Last week, more than 500 of us from 89 counties and campus came together for our leadership summit. We agreed upon fundamental principles to guide our decisions, structure, behavior, and priorities in Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. We also prioritized that we must collectively focus on some specific actions if we, as an organization, are going to thrive. Finally, we pulled from the principles and actions to identify a set of priorities for our action. We agreed to strategically support partnerships and collaborations, the development of effective planning and coordination systems, including ones for professional development, and needs assessment. The Leadership Team is already reviewing ways to realign resources and begin moving toward these priorities. Prior to the summit, I pulled together a team that is already at work compiling everything we worked on into a report that will become our playbook. This action plan will guide how we invest resources—people, funds, and time—in the coming year and will be ready in a month. In the meantime, see the one-page summary.
This summit marks the start of the new way we are going to do business in ISU Extension and Outreach. No more ad hoc, seat-of-the-pants operations. We have a lot of knowledge and best practices in ISU Extension and Outreach, and it would be good to have systems to share them. Think of the extraordinary capacity we would have if we could stand on each other’s shoulders.
We will have to strike a balance on a number of issues, and it won’t be easy: how do we allow flexible entrepreneurship vs. having common structures, when do we use common systems vs. providing tailored responses, when is it most efficient to operate in a centralized vs. decentralized manner? We’ll need to make these decisions as we proceed.
I went to the summit probably much like you, with expectations. I hope that like mine, most of your expectations were fulfilled.
- I hoped that we would remember we are a team. No matter which category you selected during voting, we are all one team with common mission and common principles.
- We are all part of moving us forward — decisions each of us makes determine our success and whether we create something meaningful as our “what’s next?” or whether we just go back to business as usual.
- We want to be a part of a meaningful endeavor—a relevant, vibrant organization. The summit certainly offered evidence of our shared commitment.
As I’ve said before, here in Iowa, people care about each other and their communities. They believe if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Iowans see the value in serving the public good, and they come together to get things done. But, WE ARE NOT done. Please keep engaged; when asked, give input, serve on committees, pilot new systems. Take responsibility for helping us become what our early pioneers envisioned. Let’s live according to our principles. Let’s carry out our mission. Let’s be Iowa State’s treasured resource. See you there.
P.S. We are still taking comments related to the summit on the blog site. To be able to review and share ideas when appropriate, we need comments by noon next Tuesday, Nov. 15.
Attitude, Communication, Leadership, Mission, Partnerships, vision