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No 150-page, 'paperweight' strategic plan for Cambrian

Cambrian College isn't looking to develop “a paperweight document that sits somewhere that nobody looks at” in coming up with a five-year strategic plan to bring the college through to the year 2020.
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A number of engagement sessions for Cambrian College's strategic plan are coming up. File photo.
Cambrian College isn't looking to develop “a paperweight document that sits somewhere that nobody looks at” in coming up with a five-year strategic plan to bring the college through to the year 2020.

Instead, it's looking to do something more like Laurentian University did in developing its 2012-2017 strategic plan, which was only a few pages long, and had concise and achievable — yet forward-thinking — goals.

“I think Laurentian did a great job in their process,” said Cambrian's new president Bill Best.

“I had the opportunity to talk to (Laurentian president Dominic Giroux) two and a half weeks ago. A lot of the thought processes he had behind what he was doing, I have the same thought processes.

“I used the terminology 'it needs to be memorable and repeatable,' so we're not looking to create a 150-page document. We're looking to create something that is very tangible and can be accomplished.”

The strategic plan also needs to be prescient, and anticipate what the province's college system will be like in 2020, Best said.

He has no illusions about the difficulty of predicting the future, though.

Best gives the example of Blackberry, saying that no one would have thought 10 years ago the tech company — which then had so much money it tried to buy an NHL team — would be financially strapped.

The Blackberry example also shows the problem with resting on your laurels and not being innovative, he said.

That's where the community comes in — when people start bouncing ideas off of each other, someone's eventually going to come up with an idea that will propel the college into the future, Best said.

To that end, Cambrian is inviting Sudburians to participate in its strategic planning process over the next six months.

Starting in November, it will ask citizens what it should be discussing, and then move into more specific consultations during the winter months, before compiling the information. The plan is expected to be released next September.

To reach out to more people, Best said Cambrian will use a combination of social media consultations and more traditional in-person sessions to gain input from stakeholders, including students, alumni and community members.

The process will kick off Oct. 16 with an event for Cambrian alumni, which starts at 7 p.m. at the college's eDome.

“We've kind of come up with this thing in the last week where if you have five seconds, five minutes, five hours, five days, or five years, there's ways you can help us,” Best said.

Even as Cambrian goes through its planning process, it already has a plan of sorts in place in its three-year strategic mandate agreement with the province, which was made public in the summer.

But in signing off on the agreement, the province was aware that Best was due to take office in August, and would be leading Cambrian through a strategic planning process.

The province has left some room to amend the agreement if necessary, Best said.

Arriving on campus just in time to plan Cambrian's future is an ideal situation for a new college president, he said.

“I don't think it could be any better,” Best said. “I think the luxury of coming in and being able to have those conversations and dialogues ... it's kind of a special opportunity.”


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