Century College is looking forward to continue its mission to inspire, prepare, and empower students to succeed in a changing world, as well as serving the northeast metro area with a variety of high quality transfer, career and technical programs and other educational services. In order to sustain our mission, we need to be prepared for and respond to changes occurring around us. To do that, we are in the process of creating a new strategic plan for the next five years. The purpose of this process is to develop a new Strategic Plan for 2020-2025. The College will be using Patrick Sanaghan's Collaborative Strategic Planning as a framework for this process.

What is Collaborative Strategic Planning?

At the heart of collaborative planning is the meaningful engagement of stakeholders throughout the institution. Engagement means face-to-face interaction, discussion, and dialogue. Face-to-face dialogue is our preferred method of engagement, but we will also be distributing surveys for collecting information.

Highlights of Collaborative Strategic Planning

  • A highly engaging process.
  • Both inclusive in nature and efficient in execution.
  • A phased process of strategic planning (plus implementation).
  • Designed to create commitment for the implementation of the strategic plan from the very start.
  • A highly credible internal Planning Task Force drives the entire process, which taps into and builds capacity of the institution to think and plan collaboratively in the future.
  • Campus stakeholders feel heard and valued as their meaningful involvement helps create a bright future for the institution.

Timeline and Phases of Century College Process

  • Phase 1: Getting Started (Planning & Getting Organized), March to July 2019
  • Phase 2: Data Gathering (& Engagement), July to October 2019
  • Phase 3: Sense Making (Understanding the Issues), October to December 2019
  • Phase 4: Vision Conference, January 2020
  • Phase 5: Goals Conference, February 2020
  • Develop the Implementation Plan, March to May 2020
  • Share final Strategic Planning Document by the end of the 2019-20 Academic Year
  • IMPLEMENTATION beginning of June 2020

Planning & Getting Organized

In 2018, the College Planning Committee recognized that the current College strategic plan would end in 2020, so agreed that the College needed to begin the process for developing its next plan. The Committee wanted to develop a process that was different than the last one -- one that engaged all stakeholders in the plan development. 

The Planning Committee (through a Committee work group) began to research various planning frameworks and processes to find a process that would work for Century College. The Committee decided to engage with a third party to help us get a new perspective and shore up a stronger approach to strategic planning. The Planning Committee recommended to the President to hire a consultant to help with the next strategic plan.

Pat Sanaghan, the consultant/facilitator selected, has worked with dozens of colleges and universities throughout the country, including several Minnesota State colleges and universities. He comes highly recommended from the Minnesota State college employees who have worked with him in the past. He has a clearly defined process and provides necessary and valuable training for planning task force members, which helps build capacity for strategic planning and strategic thinking throughout the College.

At the heart of the Pat Sanaghan’s Collaborative Strategic Planning Process, is the planning Task Force (PTF), made up of employees from a diverse representation of departments, programs, units and groups. The Planning Task force receives training on how to engage stakeholders and facilitate data gathering sessions to collect critical information for the planning process.

The PTF is led by three co-chairs, one faculty (John Anderl), one staff (Aarin Distad) and one administrator (Pat Opatz). All three were members of the former Planning Committee. 

Data Gathering

The first big Data Gathering event was the College's Opening Days (August 21) where the PTF members engaged College employees in the process and generating important information to inform the creation of the strategic plan.

It continued through the end of October where the PTF reached out to different stakeholders inside and outside of the the college to gather layers of information that will help the college set up a worthwhile strategic plan.

The PTF facilitated over 64 sessions that included stakeholder groups like students, faculty, staff, as well as, alumni, former/retired employees, government and community leaders, and industry partners. Over 750 participants contriubted to this process. They were all invited to provide input into our strategic planning process. For those who could not participate in person, we provided a survey (13 surveys across different groups). It was a goal to give a large number of people from different levels of  College particiaption various opportunities to contribute to our understanding of Century College and what we need to to know as we advance into the future.

Sense Making - November 8

In November, the PTF spent an entire day revisiting all of the conversations and comments that our community provided to identify the five core themes and how they have been prioritized in our community.

From this we were able to have clear picture of the primary themes which were used to construct concept papers that reflect those ideas along with what is happening in higher education. The concept papers distill the information gathered during the data-gathering phase into more manageable chunks so stakeholders can become informed about the issues without being deluged by information. The concept papers, which run approximately five pages, provide historical context for the issues; identify regional, national, and international perspectives about the issues; and describe how campus stakeholders see the issues, based on the data gathering that has taken place. All concept papers are reviewed by task force members before being shared with the community at large via the campus intranet. During the writing of the concept papers, in-depth discussion and debate occur between PTF members. When the final concept papers are produced, the PTF members clearly own the information.

Vision Development Conference - January 10

On January 10, 2020, the PTF and a variety of community stakeholders took part in a highly interactive, one-day meeting.

The attendees were mostly internal stakeholders (all PTF members were invited along with the President and current students) and 17 external stakeholders. The external stakeholders included alumni, community business people, local government, high school leadership and neighborhood leaders. The result of the day long activities was a unique perspective vision of the institution's preffered future.

During the Vision Conference we worked through three distinct elements:

Review of Concept Papers and Discussion. All conference participants had a chance to review the concept papers and glean the essential themes from each one. This helped ensure that all participants were well-informed about the institutional issues before they thought about the future of the institution. Reviewing the concept papers created a shared experience and database for participants and helped set the stage for creating a preferred future.

Stakeholder Review. This involved the different stakeholders attending the Vision Conference (such as faculty, students, business people, and community leaders) organizing themselves and discussing their view of the institution’s future. Based on its unique stakeholder perspective, each group shared four or five key themes with the entire group. Sharing the different perspectives expanded participants’ thinking, created the opportunity to understand what is important to others, and developed a deeper pool of ideas.

Creating a Preferred Future. The conference culminated with an exercise to create shared pictures of the future. Participants worked in small, diverse groups and envisioned the future based on a five-year horizon. If diversity is a strategic theme, for example, participants would describe what diversity looks like on campus five years from now.

Post Conference: The PTF used these elements to draft a vision statement for review by the institution. There will be internal stakeholder review and refinement of the rough draft visoin statement leading up to the Goals Conference in February.

Goal Development Conference - February 21

Approximately one month after the Vision Conference, the Planning Task Force convenes for one to two days to create a broad implementation plan for the institution. At this time, other stakeholders outside of the PTF are invited to lend their expertise and energy to creating the goals. Often, these are the people who will be charged with implementing the strategic plan.

Participants use the new vision statement to create a set of goals for each strategic theme (such as diversity, academic excellence, and research). After agreeing upon the strategic goals, participants create action plans for each one. Feedback processes built into the conference ensure that all participants share their advice and ideas when creating the action plans.

The draft action plan usually goes to the president’s cabinet for discussion and review. It usually takes another four to six weeks to produce a detailed implementation plan.

If you have any questions regarding strategic planning process, please email the Planning Task Force co-chairs.