Gurowitz, Ttochim, Kramer


William D. GUIowitz, Ph.D, William M.K. Ttochim, and Howard


Kramer .

A Process for Planning
The authors describe a long-range planning process undertaken at Cornell University.

The three activities of diagnosis, formulation, and execution can be combined with the two frames, strategic and organizational, to form a 2 by 3 matrix that provides a systems view for describing and evaluating long-range planning (see Figure 1 below). Activities Strategic Diagnosis Formulation Execution # 1 need for change #2 options/ alternatives #3 action plan Organizational Perspective Organizational #4 current status

#5 identify resistance #6 reduce resistance

INTRODUCTION Although there is much talk these days about planning, and many are involved in planning processes, results often lead to frustration and neglect of the plans developed. Too often planning is done under pressure-of devising a budget, or of formulating a long-range plan demanded by some higher authority for an accreditation visit, a state goveming board, or whatever. Those who wish to initiate change through planning must decide on their priorities, plan for contingencies, and make use of a vast body of knowledge. To move an organization, the planner must first define the parts, understand their interactions, and explain the processes through which they are integrated [Hoberstroh, 1965). A long-range planning process that avoids undue pressure and proceeds in a deliberate, thoughtful manner was devised for the Division of Campus Life (DCL) at Cornell University. (The Division of Campus Life encompasses many of the out-of-classroom activities on campus and involves students as the principle clientele, as well as faculty and staff.) This article describes how the Division went about such planning and the results of its effort. UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS Before describing the DCL planning effort, it is helpful to conceptualize the process of change it represents. According to Herman-Taylor (1985), planning is comprised of three activities: diagnosis, formulation, and execution. The dividing line between these phases is blurred, of course, and there is considerable overlap between them. An additional distinction can be made between the strategic frame and the organizational frame in which change is considered. The strategic frame is concerned with the question, "What should the organization do!" whereas the organizational frame focuses on the question, "What can the organization do!"
William D. Gurowitz, Ph.D, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. William M.K. Trochim, Associate Professor, Department of Human Service Studies, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. Howard C. Kramer, Director-Research and Planning, Division of Campus Life, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Figure 1 Systems View of Planning The following section describes the Division's planning effort as it pertains to each of the six cells in the matrix. The first cell, strategic-diagnosis, focuses on determining the need for change. Requirements and activities in this sector are of particular difficulty for planning group members because statements of need require explicit decisions or conclusions and are usually premised on inadequate information. Another reason for difficulty in this area is that ineffective or inefficient performance must be acknowledged before statements of need can be articulated. The second cell, strategic-formulation, contains activities designed to identify options or altematives for change. Here planners must rely on their creative resources to identify program-applicable possibilities. Cell three, strategicexecution, is reserved for activities that translate ideas and plans into a concrete action program for implementation. In this sector, planners have to make their creative ideas operational. The organizational frame concems what the organization can do. Cell number four, organizational-diagnosis, deals with identifying the cause-and-effect relationships in the organization's behavior. Here planners are called on to account for, or describe, the current status of organizational structure or functions. The fifth cell, organizational-formulation, describes processes for identifying organization resistance or blockage to change recommendations. Specifically, planners need to determine what persons, agencies, or functions would work against adoption of probable recommendations. Finally, the sixth cell, organizational-execution, is reserved for those activities related to the implementation of change, including efforts designed to overcome or reduce the strength of blockages to such change. Planning for the Division moved sequentially from the strategic to the organizational frame for each of the three aspects of diagnosis, formulation, and execution. In other words, the DCL planning process enabled participants to alternate between activities concemed with strategic plan-making and activities devoted to testing the reality or workability of the ideas generated for implementation. In relation to the matrix, the sequence of planning activity began with cell #1, proceeded to #4, then on to #2, #5, #3, and finally to #6.

Division. Participants held an early view that planning is a finite effort. and University. redefining their interaction patterns. According to Norman (1985). but external. Kramer 22 A second theoretical perspective might be useful in conceptualizing the process reported here. the major recommendation put forth by the Division planning committee had to do with structural change for the organization. From my view. In fact. both inside and outside the Division. Early Division activities. and changing career paths. focuses attention on qualitatively changing aspects of the entire system. 9. the emergence of strategy via various mechanisms. 5. values. and priorities. the major issues revolved around questions of identity such as: Is the Division of Campus Life more than just the sum of its different departments? How can the departments preserve their autonomy withir a Divisional perspective? What should the Divisional long-range view be and hov is that complementary to. The structure of an organization influences learning and. Staff development. every organization is characterized by a "battle of ideas. (b) analytical language or cognitive frame of reference. or in conflict with. A major consequence of this planning exercise was that departmental staff and directors began to conceptualize and understand the long-term implications of strategic planning. 2. The sequence of steps in this planning process were designed to aid departmental planning staff and. 6. changes in populations. influencing their images of reality. How well those needs are currently being met. they also gave planners a means of thinking about a department's functions and of comparing one department's function with others. Planning that leads to a change in strategy. and changes ill needs for next six years. . organization characteristics. 8. provided not only a language for conceptualizing the Division's intent. and organizational and departmental need. Plans and programs projected. but of greater interest is the ability to conceptualize and arrange data in categories that yield innovative interpretations (p. For the Division. 7. 4. Creating a structural mechanism for dealing with change. a time-limited involvement.228 NASPA JOURNAL Gurowitz. . that leads to the production of a specific planning document. which is actually an exercise in organizational learning. analytical language skills. an activity that concerns itself with systematic and continual assessments of the match between environmental conditions. Mission and goals of departments currently in effect. is valuable because it helps persons in their search for valid information and in their attempts to make free and informed choices. Norman (1985) mentions four domains of action skills necessary for organizational learning: (a) interpersonal skills. The second domain. what Norman (1985) calls ecological interfacing. interpersonal skills. Recommendations for change for department.. it became evident that strategic planning is a process. In part. the discussion turned on whether a departmental or a Divisional focus should be the key variable when questions of priority have to be resolved. consultants. According to Norman (1985). had a profound impact on my work and role as a faculty member. The recommendation called for creation of a Divisional strategic planning group that would concern itself with issues of change and development. and (d) ecological positioning. I (Trochim) had the opportunity to help shape the planning effort which.. . particularly those associated with the concept-mapping exercise described later. The structural map of an organization defines much of the world view for its members. according to Norman. access to data is important. in tum. Relationships between departments. the earliest stages of the Division's planning process can be viewed as attempts to assist participants in communicating and receiving information relative to department. Evaluation of each department's organizational structure. is often accompanied by internal politics and changes in the distribution of power. with time frames. consists of the ability to perform creative cognitive analysis of a strategic situation. In either case. the University. I offer here some reflections on the process that emerged and on the effects that were generated. Specifically. later. Discussion focused on definitions of planning and common topics to be addressed by the planning effort. The populations served. members of the Divisional planning committee. Norman (1985) calls the third domain of conditions and action skills needed for learning. channeling their energies. and it is only when there is a sufficiently strong confluence of the cognitive strength of a new logic and sufficient power to back it up that a paradigm shift will take place" (p. to meet the needs of a rapidly changing environment. this referred to questions about the foci of Divisional activity in the University.. 3. although the conscientious enumeration offered here is an idealized reconstruction and not how things necessarily appeared to those who observed its evolution. REFLECTIONS ON THE DCL PLANNING PROCESS As the principal external consultant. departmental wishes and needs? The Planning Process The process unfolded in a series of stages. The Planning Context The goal of the planning process was to develop a long-range Divisional perspective. Finally. The first domain.. what Goldstein (1985) calls an adaptive structure. or University needs. including objectives and current progr~. in order to achieve long-term congruence between espoused theory and theory-in-use within organizations. 226). in considering organizational structure issues as they pertained to the Division. Division. Departmental missions and goals for next six years. a fourth and very powerful condition for learning is the selection of what part of the environment to interact with. . . Later.. Ttochim. The later stages of this planning sequence contained some of the ecological interfacing dilemmas that confront every organization. and needs of those populations. The common topics were: 1. Step 1 Members of each department's planning group met jointly with the . as if it were a learning process.. organizational skills. One might evaluate planning. or a reorientation. Let us tum our attention now to a description of the planning process as viewed by an involved. Argyris and Schon (1978) stress the need for making visible and testable basic assumptions on which action is based. the guiding principle is the same-service to the University-but decisions about what kind of service to what part of the University are difficult to negotiate. (c) organizational skills. in this case the Division. impact. and rationale. consultant. 228).

8. however. and the reports were shared across the Division. sentences) having the highest intercorrelations.230 NASPA JOURNAL Gurow:itz. That is. were asked to review and then name each concept cluster. At times. I wished to use a group conceptualization process and cluster analysis I had developed so I suggested a desirable early step in such an ambitious planning effort be to try to articulate what the Division meant in the minds of key planning participants." After sorting them into piles. Step 3 Conceptualizing the planning process was important to facilitate communication between departments. (c) images of higher education. the relevance of the concept map to department operations. and the final map was difficult for the group to understand and interpret. Step 5 This step involved continuation of the structured conceptualization activity begun in Step 3. Three. The extent to which the map served its intended purpose as a framework for subsequent planning is not clear. 7. Linton. Ttochim. Step 8 Each department completed a report listing the major questions it faced and identifying the existing sources of information available to it. or sentences) were generated across the three mission statement parts by 75 planning staff members. formulation and selection of concrete action plans. A total of 876 concept entities [i. the entities in anyone cluster were listed together more often than they were with entities in other clusters. sorting. arrayed in small task groups. twenty-minute sessions were held. Early discussions of the need for change. Perhaps the most positive effect related more to the process itself than to the . it was important that some mechanism be devised to assist the communication process. spread out over an entire semester. The structured conceptualization began with planning members. 2. It seemed that such data would be useful in exploring the strategic frame question of "What should the organization do?". 11. 10. 4. and management of organization resistance constituted the planning sequence. and service or function performed. before a map was produced. phrases. Because departments differed in size. identification of cause-effect relationships present in the organization. some indicators of positive consequences. and (b) the strength of the intercorrelation of entities within a cluster as depicted by the size or compactness of the cluster. 6. 227). words. Step 4 Step 4 included continued discussion of elements and definitions of planning. and (d) department-related futuristic data. exploration of action alternatives and organizational resistance attached to them. Kramer 231 Step 2 Department planning group members met with University planning executives to review: (a) assumptions about the future. 3. Step 6 Departments completed preliminary reports covering items 1-6 listed in Step I. Finally. Participants received lists of the concept entities grouped according to their cluster and. 5. professional staff. in small task groups. 5. Step 9 Department planning staff met to interpret the results of the analysis described in Step 5. There were. The hierarchical cluster analysis and the names given to the eleven concept clusters were: representatives to 1. and 9.. as well as the organizational frame question of "What can the organization do?" Two major stages took place simultaneously: group conceptualization and departmental reporting. structure. as many as 75 people were involved in reviewing. each person was asked to arbitrarily assign numbers to the piles and to record on a record sheet these numbers and the corresponding concept entities for each pile. and interpreting the concepts. The goal was to develop a group concept map depicting the major ideas people used when regarding the Division. planning staff were given a concept cluster map showing the approximate location of each of the eleven clusters (see Figure 2 on following page). Results This ten-step process enabled Division planners to engage in the activities illustrated in Figure 1 (p. (b) facts about the University. 1986). as described in Steps 3.e. one for each of the three parts. and the implications of the clusters for department planning were the foci of the meeting. phrases. the process was disjointed because it was spread out over 3-4 months. providing reactions to each of three portions of the Divisional mission statement. The conceptualization turned out to be a cumbersome process. Each item was then typed onto small cards and each member of the planning group was asked to sort the 137 cards "in a way that makes sense to you. A complete description of the technique and analysis of these data is available elsewhere (Trochim &. Step 7 Faculty consultants presented a seminar for department discuss various means of data collection. Step 10 At this meeting. The map indicated: (a) the relationships between clusters as depicted by the position of any cluster relative to others. the members were asked to name each pile and to include the name on the record sheet. For many it was a frustrating activity-the meetings were time-consuming. 9. Human development and values Organizational management and planning Health and social programs University community commitment Integration of learning environment Effective dynamic participatory management Facilities and service Governance Demographics Interdepartmental coordination Living learning environments Each of the clusters represented concept entities (words. The process took place in three separate meetings. A final set of 137 concept entities (from the 876 items originally generated) was selected by a small committee. with three departments giving presentations on how they were each proceeding with the planning exercise. Discussion of the concept clusters.

The idea that departments.nluprt f"rnltu 1cnnwledl'f"lI.) CI :E: a manner designed to improve the organization and move it ahead. The Division does not just react to needs for student service. innovative. these two enabled the group to articulate a view of the Division all could support."0 0 CI> U I:: '" CI> E ~0 ~(. was new and exciting. the planning effort shifted to the subcommittee composed of a representative from each of the eleven departments. It was a creative... automation. and categorization. authoritative.. It might be that this is the important lesson from the planning effort: It is not so much what you plan as whether you plan in I:: CI> E CI> 0> '" I:: ::E § :. What had been perceived as pious educational rhetoric in the departmental and Divisional mission statements was transformed into a real part of the historical dialectical discussion in higher education. based on two points: first. In that context. generalist view. the Division was largely concept. most faculty do not perceive that to be the case.. called for construction of a continuing planning committee. a discussion the Division wished to influence.::::. Figure 2 T""Io"T /"11 . Put together. The approach . there seems to be an ongoing dialectic in higher education between a scholarly. The search for a common philosophy for the Division was critical. _ SUMMARY This article describes how the Division of Campus Life at Cornell University went about long-range planning and the results of its effort. the University cannot truly educate if it loses sight of the context of students' lives. __ lK . Ttochim.:::.) ~ > o c II) '2 ~ E II) -= cv c cv = E E (. When planning began. it is hard to say which steps were valuable or useful in relation to others. During the next academic year. Kramer 23: map that was generated. specialization-oriented perspective and one that emphasizes a holistic. For many mid-level staff these meetings were a rare opportunity to engage their peers in other departments. The sense of Divisional identity that emerged from the planning members made it possible for the Division to develop a living continuing planning model. The DCL has an important educational role within the University-to focus the attention of the University community on the need to address students' lives as a whole in order to enhance their education. The group discussed this for several sessions and at some point a very exciting consensus began to emerge. divisive. The final report described the Divisional philosophy that had emerged. Even though the process reported here took almost two years. members of the group felt that while their roles are integral to the educational mission of the University. The self-conscious act of a group of people attending to their own organization probably had more effect on the sense of cohesiveness than any specific action or method.232 NASPA TOURNAL Gurowitz.. planning was likely to be contentious. From the process point of view. All of the departments saw ways in which they could support this notion individually and through interdepartmental efforts. can advocate and help develop a view of education that some parts of the University have apparently lost sight of. The experience of sharing common issues and interests was a surprise to some and an important revelation to others. it emphasizes that in a world of specialization. c:: 0"0 . t:: ~ '" . '" 0> I:: ~ 'c '" '" o :§ I:: CI> I:: 0> CI> ~ "00 I:: E:. Most of the professional staff of the Division (almost 200 people) took part. not reality.. and probably unsuccessful. and second. to many of its members.0. and energizing 1::0. and articulated several of the more salient issues the committee should be charged to address. the staff were enthusiastic and energetic throughout. This group met weekly and engaged in complex discussions. through the Division.. experiential.hle in asnects of nlanninz working with the entire .".

In J. 217-248). calling for what Keller (1983) terms strategic planning-planning guided by a committee and not by a written document called a long-range plan. Chicago: Rand McNally. One of the main purposes of the planning was to get professional staff from all levels. San Francisco: Iossey-Bass. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. March (Ed. with selection determined by the Vice President and department head. A DCL strategic planning committee has been formed at Cornell. How else to keep up with an uncertain future. and its members (one person from each department in the Division) will serve two-year appointments. Associates (Eds. Academic strategy. being named and organized by December I. &. R. Purpose: The committee will address four specific tasks: 1. &.. a. In J. Associates (Eds. What has been the value of the two-year planning effort? As already indicated. with the added task of advising the Division Vice President about long-range issues. but on reflection it is clear that there can be no long-range plan in the form of a living document. Schedule The committee will be initially appointed for one year. New York: Addison-Wesley. (1985). 1985. to look broadly at higher education. Create a divisional marketing strategy. within the Organization 1. Baltimore. (1965). to produce a dog-eared report used over and over by staff looking for guidance in planning. and developing programs? A dilemma indeed. Eventually this could be broadened to a University perspective rather than either a Divisional or departmental perspective. Goldstein. or administrative skills relevant to the work of the committee. (1983). The Vice President and Divisional staff shall be available for meetings with the committee. DCL's intent was to avoid this. The committe has specific tasks as noted in the recommendations.A. Ideally. (1985). But there is a dilemma in trying to produce a living document. The strategic planning committee is the living document. the work of the committee will be reviewed by the Vice President and a determination made as to its future usefulness. 4. Handbook of organizations (pp. After one year. 383-411). Organizational strategy and change (pp.M. Such a document is outdated as soon as it is written. 2. Organizational dualism and quality circles.. Time will tell. MD: Johns Hopkins University. In J. one planned for with more than just intuition? The importance of the concept is measured by its simplicity.J. Hoberstroh. thinking Divisionally. G. 11985). (1978). A high priority was to develop a living document. a document that would be current and heavily used. Norman. C. not departmentally. At first this may seem disappointing. deliberate planning-offering the kind of flexible strategic plan needed to point to a probable future. and with a smaller group in the middle and later phases. The specific result was one page of final recommendations (see Appendix). put on a shelf. and forgotten. Ttochim. Keller. Frequently.). the interest and enthusiasm of Division staff was remarkable. APPENDIX DIVISION OF CAMPUS LIFE LONG-RANGE PLANNING COMMITTEE FINAL RECOMMENDATION The Division should create a Divisional Strategic Planning Group.234 NASPA JOURNAL Cutowitz. 4. 3. Formulate a divisional staff development and training program. Develop a plan for a divisional computerized database to facilitate the planning and evaluation efforts of departments. 3. Kramer 235 professional staff group at first. Organizational design and systems analysis. a broader base of people knowledgeable about the Division and the University. Organizational strategy and change (pp. The chair shall be named by the Vice President. The entire Division staff was kept apprised of progress and results.M. the University. R. process. Linton. planning results in a document that is read. b. and the Division. Finding new ways of overcoming resistance to change. the committee's work will provide continuous. now. Pennings &. It will be a while before the strategic planning committee produces tangible results. S. Academy of Management Review. Members should possess technical. Herman-Taylor.G. The way to keep planning current and alive is to have a group doing planning on a continual basis. Support The Division of Campus Life will provide staff and financial support to assist the committee in its work. w. Members will be nominated by the individual department head. There is also.504-517. 10(3). References Argyris.). D. budgeting. Organization learning. Is it possible. entry to upper management.). Schon. Trochim. Pennings &. They were energized and remain so. C. Evaluation and Program Planning. 289-308. Developing capabilities for organizational learning. Conceptualization for planning and evaluation. Many benefits emanated from the planning process. (1986). 2. . 1171-1211). Members should have mid-level or senior staff positions (which connotes awareness of departmental perspectives and access to departmental personnel). 9. Each department of the Division should be represented. R. then. Doing so might lead people to think Divisionally. Develop specific mechanisms for improving communication Division and across the University.

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