Highlands College followed a rigorous and inclusive approach to develop its Strategic Plan. Probity Business Group facilitated the process, as they have previously done for clients like Auburn University and Golden Key International. The strategic planning project was launched with the following charter:
To document, refine, and articulate Highlands College’s Strategic Plan in a way that is both inclusive (of various stakeholders) and rigorous so that the College can most effectively and efficiently supply the Church with leaders of character and competence to fulfill the Great Commission.
The six-month process consisted of three overlapping phases:
- PHASE 1: Situation Analysis (April – June 2020). The Situation Analysis is an in-depth assessment of Highlands College that provided a well-researched, fact-driven foundation for development of Highlands College’s Strategic Plan. Highlands College was assessed against a number of dimensions. Four methods were used in the Situation Analysis, including:
- Interviews. A total of 14 in-depth (90+ minutes) interviews were conducted with the entire Highlands College leadership team, key donors, and several Board Members.
- Listening Sessions were conducted with six Highlands College stakeholder groups, including parents, alumni, pastor-employers, Board Members, faculty and staff, and current students. A total of 36 stakeholders participated in the listening sessions.
- Document Review. Highlands College provided 186 documents that were reviewed for content relevant to 1) assessing Highlands College and 2) writing the Strategic Plan.
- Secondary Research was conducted in selected areas. This included collecting strategic plans of 20 peer and aspirant colleges.
Results of these methods were synthesized into findings and conclusions that were incorporated into a Situation Analysis describing Highlands College’s current situation, including areas for improvement.
- PHASE 2: Development of Mission, Vision, Goals, and Themes (June – August 2020). A stakeholder team was formed that consisted of the Highlands College senior leadership team, a Board Member, a key donor, an alum, and a pastor-employer. Using the Situation Analysis as a reference, the team was led through a series of exercises and workshops to develop the mission, vision, goals, and themes, which provided the framework/outline for the Strategic Plan. The team also provided input on the sub-goals and actions required to support and implement the goals of the Strategic Plan.
- PHASE 3: Strategic Plan Development (August – September 2020). Using the mission, vision, goals, themes, and other input, drafts of the Strategic Plan, edited by Mr. Becker, were reviewed and revised by the stakeholder team and Board of Directors until consensus was achieved. The Board approved the Strategic Plan at its September 2020 Board meeting.
APCO Worldwide, an advisory and advocacy communications consultancy that partners with organizations like the United Nations, is now helping us with the implementation of the Strategic Plan.