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Design It! Creating an Institute for the Future

Design it? How should we structure and design our institute?

On this page you'll find answers to these questions:

"Should we write a plan?"
"How can we plan annually?"

How should we structure and design our institute?

You’ll need to design your center to reflect your definition. The structure your it will take depends on several factors. Your organization’s vision and mission are central. Furthermore, intrinsic futures interests of faculty and staff are also valued.  Every organizational culture has a “history” of the future.”  That is, history of how the organization has dealt with the future that will drive the design.

Should we write a plan?

Planning is key for success. IF@AACC was conceived through a business plan.  Realistic visioning and mission setting by way of a business plan are essential in acting as a magnet for the future.  Getting collective ownership of these by a leadership team enhances the likelihood of success.

  • The business plan, complete with financial estimates, can serve as a strategic plan for the first years of operation. Annual tactical plans will help guide the institute and make utilization of resources possible.  A futures institute needs to look at the future! And, planning, short term and long term, is expected.
  • Strategic planning is more than “coffee table” activity. In other words it needs to be done rigorously, seriously and continually.  To be useful, institute leaders need to think strategically every time they get together, not just at the annual planning retreat.  As futurist Glen Heimstra points out “strategic thinking” needs to precede planning.  All this makes sense if one assumes that the environment is constantly changing and strategies need to emerge to adjust continuously.

This is not to suggest that a written plan is a “bad thing.”  Far from it.  A plan is a grounding device.  It helps to avoid reactive thinking that can be wasteful and useless.

How can we plan annually?

Annual Tactical plans help provide focus for “what you’re going to do in the immediate future.”  This is where the intentional action is tied to the plan for the short term.  It allows people and resources to be directly linked with program goals and objectives. In tactical plans can be measured.

The IF tactical plan directly connects groups of advisory team members with goals and objectives for annual activity. As team member involvement is only a small portion of their professional work for a given year, it is essential to efficiently direct and connect this important resource so as not to waste it. IF thinks of this connection in terms of a “human energy matrix.”  In short, the matrix is a representation of all current IF projects for the year and all those interested in contributing some amount of time in completing this activity.

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