Advice: Strategic planning teams

By | January 22, 2020

Question: Now that HB 2213 passed, each institution needs to come up with a strategic plan for textbook affordability. The issue at our college is, how do you assemble a team that will buy into the planning process?

It is a common practice to start strategic planning by assembling a team. There are benefits to planning this way. For example, your plan will have more buy-in because more people feel ownership before it gets to the implementation phase. This approach also underlines the fact that textbook affordability cannot be just one person’s job (even if only one person on campus has it in their job title, as is likely the case). You also might miss important pieces of the puzzle if you’re working in a silo.

The group of Oregon and Washington librarians that put together a folder of strategic planning templates in 2019 summarized best practices that emphasize the communication aspects of the plan and the planning process. So, it’s understandable to feel anxious if you’re sitting at your desk and realizing that in order to comply with the strategic plan requirement in HB 2213 you’re going to have to write the plan yourself.

I asked for a second opinion from Regina Gong, Open Educational Resources (OER) & Student Success Librarian at Michigan State University Libraries. Regina has experience doing ground-up program-building work, using her own energy and enthusiasm to motivate colleagues towards open education goals. Regina’s take on this situation flipped the problem for me.

Regina shared that in her previous job, she was initially the only person on her campus with the interest and expertise to do any planning around OER. She wrote a strategic plan on her own and then used the plan to drive engagement. Because she was in a culture where she was the only person feeling ownership over OER, she made that part of her leadership strategy.

Regina kept campus stakeholders in mind for every item in the plan so that she would know who to engage when it came time to implement. When she approached the different groups, she always asked for their input and made changes as needed. This approach helped her re-energize and re-engage her campus partners.

The insight that I took away from talking with Regina is that you may already have what you need to get started. If you don’t have the kind of engagement that you’d like for your planning process, then one of the components of the plan would be goals around increased participation from various stakeholders. The plan you make would help you structure participation.

Got any additional advice about getting campus buy-in for your textbook affordability plan? Please leave a note in the comments! Got a thorny problem? Send an email at and maybe this advice column format will become a regular blog feature!