Conclusion: Avoiding Pitfalls/Final Comments
The steps described in this book have been used successfully by colleges and
universities of all sizes. If you are going through the common sense management process
the first time, the experience of those who have gone before you has shown that there are
some pitfalls you should try to avoid:
- Abandoning strategy in a crisis.
Competing activities and crises can distract attention from implementing strategies.
Once a crisis develops, the institution may desert its strategy and revert to its
traditional operational mode. You can avoid this by turning your plan into the college's
day-to-day driving force and by recognizing and deliberately avoiding the tendency to
desert the strategy in a crisis.
- Shelving the strategic plan.
A major pitfall is shelving the plan. Often an institution will expend considerable
resources in developing a strategic plan, and then will not implement it.
- Failure to integrate common sense management with day-to-day operations.
A major pitfall is failure to integrate common sense management with the institution's
ongoing operations. In such instances, it is viewed as an "add-on," and not
related to routine daily operations. To avoid this, position your strategic plan as the
driving force of your institution, and make sure your annual operational and individual
performance plans are derived from it.
- Underestimating the time you need for implementation.
Often leaders do not plan enough time to carry out various implementation tasks,
downplay the likelihood of potential problems, and fail to recognize the problems that do
develop. You should allow time for unexpected problems and be prepared to use more staff
time to implement important strategies, especially when unexpected problems emerge.
- Failure to coordinate implementation effectively.
Another pitfall is failure to effectively coordinate implementation activities that are
carried out by different committees, task forces, and individuals. To avoid this, clearly
specify areas of responsibility in written plans and promote ongoing communication among
groups and individuals.
- Lack of personnel with sufficient skills.
An organization may develop a plan and then not have personnel with the skills and
abilities that are necessary to carry it out. To ensure that personnel have sufficient
skills and abilities, you should take time in your strategy development process to
understand what will be required. Then, plan either to acquire individuals with the needed
skills, to train present staff in these skills, or, if these skills are impossible to
obtain, to adjust the strategy.
- Failure to plan for contingencies.
Unexpected developments may upset a strategic plan. It is possible to plan for many
eventualities or outcomes using the method of contingency planning.
- Allowing the plan to become outdated.
You should avoid allowing the plan to become outdated. Committing the institution to a
regular run-through of the strategic management process will help avoid this pitfall.
To conclude, keep in mind that common sense management is:
- An ongoing, dynamic process, not a plan "cast in bronze"
- An imaginative look at future possibilities for your institution, and not just an
extrapolation of present conditions
- An examination of trends affecting your future so that you can make better current
decisions, not an attempt to make future decisions today
- A process that any school, regardless of size, can implement, and not something that is
only for large universities
Throughout this book we have stressed that common sense management is a flexible
process. You can start with any segment of the process bearing in mind that you need to do
all the segments. You can use any group process that works best for you and the culture of
your institution. The key to recognize is that its flexibility is what makes common sense
You add to the basic segments the newest process methods, the newest technology, the
newest research, and the newest management methods as you desire. Always remembering that
the future is not set in concrete. There will be unexpected happenings and you and your
institution will need to adjust your plan, strategies and tactics accordingly.
You need to also understand that common sense management can be applied in various ways
by size of institution. For example a small college would probably apply the process for
the whole institution and develop a comprehensive strategic plan to guide all its
departments. On the other hand, a large complex university might conduct the internal and
external analysis, set broad institutional vision and goals and then charge each college
and department with doing their own common sense management process. The outcomes of the
individual colleges and departments would then be reviewed by the universitys common
sense management team for institutional conflict resolution, priority setting and resource
In the final analysis, use your common sense! Look outside the institution for threats
and opportunities. Look inside for strengths and weaknesses. Match the two for the best
fit and move forward.