Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Vancouver, British Columbia delivers a unique blend of hands-on training, experiential learning and traditional academics.
With 20,000 students and 1,400+ employees spread out across four campuses, engaging everyone at Kwantlen and getting feedback is no easy task. But that was the challenge KPU President Dr. Alan Davis and his team took on when they recently set out to create a new strategic plan for the next five years.
“We serve every culture you can imagine and have a very complicated political system at every level,” explains Dr. Davis. “Kwantlen is a complicated place, at the best of times, to get a message out to—and more importantly, get feedback.”
In the past, KPU used conventional methods like surveys and focus groups to engage with people about strategic planning. This time, they wanted to take a different approach and partnered with ThoughtExchange to help make it happen.
“We wanted to focus our time and energy on getting the right goals, the right strategies and really understanding what was going on in the trenches,” Dr. Davis explains. “So we were looking for a technological solution that would be very easy to use, very open to everybody, including students, and that people would be drawn to.
“We came across ThoughtExchange because we had admired the strategic plan of one of our sister institutions and found they used ThoughtExchange to gather opinions from across all their stakeholders and used that as the basis for their goals and strategies.”
Taking engagement to the next level
“We wanted technology that would allow people to participate no matter their geographic location and very quickly, but also thoughtfully, provide feedback. And that’s what ThoughtExchange enabled us to do,” explains KPU Manager of Strategic Planning and Quality, Dr. Sunita Wiebe.
Dr. Wiebe and the KPU team worked with ThoughtExchange to set up an engagement that would meet their goals, and launched an exchange that reached the entire organization using ThoughtExchange software. Everyone could confidentially share and rate thoughts, at any time and from any device.
“It only took a few seconds to figure out how to click on things, maneuver and drill down,” Dr. Davis adds. “And people really participated with enthusiasm. They told us they were looking forward to the next round.”
Their initial strategic planning process, carried out five years ago, employed a task force of 25 people that engaged 700 people over two months. With ThoughtExchange, KPU employed a team of four people and engaged more than 1,300 people in just a few weeks.
“The quality of engagement was also clearly at a higher level,” notes Dr. Davis “People were making thoughtful comments and then adjudicating each other’s comments in a way that gave us a rich database of information we can use from now on. The data can be sliced and diced in all sorts of ways.”
"ThoughtExchange was really valuable to us. It saved so much time. It increased the level of engagement. It increased the excitement about what some people would consider to be a huge task, which is to develop a strategic plan for such a large institution. And it gave us results that are very actionable and clear."Dr. Alan Davis - President, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Deep insight and clear actions
For Dr. Davis, the most important result from the exchange was better insight into the day-to-day experience of students at KPU.
“We learned very actionable, important things and got insight into what it’s like to be a student here,” Dr. Davis says, adding that they put student experience at the top of their plan as a result. “We’re pretty confident we hit the nail on the head and, quite frankly, we wouldn’t have got to the student experience issue if it hadn’t been for ThoughtExchange.”
He adds that ThoughtExchange took what is normally a complicated process and turned it into a fun exercise that led to a better strategic plan.
“ThoughtExchange was really valuable to us. It saved so much time. It increased the level of engagement,” Dr. Davis explains. “It increased the excitement about what some people would consider to be a huge task, which is to develop a strategic plan for such a large institution. And it gave us results that are very actionable and clear.
“I’ve done strategic planning quite a few times, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more confident that we’re reflecting what’s needed. I get confidence that people around the institution agree with that. And now what we need to do is execute.”
Kwantlen finalized its Vision 2023 strategic plan for final sign-off in June 2018.
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- Find a simple, fast and non-prescriptive way to engage 20,000 students and 1,400+ employees across four campuses
- Learn what was most important across the organization and use the insights to create a better strategic plan
- Partnering with ThoughtExchange to launch an Advanced Exchange that got 2x more engagement in ¼ the time, with 10x less staff hours
- Rich data and important insights from stakeholder experience that showed key themes and recommended a clear course of action
- A better strategic plan focused on shared priorities and the most important goals across the university
- A rich database of insights from stakeholders to guide resource allocation and enable more effective decisions