The expert advice to answer your most pressing questions. This month, Jeremy Battjes, Ed.D., the assistant dean for Administration and director of University Recreation at the University of Arkansas, shares advice on strategic planning.
Jeremy Battjes: Our strategic plan is intentionally simple. Our plan is to empower students for success through recreation and wellness. This directly aligns with our mission so that units within UREC can adapt their programs appropriately and timely. Annually, each team within UREC creates Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). The OKRs are developed in a way that points back to the campus guiding priorities and divisional priorities.
JB: There is an abundance of change on our campus and we need to be able to respond in a timely manner. Campus leadership, movement of UREC to a new division and the divisional leadership priorities are all evolving. In order to respond and align with the campus and division, we needed a methodology that allowed for adaptability and flexibility. It was also important to me that we actually use our plan and revisit progress throughout the year. Two years ago, we moved to an annual method of developing OKRs. Developing OKRs on an annual basis provides our units the flexibility they need to respond to divisional charges and priorities. Units can also continue objectives from one year to the next, or modify as necessary.
JB: The OKR process has allowed our team to set realistic markers, as well as provide stretch goals through the key results that lead to the work of the object. Quarterly, department leadership meets with each unit to review progress. Units complete a progress report that identifies where progress is made and where challenges exist. During this meeting, leadership talks strategy and modification to hold units accountable, and develop solutions and action plans to meet the units’ objectives. The quarterly meetings prohibit the OKRs from Report On The Shelf (ROTS) — a.k.a becoming a report that isn’t used, has no value or is pulled out only at the end of the year when it may need to be reported on.
JB: Understand the campus and divisional priorities, be prepared to be flexible, hold yourself accountable and develop a document that will actually be read. Don’t allow the plans to ROTS. Keep the departmental priorities simple and applicable to all, allowing the units to effectively plan.