Blue Beyond Consulting

Blue Beyond at the AASCU Academic Affairs Summer Meeting

We were honored to be invited to join our client to present two sessions at the recent Academic Affairs Summer Meeting for the American Association of State Colleagues and Universities (AASCU). This three-day conference in Minneapolis brought together provosts, deans, faculty members and more to focus on prominent academic issues— with a special emphasis on innovation.

Our session, “Partnering to Foster a Culture of Institutional Success and Innovation,” covered highlights from our partnership with Cal State LA during the past six years, including how we leveraged strategic planning as a vehicle to drive change across the campus. Emily Allen, Dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology, and Amy Bippus, Vice Provost for Planning and Budget, also shared the impact they have seen at Cal State LA from our work together, as well as lessons they learned from their partnership with Blue Beyond.

Here are a few key takeaways from our sessions:

  1. Strategic planning isn’t a one-time thing. After the plan, it needs to live on in everything you do and continually be reinforced to make it a reality.
  2. The method is the start of the intervention. From the first minute you engage people in a process, it signals change. It’s not about changing the people; it’s about the people changing the institution.
  3. Strategic planning isn’t about the deliverables; it’s the process that’s important. Getting people to talk about change was the destination. You can have the perfect plan, but it won’t get adopted and implemented if you don’t gain trust, buy in, and engagement.

And here are a few of the most common questions from attendees:

  1. Couldn’t you have done this strategic planning without a consultant? It’s rare that an institution has the internal resources. Using a consultant brought a needed detachment, a robust skillset and allowed leaders to be part of the planning process. It can be difficult to participate as part of the group and also run the planning process.
  2. Who did you involve in the strategic planning process? As many people as possible! We not only included key stakeholders, faculty and staff, but also students, and student workers and leaders. We engaged more than 3,000 people across campus in some part of the process — you can’t design a solution if you don’t understand the people you are designing it for.
  3. What types of tools and techniques did you use? It’s important to use different approaches to reach different types of learners: highly interactive workshops, breakout sessions, gamification, townhalls, surveys, graphic facilitation, data infographics, intranet sites, personas and more.