Monday Minute, November 29, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

I live close enough to TCF Bank Stadium that I could hear the announcer talking excitedly on Saturday afternoon, so I turned on the television to watch the tail end of the Gopher football team's improbable and impressive victory over a highly ranked Iowa squad. While sports metaphors seem all too common these days, it occurred to me, as I watched the game, how the success of our football team had lessons for us as we plan for our future success as a college.

The television announcers noted at least three reasons for Minnesota's win over Iowa. First, our team fully utilized the diversity of its talent. Rather than focus on a couple of star players, as the previous coach had apparently done, the new interim coach had plays going to a wide range of players, which seemed to surprise the opponent. Second, our team returned to basics -- good blocking and tackling, passing, and running -- which I gather we had veered away from in the recent past and which enabled us to overcome a strong Iowa defense. Third, our team did the unexpected and what the opponent had not thought of -- an onside kick early in the game -- that helped us gain the lead and win in the end.

Such tactics -- taking full advantage of our diverse talents, focusing on the basics and what we already do well, and looking for opportunities that others have overlooked -- can work well for us as well in our strategic planning. Like Minnesota's football team, we will succeed in our strategic efforts the more we focus on a limited number of clear goals, based on where we already excel and where the greatest prospects for growth occur. Once our various plans come in at year's end, we will share them and begin the next phase of finding synergies among them and gaining the maximum benefit from them.


PS. At the game, the crowd saw an "Academic Moment" on the big screen about our college's work in Haiti. You can see it yourself at our blog.