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Extension > Family Matters > Shifting Gears and Making Plans

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Shifting Gears and Making Plans

By Karen Shirer, Associate Dean

For many of us, autumn brings cheering on our favorite football teams, sitting by the fire on cool and mosquito-free evenings, and appreciation for the many colors of changing leaves. My favorite activity is watching the hummingbirds make their final preparation to migrate south by eating at our feeders.

July 20 - Caught in flight
Photo credit: Pat Kight

I also think of autumn as a time to shift gears from the slower pace of summer on the fourth floor of Coffey Hall to the beginning of a new semester and new initiatives. In Family Development, we hope to roll out a new initiative on program business planning, similar to what our colleagues in the Extension Center for Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources do every year.

This summer, the FD leadership team researched and discussed what implementing a process for planning programs with a business angle would look like. Some of you are familiar with business planning that is often used by start-up firms or entrepreneurs to plan their steps for success. A business plan details the need for the service, item or, in our case, the program being proposed. The writers describe the comparative advantage of their proposed business or program over other options and detail their plan for establishing the business or program.

A business plan serves several purposes: it "sells" potential funders on the idea and it focuses efforts to launch the business and program. When well-written, the business plan serves as a road map for successfully launching a business. Seasoned business owners develop new plans when they decide to diversify or move in a new direction.

In Family Development, we are proposing a formal program business planning process for 2017. Teams of faculty and staff will convene together to write their plans. Leadership will use these plans to make decisions about funding, evaluation, and other program supports. This approach will help us invest our resources in the programs that are most needed and have the greatest opportunity for success.

FD’s center meeting at Fall Program Conference will introduce and provide background information on program business planning. Although this event doesn’t include everyone in the center, eventually all of you will contribute to or have a stake in program business planning.


We are at the start of developing this process, so look for more details in the near future on this blog and through webinars on our all-day meetings on the last Wednesday of each month.

I look forward the development and launch of this new initiative this autumn, as well as watching the hummingbirds fuels up for their journey. What autumn activity are you looking forward to?

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