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Advanced Seminar - Curriculum Strategic Visioning And Its Role In Leadership

Curriculum Description

This seminar is designed as a three-day seminar that can be tailored to the needs of mid-level managers/leaders that have participated in the USFS Middle Leader Program (See, Being a Leader in the Forest Service).

Participants arrive the day before the seminar formally begins and get checked in (usually at the Double Tree hotel, just across the Clark Fork River from the University of Montana campus). That evening we will hold an informal gathering at Finn and Porter, the restaurant within the Hotel, in order to welcome the participants, introduce how the seminar will be structured, and discuss the goals for the seminar, making sure we are all in agreement.

Depending on the group size, we will have created four to six randomly chosen groups of students (each with 5-7 students). Each of these groups will be assigned the task of solving a complex case study that integrates each of the five decision-making topics that we will be addressing during the week (see below). The case study will be developed prior to the seminar and submitted to the groups the night before the seminar begins. The solution to the integrated problems must be linked in with a strategic vision that the group will develop during the next three days. This aspect of the seminar will require students to gather and work in the evenings since most of each day will be occupied with the core curricula of the seminar.

In addition to our regular facilitators (see Instructors link), each day will include an open discussion with a visiting senior Forest Service leader. Employing small-group problem solving as well as full group discussions, we will use the case studies submitted by the students prior to the course in order to illustrate the following five areas of decision-making and the interactions between them:

Strategic visioning and its role in leadership

  • Personnel - what strategic decisions are there in making personnel decisions?
  • Resource Decisions (economic, social, political, legal, and biological factors)- what strategic decisions are involved when affecting natural resources?
  • Communication with Public - what strategic decisions are there to be made in communicating with the public?
  • Mission, vision, values, goals and tactics - what strategic thinking best influences and/or implements the mission and goals of the organization?
  • Organizational Culture - what strategic actions can positively create/influence the organizational culture of the Agency?

Day One - We will initiate the dialogue with a discussion of strategic visioning as a whole and its importance in leading an organization forward. We will then orient the discussion around the Forest Service's mission as a whole and the link between mission and strategic visioning. How clear is the organization's mission today? How do participants understand this mission? Is there a common understanding of the Agency's mission from within the organization? How does the public understand the Agency's mission? What does it mean to work in the "public interest"?

Day Two - The conversation will shift to a focus on the mission of various units (i.e. Region, Forest, or District) within the Agency. This session will ask whether or to what extent the mission of units in which the students work are in alignment with the overall mission of the Agency, linking this alignment (or lack of alignment) with a discussion of its affect on strategic visioning. How important is alignment of missions? How does non-alignment affect strategic visioning and how does this in turn affect unit performance? What are the means through which alignment can be achieved?

Day Three - This day will be dedicated to a discussion of how the students see their own personal mission within the agency and understanding the relationship between this personal mission and those of the unit and organization as a whole. How can individuals affect organizational mission through strategic visioning? We will provide ample time for an open discussion of the all the issues raised throughout the seminar.

During the afternoon of the last day, each group will present its solutions to the integrated problem exercise, followed by interaction with the rest of the group to uncover how they arrived at their solution through thinking strategically and working collaboratively. We will culminate with a presentation or inspirational speaker that ties together many of the concepts we've been discussing and provides the students with some good "food for thought" as newly invigorated (and hopefully more effective) leader.

This is an interactive course and participants will be expected to engage in discussion throughout all three days. We will also tie the lessons of the five aspects of decision-making in with individual reflection, noting the differing leadership styles of each individual. We will focus on understanding our individual strengths and weaknesses and how we each deal with these strengths and weaknesses in the context of leadership and strategic thinking.