Monday, January 25, 2010

How we make Peirce a better place for working adults: Inside our strategic planning process

Part of the lifecycle of any proactive and progressive organization is the process of strategic planning. Nonprofits, corporations, schools, and government organizations all have formal and informal methods of examining past performance, evaluating their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (via a traditional SWOT analysis), deciding on the best strategy going forward, and implementing changes that will help ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization.

Peirce College is no exception. Since July 9, 2009, the college has been engaged in its own strategic planning process. We have provided periodic updates on the Peirce Web site, and as we approach the completion of our second planning phase, I'd like to share some insight into the process itself.

When Peirce President Jim Mergiotti took the helm in July 2009, the college was ready for its next round of planning. This was one of the first initiatives President Mergiotti took on when he began, excited to ensure Peirce College's continued success. One of his core goals was that it be a transparent process that engages as many of Peirce's core stakeholders and partners as possible -- including alumni, students, faculty, the Board of Trustees, and local business partners.

The end goals are simple, but nonetheless important to the College, our students and alumni -- determine our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as an organization, discuss how to leverage those determinants, and make changes that benefit Peirce College, students, alumni, our community and the Philadelphia region.

We worked with strategic planning consulting firm Stevens Strategy to gather feedback and help guide the overall process. During Phase 1, we conducted interviews to collect strategic issues, completed a market survey, and held a large Stakeholder's Conference that brought together a diverse group of students, alumni, staff, faculty, Board members, consultants, and local business partners. The group reviewed the strategic issues and identified categories which served as the framework for Phase 2. They also discussed the current and future needs of students and alumni, and worked to understand Peirce College's overall position in the Philadelphia community.

Next, we divided this information for discussion and debate, establishing seven workgroups. The workgroups met on a weekly basis over the course of Phase 2, and were able to successfully make recommendations addressing each category.

That brings us to where we stand today, nearing the end of the second phase of the process. In Phase 3, President Mergiotti will work with the steering committee to develop the strategic agenda that will ultimately shape the future of Peirce.

In the coming weeks and months I'll be sharing additional updates, as well as providing a look into more of the discussions taking place and changes that might emerge from them.

And of course we welcome your insights and questions about all of this. Please feel free to share them here in the comments or reach out to me directly at You can also send feedback to