The word ‘strategy’ often evokes an image of a labour-consuming, but rather useless paper detached from the real world, which is forgotten by all the parties involved soon after its completion. Actually, strategy work is extremely practical; it is about planning common goals, agreeing on concrete measures to be taken and, finally, implementing them. This is what we have been doing at the Language Centre. Our aim has been to keep the process open, communal and inclusive, supported by common theme workshops and our own “strategy wiki”, which contains all strategy-related documents, lists of contact persons, and schedules as well as material from and the results of meetings and workshops. On the wiki, viewers can follow and comment on items in progress. Even if not all take an active part in each and every stage of the process, openness and the opportunity to contribute make a difference to the end result and promote a convivial working atmosphere. In a multilingual and multicultural institute such as the Language Centre, the fact that discussion can take place in various languages and that the basic documents are available in English lowers the threshold for participation.
The head of administration has played a key role in skilfully scheduling and breaking the process down into phases. A preparatory group planned the objectives and programmes of common workshops and further processed the material produced in them. The director and superiors have made the final selection regarding objectives and measures to be taken. Each measure has been assigned a coordinator and schedule.
When selecting common goals, their genuine importance to the community must be carefully considered. We, of course, have plenty of goals for the development of teaching and the enhancement of internationalisation. Sometimes a tiny difference can have great significance: whereas the University’s objectives refer to interactive leadership in support of collegiality, we at the Language Centre sought to emphasise collectiveness and replaced ‘leadership’ with ‘policy’.
The present strategy process has been facilitated by the tools provided by the University, including a strategy map and template. Luckily, space on the template is limited, as we are definitely not at a loss for words! And when needed, Central Administration has always been there to offer a helping hand.
The Language Centre target programme lacks only the finishing touches. Helping us to understand the University’s objectives, to become more target-oriented and systematic in our pursuits, and to realise that these are the things we would be doing anyhow will surely be the best outcome.