Participative process: UOC's strategic plan 2021-2025

The current context of crisis (ecological, health, socioeconomic, political crises) and transformation (social and technological change) poses to knowledge institutions a series of major questions that call into question their principles and their very raison d'être. The magnitude of the challenges they face can be daunting. The models of knowledge generation, the training of professionals, the education of free citizens, the working conditions of their workers, the participation of the community in their management and a long etcetera, are debated and conflictive aspects.

Providing answers, even tentative ones, to these problems and challenges is an urgent need for universities. In the traditional strategic decision-making approach, a high-level executive team sets the directions and defines the pillars of the strategic plan after listening to or consulting with representatives of some of the stakeholders, or even lets external consulting companies do the job. Newer approaches include participatory and innovative processes that appeal to the entire university community and make them co-responsible for the future of the institution.

This is the line of approach that will be followed in the participatory phase of the process of developing the UOC's Strategic Plan for the period 2022-2025. Our Technopolitics unit has been collaborating with the Strategic Planning Office to support the deployment process of the Decidim platform and has carried out external (non-binding) advisory tasks to contribute to its design, as well as research aimed at its critical evaluation with the aim of generating academic knowledge and indicating possible improvements for future editions.

In its current version, the design of the participatory process, of a consultative and deliberative nature, contemplates four major phases, in turn subdivided into sub-phases, which combine the generation of proposals, debates and the expression of preferences. Following the format established by the UOC for the drafting of strategic plans, the expected result is a set of initiatives to improve the 12 existing challenges in the plan developed to date, as well as the incorporation of new challenges, objectives (linked to success indicators or KPIs) and actions.

The final result of the entire participatory process, scheduled for July 2021, will be an articulated set of proposals of a strategic and tactical nature that will allow the institution to advance and improve in the coming years. The participatory process will close with a strategic plan whose degree of implementation can be publicly monitored over the next 4 years thanks to the Decidim monitoring module.

The design of the participatory process has been adapted to the needs, possibilities and limits of the current strategic plan design process, which range from the UOC's own decision-making structures to the existence of 12 previously established strategic challenges. A research by our team is already underway with the objective of evaluating these limitations and promoting improvements.