Building One UND ‘dream teams’
Draft day has Strategic Plan goal captains discussing power picks for strong implementation groups
The faint smell of dry erase marker hung in Twamley Hall 305 on June 1, the result of colorful lists of names jotted on seven large sheets of paper across the room.
Between these lists, one-on-one discussions of the skills, availability and passion of the people on the rosters.
This was draft day.
UND Strategic Plan goal captains and college and support unit representatives joined UND President Mark Kennedy to choose implementation teams—a team for every one of the plan’s seven goals. Implementation Lead Angelique Foster likened the energy to a football draft, but one in which the quarterbacks have already been chosen.
“Our goal captains are our quarterbacks,” Foster explained. “We’re giving the task to our quarterbacks to go out there and build a team that’s going to execute, that’s going to run the game, score the touchdowns, and play the kickoffs as well.”
Foster, associate executive assistant to the UND president, is heading the process of assembling the implementation teams. As a self-proclaimed “carrier,” she will be in charge of helping the teams actuate the ideas presented by President Kennedy, Senior Advisor Laurie Betting and the rest of the President’s Cabinet.
“I’m making sure I’m carrying it to the right person, making sure it’s getting executed, making sure that those people are being contacted and aware of what’s taking place in the process. So I am a carrier—a carrier of information and a carrier of execution,” Foster smiled.
As the goal captains pitched their ideal teams—those who they believe could best support them in tackling the action items of their respective goals—the rest of the room took care to look for overlaps and gaps in those choices. This was an opportunity to provide comment, make suggestions or recognize that an individual is already tied up with other priority projects.
Before asking any proposed implementation team member to take on the challenge, captains were encouraged to discuss their choices with deans and division heads.
Each captain can choose the size of their team and the number of committees created within the team, but Foster says the size and make-up of groups will change to meet different needs as tasks and goals shift over time.
“We’re just asking people to remain as flexible as possible, to remain as open-minded as possible, to continue along in this journey and realize that we may have to shrink and we may have to grow, and that’s okay,” Foster said.
UND Senior Vice Provost and Goal One (provide strong liberal arts foundation) Captain Debbie Storrs said her team members will carry a commitment to the liberal arts, bring significant experience surrounding the goal’s action items, and have good relationships across campus.
“I wanted to make sure we had a representation across University areas. And I think I’ve accomplished that with the potential ‘dream team’. That’s what I’m calling it,” she added with a laugh.
Value of disruptors
UND Provost and Goal Six (meet educational needs of veterans and their families) Captain Tom DiLorenzo expressed that he and his fellow captains should look to those who aren’t tied to the way things have always been done.
“This is exciting. It’s new. It’s moving forward. It’s taking us in a new direction—we want the people who can see it that way,” he told the rest of the group.
Betting said she appreciated the consistent nudging of the discussion group to incorporate “disruptors” into teams—people who would bring new perspectives to a team’s way of thinking. Foster agreed, saying the idea comes back to not always employing the same movers-and-shakers for committees of this kind.
“There are people on campus that have that light…that will give us new ideas and be innovative to the process as well,” Foster said. “We just haven’t tapped those people yet, because we don’t know who they are.”
Foster added, if the same people are continually called upon for service, they will eventually burn out.
“I have to commend all of the captains and everyone in the room—everyone spoke up about how they wanted to be respectful of that as well. I think it’s admirable and I think it’s smart,” she said. “We want to be aware of time but we also want to be aware of reaching out to new people as well.”
All seven proposed implementation teams were discussed, revised and submitted to Foster for a final group review.
This week, goal captains are reaching out to their picks to request their service to the Strategic Plan. But Foster said that even if an individual isn’t initially selected, captains will be looking to their benches—and everyone on campus will be involved in some way.
“Some goal captains may have subcommittees, and people can jump aboard that way,” she said. “And I’m sure they’re going to be reaching out to tap different sources. Just because you’re not on the original implementation team, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be a part of the process.”
Goal captains will report progress on a monthly basis.
Betting says that if everyone stays on course, the campus will recognize that the Strategic Plan has the ability to really impact UND.
Pulling a miniature Strategic Plan card from her pocket, she continued: “Some might say, ‘Gosh, seven goals—it fits on the equivalent of an oversized business card. What are you going to be able to do with that?’ The answer is transform this campus and transform higher education in North Dakota.”