The Durban University of Technology (DUT), Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu together with some members of the Strategic Planning Working Group (SPWG) engaged with staff on the draft Strategic Map through one of the Strategic Plan Town Hall Engagements, held on Wednesday, 21 August 2019 at the Conference Centre, Hotel School on the Ritson Campus.
Director: Planning, Policy and Projects, Nicky Muller who is also part of the SPWG gave an overview and purpose of the Strategic Plan Town Hall Engagement series, which will tour across various DUT campuses in Durban and Midlands.
She said the one-pager draft Strategic Map which was presented in this session is a result of extensive work by the SPWG and it includes inputs from the broader DUT community that was obtained during the initial engagements earlier this year.
To highlight the importance of the Strategic Plan to DUT, she used the analogy of an orchestra which in order to play harmonising music, each band member must know which instrument to use and the notes to play. “Everybody must know their particular place and role. But we also need to create an enabling environment in order for this new vision 2030 to materialise,” she said.
Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu said part of the objective of the Strategic Plan Town Hall Engagements is to take the DUT community through the process of how they arrived to the one-pager draft Strategic Map. “Some of you may have been part of the presentations we had at the beginning of the year, and you will remember that I promised you a one-pager, so this is what I promised you. We can’t have a strategy without having consulted as widely as possible. There will be further engagements during the implementation phase so that everybody has a better sense of where we are going as a University,” he said.
Getting into the draft Strategic Map he said the team felt that it was important to retain the DNA strands from the current Strategic Plan, but they had to tweak them slightly. The new proposed DNA strands are: People-Centred and Engaged and Innovation and Entrepreneurial.
“The DNA was something that was introduced about five years ago, and we thought that it is quite a powerful concept to retain going further to 2030, it is really about our uniqueness and character as the University. But as we retain the concept of a DNA, we felt that we needed to make some tweaks without jeopardising the concept of what you call DNA. So we agreed that we will keep the double strands. We grappled with the current DNA strands, and we said what do they represent? And we felt that they represent the nature of people that we have here at DUT, almost like the enablers of what we would wish to see being the nature and character of the people we would like to see at the University,” he said.
He spoke about the importance of introducing the connectors of the DNA strands, which is not there in the current Strategic Plan. “We are now defining what it is that will bring together these DNA strands so that they work harmoniously and have impact,” he stressed.
He also highlighted the proposed shift from the four Strategic Focus Areas (SFAs), which are the key features of the current Strategic Plan, to four Perspectives because they felt that SFAs were design in such a way that they are not integrated to one another. “We live in a multi-disciplinary world. We realise that there is no single strategic objective that anyone can deliver successful without input from the others,” he added.
The Strategic Plan Town Hall Engagements are ongoing until 27 August 2019 at City Campus.
Muller also added that once they have consolidated feedback from these engagements they will submit the draft Strategic Plan (2020 – 2030) to the relevant internal forums for approval, and ultimately to the Council for final approval. “We will keep you updated about all the approval stages of the new Strategic Plan,” she added.
Pictured: Professor Thandwa Mthembu interacting with DUT staff on the draft Strategic Map for DUT.