities of the Strategic Horizon Network and establishes the direction for the Network programs.

How does it work?

Key elements of the Program include continuous assessment to determine institutional capability in strategic management; campus-based activity to improve the strategic capability of faculty, administrators and support staff; visits with high performing organizations inside and outside of education to discover new systems and approaches, and network colloquia to provide skill training programs for institution-wide application. Over the course of each operating year, colleges come together to cross-train one another in newly developed strategic capabilities and to work collaboratively to build learning programs for the purpose of developing strategic leadership capabilities in staff throughout the institution.

The Program involves five interlocking activities:

  1. Assessment of Capability. Each participating college develops a map that displays its current capabilities in specific areas of strategic management. This process is facilitated by the Center for Community College Development using a design developed in consultation with the each college. 
  2. Campus-Based Activity to Build on Management Capability. The results of the capability assessment are used to determine areas of strength as well as areas in which there are opportunities to build strategic capability. Working directly with campus teams, SHP facilitators Pat Carter and Dick Alfred provide tools and techniques to help colleges design and build new capabilities or to redesign current capabilities. Visits are arranged with organizations employing best practices to learn how to design/redesign management capabilities through direct exposure to new and effective techniques and approaches. Colleges collaborate with one another to sharing ideas about design and, when appropriate, co-creating new capabilities in specific areas of strategic management.
  3. Organizational Learning via On-site Visits with High Performing Organizations. Visits are conducted with organizations inside and outside of education identified as employing best practices in areas of strategic management. Network teams engage in site visits with best practice organizations to explore their processes and practices and identify ways to adopt these to their environments.
  4. Network Colloquia to Share and Learn New Capabilities. Colleges come together in semi-annual network colloquia to develop and share information that promotes leadership across the college and builds institutional capacity. Network Colleges provide assistance to one another by sharing their areas of expertise and best practices.  Sharing our Resources catalogues these best practices and provides contact information to encourage colleagues from across Network colleges to communicate on a regular basis.
  5. Development and Implementation of a Learning Program for Building Strategic Management Proficiency throughout the Institution. To build institution-wide proficiency in areas designated as important emerging challenges, Network colleges work collaboratively to develop learning packages that are used to inform colleagues and to train them in strategic competencies. The Network colleges have created modules to deepen knowledge and skills in areas: Strategic Thinking; Communcation; Managing Change; An Introduction to Process Management; and Developing Leaders for the 21st Century. 

Anticipated and Demonstrated Outcomes.

Colleges participating in the Strategic Horizon Program experience the following benefits through activities on campus and through exchange with Network institutions:

  • A custom-crafted plan promoting the development of strategic capability in areas deemed vital to the future of the institution.
  • Competencies developed or accentuated which enable staff to identify and pursue opportunities essential for achievement of institutional, departmental and personal goals.
  • A system for assessment recognized and recommended by the North Central Association as a useful tool for identifying and organizing projects for AQIP consideration.
  • Increased efficiency and economy in developing strategic capabilities of staff through collaboration with colleges working as part of a network to achieve a common goal.
  • Access to state-of-the-art tools, organizational learning, and best practices which can be used to build capability through the assistance of skilled consultants and experts in industry-leading organizations.
  • Institution-wide leader development of staff accomplished through synchronous and asynchronous learning modules developed by a network of institutions.
Questions:  Contact Patricia Carter, Executive Director (pncarter@umich.edu /(734) 439-2134