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Developing your strategy

Supporting you to develop a visionary strategy

Institutions, large and small, are today having to be strategically responsive to a multitude of external and internal factors, some of which can be forecast whilst others are hard if not impossible to predict.  The 10- or 15-year horizon is no longer foreseeable, with strategies now needing to sustain through the short and medium-term shifts in the external environment.

We can support you to both develop and adapt a visionary strategy robust enough to withstand uncertainties in the external environment, but also implement and embed strategies into action across the organisation.

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How we can support you

Bringing a blend of expertise and over 15 years experience supporting and challenging the sector, Advance HE are well placed to support you on a range of challenges including:

  • whole-organisation strategy review and development, working with the senior team and others (this might include engaging the Board of Governors) – this could take the shape of our new Scenario Leadership programme for senior executive teams
  • faculty/college-level strategy development and planning around implementing new strategic initiatives
  • divisional strategy development for key service and support functions
  • facilitating the creation of new strategies for local, regional or international partnerships or collaborations
  • school and departmental strategy development
  • reviewing and developing cross-institutional thematic strategies covering areas such as research, enterprise, internationalisation, learning and teaching, assessment and feedback, community engagement, and so on
  • integrating and enhancing specific strategic agendas such as equality, diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, sustainability and climate commitments, digital transformation, and so on.

Our approach

Our approach to strategy development is grounded in theory and practice, and recognises that sustainable change combines horizon scanning and creative thinking with a detailed planning process and in turn leading to actions to implement change.

There are three key stages to effective strategy development: strategic thinking, strategic planning and strategic action:

Strategic Thinking

Divergence (conflict)
Both an analytical and creative process that explores future options and possibilities, often using scenarios to generate ideas and stimulate powerful strategic conversations.

Strategic Planning

Convergence (convert)
The process of making choices and converting the results of strategic thinking as a set of potentially actionable strategies into an integrated plan that can be implemented.

Strategic Action

Consensus (commit)
The implementation of the strategic plan as a series of change initiatives with the support and commitment of “key players” at all levels of the organisation.

Examples of interventions

Advance HE can provide support for each of the stages of strategy development, and this support can be tailored to reflect the scale and nature of your needs. From a comprehensive programme of support that takes in all three stages, run over an extended period of time with multiple interventions, to a single active session focused on stimulating strategic thinking and creativity, our experience of supporting higher education institutions on strategy development is extensive.

Our approach is tailored to your needs, but examples of the sort of programmes we can offer include:

  • our new Scenario Leadership Programme for senior executive teams
  • programmes and workshops on strategic leadership, strategic thinking and planning, making strategy happen, the art of ‘being strategic’, and similar
  • specific sessions on horizon scanning and scenario planning
  • workshop sessions, facilitation and executive coaching exploring the relationship between strategy, culture and values
  • creative thinking or sandpit sessions to focus on a problem, strategic challenge, new requirement or specific external development.
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Teaching and Learning Strategy and Portfolio Reviews

Advance HE has developed an approach to reviewing Teaching and Learning Strategies and Portfolios. We provide an external perspective on your Teaching and Learning Strategy supporting you to deliver on your own vision and mission. Drawing on deep expertise within learning, teaching and assessment, and knowledge of the wider sector and policy developments, we can provide a critical review of the implementation of your strategy.

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Linking strategy to culture

In many cases it will be desirable to look at strategy development and transforming culture hand-in-hand. Advance HE is uniquely placed to blend the approaches described here and in our Transforming Culture approach into a single integrated programme of support. Again, this is very scalable, from a long-term package of support involving one or more complete development cycles through to a single workshop-style intervention.

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Working with Jisc to provide a digital lens to your strategy

Through working together, Advance HE and Jisc can combine our expertise to provide all encompassing support for your strategy development. Rather than encouraging a separate digital strategy we encourage technology to be considered across all strategies. 

Jisc provide a digital lens to our strategy work. This puts technology as a core consideration for institutions when developing their strategies, for example, the use of technology in teaching and learning, with issues highlighted by the current climate, or how it can be used to achieve less obvious goals such as those in sustainability strategies.

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