Turning soil on the Strategic Plan

UND Strategic Plan assembles goal captains, project managers and implementation team members to execute campus strategy

Soaring Eagle Garden

The Strategic Plan was publicly launched on May 5, following months of collaborative meetings, research and evolution. Instead of slowing for the summer, execution begins immediately—with the assembly of an implementation team to keep those goals aligned and on track to make the plan a reality.

When UND’s Laurie Betting isn’t digging up growth opportunities for the campus community, you might find the gardener at home, planting veggies or pulling weeds.

Either way, she likes getting her hands dirty – and she loves the imagery behind the idiom.

“To me, it sounds like you’re turning over fresh soil,” said Betting, who in the months prior to retirement is serving as senior advisor to UND President Mark Kennedy and interim director for the Center for Innovation. “You’re thinking about possibilities, you have your eyes on what the outcome is going to be.”

In this case, Betting is sowing the seeds of the future of for UND. She’s helping lead the team that will make the new One UND Strategic Plan take root.

The Strategic Plan was publicly launched on May 5, following months of collaborative meetings, research and evolution. Instead of slowing for the summer, execution begins immediately—with the assembly of an implementation team that will include captains for every Strategic Plan goal, trained project managers to keep those goals aligned and on track and support members who will generate ideas, further refine action steps and ultimately make the plan a reality.

“We committed from the beginning that this would not be a plan that sits on the shelf,” President Kennedy said. “Striving to achieve the learning, discovery and engagement goals of the plan will require the coordinated effort of faculty, staff and students throughout the University, often in tandem with community efforts.”

Laurie Betting

Laurie Betting (above) will head up the team that will help the new One UND Strategic Plan take root and grow across campus.

Management map

Captains for each of the plan’s goals were chosen last month, and in June, each will be joined by one or two project managers, selected from campus based on their backgrounds and expertise. The project managers will devote 25 percent of their time to the Strategic Plan team (with previous responsibilities either reduced or moved elsewhere) and will go through formal training together to ensure they are working in unison and following best practices.

Frank Swiontek

Frank Swiontek

“The goal captain is really the visionary,” Betting explained. “The project manager ensures that vision by setting the pace, helping with the accountability, helping with the reporting and really being the connection between all of the team members.”

Project managers will meet regularly with their goal captains to monitor and assess the progress of the goal, which the captains will report monthly to the President’s Cabinet. The project management team will also meet weekly as a group to ensure harmony when goal action steps and metrics overlap.

Angelique Foster, executive assistant to the President, will serve as oversight lead for the project management efforts.

This coordination will be made easier with new project management software that can be used to input milestone data provided by UND’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE).

“The best way to think about it is it’s an inventory and a map,” said Interim OIE Director Frank Swiontek. “It’s an inventory of time usage, time allocation, communications and documents associated with the project. Then the map shows a timeline of what’s going on—specific projects, who those projects have as dependencies assigned to them, and how those dependencies will interact or affect other projects.”

Betting said she’s excited to see a solid project management initiative come together in this way, adding that it’s something that hasn’t been done before campus wide.

“Project management in itself is truly is something that can make this sink or swim,” she said. “When you have the ability to take the vision and cast it into templates, communication messages and work plans, where everyone understands where you’re going and why, and sees that forward progress—it’s a whole lot easier to be on a team like that.”

Strat Plan Org Char resized

Implementation support

Goal captains and college deans will convene Thursday (June 1)—what Betting affectionately refers to as “Draft Day”—to choose implementation team members who will support captains and project managers.

“If you’ve ever watched any of the professional sports drafts, you understand there is a lot of excitement about how to choose the right talent,” said Betting, a vocal athletics fan. “We’ll look at the individuals who have stepped forward by either raising their hand or offering other ideas and suggestions about the Strategic Plan.”

Candidates for implementation team will come from campus recommendations and volunteers. Each goal’s team will differ in size and scope, depending on needs. But beyond those roles, the entire Strategic Plan organization will be looking to the campus community to get involved.

“Look at the plan, look at the opportunities, bring your ideas forward through the appropriate mechanism,” Betting said. “I want people to recognize that this is really about how we create this together. Stay engaged. Watch it. Contribute towards it.”

System sync

President Kennedy has been working closely with North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott to ensure that the One UND Strategic Plan aligns with a system-wide vision for higher education—Envision 2030.

At the campus level, Strategic Plan implementation will charge ahead through the summer. The President has asked each college and support unit to consider how they will align with the plan and report those plans by Sept. 1. He has also asked that accountability toward meeting Strategic Plan goals will be worked into position descriptions.

UND Today will continue to communicate Strategic Plan updates, and new information will be posted on the UND website and presented at a campus forum in September.

Until then, Betting is looking forward to turning soil with her teammates this summer—and getting some dirt under her fingernails.

“I have the privilege, sitting in this position, to be able to look at all of the talent and all of the potential, so I have a hard time containing my excitement,” she said. “We have, in many ways, greater clarity than we’ve had for some time.”