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    • 05 JAN 21
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    Planning in Uncertain Times

    Planning in Uncertain Times

    Colin Jones, FSA President

    Strategic Planning is an Opportunity

    Undergoing a strategic planning process is an opportunity for the BCITFSA to define its strategy – or build a roadmap, make decisions on allocating resources towards achieving the strategy, and build a tool for accountability. A good strategic plan will seek to advance the organization’s constitutional purposes and take us closer to achieving our vision through our mission while living up to our values.

    The development of a strategic plan is a practice of making choices; picking approaches and narrowing priorities. No single plan during a defined period of time can possibly do everything and be everything to everyone. A process such as strategic planning, even with its limitations and drawbacks, encourages organizations to make choices and be accountable for those choices. It asks an organization to prioritize, to make choices about where to put time, money, and energy.

    Opportunities to Participate!
    We have an online suggestion form, weekly e-bulletin questions in January, conversations at member meetings, and a survey for members in PTS.
    See below for more details about participation!

    Planning for 2021 and Beyond

    Taking time to prepare for a strategic planning process and to be clear about what kind of process will best serve our organization, makes it more likely that the strategic planning process – and the resulting strategic plan – will add value to meeting our mission, achieving our vision, and living up to our purposes and values.

    On November 7th the board was facilitated through a half-day workshop to review the work that has been conducted in 2019, assess the 2015-20 plan, discuss a framework for the new plan, initiate stakeholder mapping, and form a Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG).

    Planning Underway

    The SPWG continued the board’s work on stakeholder mapping and developed a plan for reaching out to stakeholders as well as to gather information from sources in our sectors (post-secondary, labour movement, faculty associations, etc.) that may inform the final plan. Under the board’s approval, we are working with a consultant from Vantage Point to guide us through the process and to facilitate the board’s strategic planning workshop on February 27, 2021.

    Hearing from Stakeholders

    Image of multi-coloured hands raised and the words 'Get involved' across the imageThroughout this process we will be seeking input from stakeholders – primarily the members of the FSA. The timeline for planning is somewhat condensed but we hope that members will participate to guide the FSA in the development of this plan.

    Opportunities for participation include:

    • Submission of input through this online form
    • Responding to our ‘question of the week’ surveys in our weekly Friday e-bulletins during January 2021
    • Conversations at our January & February Tech Rep meetings
    • Input at our January 27th all-members general meeting
    • A survey of FSA members who work solely in Part-Time Studies (PTS)

    Additional input will be gathered along the way from the board and FSA office staff as well as by reviewing existing sources of input from our members such as our 2017 and 2019 all-member baseline and surveys on bargaining, research, and other issues. We will also be drawing on information gathered from the FSA’s three member caucuses (Equity Caucus, Caucus on Part-Time Studies, and Caucus on Applied Research & Advanced Studies).

    The final strategic plan will be approved by your board of directors and rolled out to the membership in late Spring 2021 with implementation kicking off with the start of our fiscal year (July 1, 2021). The elements of that plan will be more robust and better with you – the FSA membership – involved. We hope you’ll participate in some of the ways outlined above.

    Refining our Vision, Mission, and Values

    Part of a strategic planning process is to review and reassess our vision, mission, and values. Fortunately, the board spent time working on this in 2019 and our process at this time will allow them to refine and ensure that these statements are inline with our purposes and commitments to the FSA’s membership.

    Looking Back on 2015-18(20)

    When undergoing a new strategic planning process, it is reasonable to ask: how did we do on the last plan? In 2014-15 the FSA board of directors undertook a process that resulted in the 2015-18 Strategic Plan. The plan was centered around the idea of getting more for FSA membership and centered around twelve goals with thirty-seven related initiatives. With significant changes in our board and staff team in 2018/19 the organization extended the life of the plan and started to dive into preparing for a new strategic plan in the 2nd half of 2019. Additional turnover and then the start of the pandemic delayed the process again and the 2015-18 plan was officially extended to 2020.

    When the board met in November 2020 to restart the strategic planning process the staff submitted an evaluation of the status of the goals and initiatives. Even with all the change the organization experienced we were pleased to see that only one initiative was deferred, 30% of the initiatives were completed, 27% are ongoing and embedded in regular operations, and another 40% are underway at various stages of progress (most of those are also becoming embedded in regular FSA operations).

    Looking back at our 2015-18(20) plan is helping inform our current process and provides us with a guide for what kind of plan we want to build for the years ahead.

    Planning in Times of Uncertainty

    As we are acutely aware of in 2020, even with the best laid plans we experience changes in our environment that we could not have contemplated in our planning processes. We must also be intently focused on our sphere of influence and work within our scope, not the scope of BCIT or any other organization.

    A strong strategic plan – that is closely aligned with the purposes of the BCITFSA – should strengthen and deepen our work, even if it needs to be flexible and adaptive along the way. We have to be comfortable with uncertainty and forge ahead with developing a strategic plan for 2021 and the years ahead that enhances our ability to represent, negotiate, and advocate for our members.

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