Failing to plan is planning to fail, the adage goes. President Neil L. Rudenstine is determined not to fail.
Harvard's new president launched an ambitious University-wide planning process this year to decide the school's priorities in preparation for a fund drive that will shatter world records.
Call it the Ten Year Plan. Or call it a Blueprint for the Future. Call it whatever you want, but this 356-year-old university has never seen anything like it before.
The basic idea is that Harvard's 10 faculties decide their goals and needs for the future and than work together to fuse them into a workable, University-wide plan for a fundraising campaign.
"It sounds just like `a planning process,'" Rudenstine says. But it's more than that, and he knows it.
In his first year in office, Rudenstine has devised a masterly scheme designed "to bring the institution to gether... to get everybody in the habit of thinking of everyone else's problems."
He wants his top lieutenants--from the dean of the Business School to the dean of the Divinity School--to join him in "thinking about how to organize and run the institution in a more interwoven and collaborative way... on the issues where it makes sense."
Easier said then done. It's Rudenstive versus a sprawling university with a long tradition of decentralized "home rule" for its 10 faculties.
"If it works, it will in the long run make a very big difference," Rudenstine says.
So far, it seems to be working Although the process is still in the early stages, several deans say it has helped them clarify priorities for the upcoming $2 billion-plus capital campaign.
Perhaps more importantly, they say, Rudenstine's plan for planning is already bringing the various parts of the University closer together.
Common sense dictates that when you put 10 deans and a potential $2.5 billion together in the same room, it's bound to get rather ugly.
Deans, department chairs and professors often harbor an exaggerated conception of their "needs," and even the tweediest academics can succumb to the human emotion of greed.
But Harvard administrators maintain that the planning process has not been marked by infighting. At least, not yet.
Rudenstine does not sense a great amount of internal strife. Still, he acknowledges that there will be some friction.