Sometimes leaders, and their followers, get confused.
In December 2011, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that thousands of Eared Grebes had crash-landed in Cedar City, Utah. During a storm the migrating birds seemed to have mistaken a rain-slicked Walmart parking lot for a lake. As reported in the Tribune, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources estimated that nearly 5,000 birds landed at Walmart. Grebes aren’t built for ground landings, but are designed for the water. The impact left some birds dead, some injured, and some terribly confused.
Maybe no one in ISU Extension and Outreach has ever crashed into a Walmart parking lot, but chances are, we’ve all been confused a time or two. It’s not hard to get mixed up when leadership decisions seem unclear, processes appear random, or basic principles are uncertain.
However, our leadership summit in November marked the start of our new way of doing business in ISU Extension and Outreach.
- We affirmed that our core purpose is to provide research-based educational programs. We extend the resources of Iowa State University to our state.
- We accomplish our goals by developing diverse and meaningful partnerships.
- Through our purpose and in partnership, we provide relevant, needs-driven resources, and as a result, create significant impact in the state of Iowa.
We agreed that these fundamental principles would guide our decisions, structure, behavior, and priorities across our programs. That’s why we will be making strategic changes to streamline ISU Extension and Outreach Administration into four functional units to better support our overall mission:
County Services and Outreach. This unit will support county-based efforts and extension councils, build partnerships, and coordinate program implementation across the state and at the local level. This unit also will better align us with our ISU academic counterparts; ISU provides student services and is student centered, while Extension and Outreach provides county services and is citizen centered.
Program Leadership. Headed by our program directors, this unit will guide our efforts in educational program development.
Operations. This unit will focus on human resources, finance, and business activities; setting up practices, procedures, and processes that are clear and establish how to access resources or assistance.
Organizational Advancement. This unit will keep us on track with our mission, developing our people; communicating our efforts to partners, stakeholders, and others; coordinating fundraising and philanthropy; and advancing Iowa State and Extension and Outreach.
The Administrative Response to our leadership summit will include more information about the roles and responsibilities of these units and other actions we will be taking to clarify processes and decisions. This structure, along with our business plan and strategic plan, will move us forward on our path to becoming a relevant, vibrant organization, with a common mission and common principles. No more confusion, and no more crashes. See you there.