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Retreat 2010 Summary

Strategic Planning Retreat

October 14-16, 2010

Under the guidance of Mr. Harrison Owen, originator of Open Space Technology, Arkansas State University conducted a campus-wide retreat October 14-16, 2010, to generate a list of opportunities and challenges to be used for strategic planning purposes. Dr. David Cox, professor of education, recommended the open space technology approach as a way to include the campus community in a transparent and time-efficient process to facilitate the strategic planning process.

Over 200 individuals (faculty, staff, administrators, students, alumni, philanthropic supporters and other friends) participated in the 2.5 day event generating over 90 discussion topics and 500+ pages of proceedings (see Strategic Planning Topic Index). Topics for discussion were introduced to the group by a convener who was then responsible for shepherding the topic from start to finish. At the “Village Market Place” the convener identified a location and meeting time for his/her topic. Individuals then proceeded to the market place to review topics and sign up for as many sessions as desired. At the end of each day, the convener, or a designee from the group, provided a summary of the session that was posted to the Newsroom wall for viewing by all in attendance. A copy of each topic report was distributed as part of the proceedings at the conclusion of the retreat on Saturday morning.

Individuals had the opportunity to attend as many sessions as convenient or to use the “law of two feet” and leave a discussion or the retreat if they did not feel they were learning or contributing. In addition, four principles governed the experience:

  • Whoever comes are the right people.
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
  • Whenever it starts is the right time.
  • When it’s over, it’s over.

Passionate discussions evolved in the sessions, during coffee and lunch breaks, and most any place two or more individuals gathered. The retreat brought together individuals who seldom have the opportunity to interact allowing for the exchange of ideas and concerns that transcend the various constituencies. An overarching theme introduced by Mr. Owen was “be prepared to be surprised” which was experienced by most, if not all, in attendance.