To date, Wright State’s strategic planning process is the most comprehensive I have seen in my career. What began at the March strategic planning summit with more than 100 Wright State stakeholders has blossomed into a comprehensive set of guiding values that shape our mission and values that define our character. These values have in turn led to draft vision and mission statements, five areas of strategic focus for university activity, and 15 strategic initiatives.
Currently, members of the strategic initiative teams are hard at work creating aspirational statements and goals. I participated in one of these teams at mini-summit 3 on Friday, June 22. Senior leadership has challenged us to “think big” and imagine how our strategic initiatives can transform Wright State into a sustained period of prosperity.
Thinking big can be difficult — this is because we all come to the table with knowledge about various constraints that will impede our ability to change. In fact, instead of generating the big ideas, it is easy to get bogged down into imagining every critique an idea will get, every challenge to successful implementation, and a host of other roadblocks. We need to resist these thoughts.
This led me to think about a concept we talk about in strategic management called “Blue Ocean Strategy.” Imagine for a moment the ultra competitive area of higher education that Wright State competes in. We compete with other universities for students, for talented faculty, staff, and administrators, and for financial and other resources. This ultra competitive environment is also referred to as a “red ocean.” It is very difficult to survive in a red ocean because it is difficult to grow.
Instead, many successful organizations have tried to re-imagine what they can do by competing in other spaces. They seek new opportunities and different ways of conducting their operations. These improvements lead to new customers, more opportunities for growth, and can unleash amazing organizational potential. This is called a Blue Ocean Strategy.
As I considered Blue Ocean Strategy, I thought about one of our five areas of strategic focus: digital transformation of services, which aims to leverage technology to create a seamless digital experience for all constituents. Imagine a future at Wright State where students can apply for admission and receive a decision within 24 hours; imagine a future at Wright State where university staff can navigate a single information system to pull together key information about our students, and reach out to them, leading to higher student retention and satisfaction. Imagine a future at Wright State where students have a common look and feel and logical flow of information for their classes within our learning management system. One example of a Blue Ocean Strategy involving some digital transformation is here (2:15-2:35):
I am inspired as we continue on to the most critical point of our strategic planning process. Our 15 strategic initiative teams have an amazing opportunity to think big and to transform Wright State into a university for the future. I cannot think of a time when we will have the collective attention of our university’s faculty and staff, administrators, Board of Trustees, and community stakeholders. Now is the time to think big — we have to take this opportunity to make the incredible strides we are fully capable of making.
Associate Professor of Management and International Business
Raj Soin College of Business