The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MLDP Recap: The Power of Strategic Planning and Systems Thinking

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Read a student's account of our most recent session in our Management Leadership and Development program below. For more information, about MLDP, click here.
This week, the MLDP program welcomed Marty Jacobs. Ms. Jacobs is the President of Systems In Sync, a firm that specializes in strategic planning for corporations and other organized groups. Ms. Jacobs introduced the group to a variety of activities designed to promote how to facilitate more effective group planning. In one example, she challenged us to complete an activity (keep a balloon from touching the floor within our small groups) and then introduced a new challenge variable (another balloon was added) to the group as the activity progressed. At the end of the activity, Ms. Jacobs stressed how important it is for groups to be resilient and to plan for and adapt to possible variables that could alter a project.

Ms. Jacobs also introduced a new three-pronged test she thinks any group should use before they start to address a problem. First, she said it is necessary for a group to have a shared mission or a common belief as to “why we are here.” Without that, a group cannot possibly be cohesive enough to move to the other two prongs of the test. She said that a group needs a common vision.  She told how so many groups lack this second part of the test and as a result loses their ability to work as a group or even work counter-intuitively over the course of the project. Finally, she said it is necessary for groups to have common values. She believes this is a frequently overlooked requirement but just as critical as the other two parts of the test.

Ms. Jacobs finished the night by citing examples of case studies of various strategic plans she has worked on in the past and then she challenged the MLDP group to use strategic planning strategies to address issues on campus and in their own lives.

-Tyler Kuhn '14

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