RMIT University is embarking on a process  – Shape RMIT – to develop a five year strategy, under the direction of a new Vice Chancellor, Martin Bean.

The Vice Chancellor, Executive and strategy Project Team recognised the importance of an approach that is collaborative, transparent and engaging, while providing students and staff with meaningful opportunities to shape the future of RMIT.

The challenge that was set for this project:

How might we engage up to 100,000 students, staff and stakeholders in the strategy development process, in order to create the best possible and most supported strategy?

The Vision we co-created:

An engagement process in which students, workforce and other stakeholders could contribute to the overall strategy and in doing so  develop the capability for the University to scale this process to an increasingly larger community of stakeholders.

The overall approach we are taking to this engagement has the following elements:

Action learning and an adaptive design.  

We are being innovative in our approach to engagement, and therefore must be prepared to learn and adapt.  We view the process as a series of learning cycles. Each cycle allows us to test our assumptions, learn, and change tack as needed.

With each cycle, we also plan to increase the number of participants who are being integrated into the process, allowing it to scale organically.

Face-to-face and Digital

Face-to-face engagement methods often struggle to maintain a consistent and coherent conversation through time and across large numbers.  At the same time digital engagement methods struggle to foster passionate, in-depth, trust-based contribution by participants.

Our method uses face-to-face interactions to build momentum, and make participants comfortable with digital tools.  Done continuously, this generates a virtuous cycle that scales engagement.

The specific work we’ve done with RMIT which supports the overall project vision and approach:

  1. Leadership of the overall engagement design and process for the collaborative development of the new strategy.
  2. We co-facilitated a 2-day executive leadership kick-off workshop for the Vice Chancellor and his leadership team whereby we created the initial themes, focus areas and plan for the strategy and strategy development process.
  3. Provided collaboration support to the Shape RMIT the project team in their team meetings so they could achieve early shared understanding and a shared plan.  This was done through meeting design, co-facilitation, scribing as well as introducing collaborative best practices and tools.
  4. Designing and developing the online strategy collaboration platform. Collabforge deployed a custom instance of our collaboration platform, Collabco, supported by our online engagement practices as the core point of integration of outputs from all other engagement activities.  This involved integration of our Collabco platform with a discussion platform called Loomio which allowed the RMIT community to discuss and contribute ideas for the strategy.
  5. Creation of a catalyst kit for passionate cohorts of staff and student early adopters to amplify the message, process, tools and ideas to their own networks and to catalyse greater participation and, most importantly, contribution from a larger community into the overall process.  The catalyst kit included a description of the role of a catalyst, workshop guide, campaign guide and an online collaboration guide.
  6. Design and facilitation of staff and student workshops which were designed to communicate the vision and plan for ShapeRMIT, generate ideas about the future of RMIT and teach staff and students how to access and use the online collaboration platform we had created.

This project is still in progress but these are some of the outcome measures we are seeing so far:

  • Over 300 people registered their interest to become early adopters of the platform
  • 551 responses to a survey (see results here: https://shapermit.com/shapermit-polls-result )
  • Over 600 students & staff registered accounts so far
  • Over 120 discussions with around 70 proposals (with people voting on these)
  • Since launching on the 1st June 2015, shapermit.com has seen over 32,000 page views

You can read and see more about what’s been happening and what is yet to come for Shape RMIT here | https://shapermit.com

You can also read an excellent blog post from our IT Lead, Matt Withoos, about how we integrated our Collabco platform with the Loomio platform |  http://bit.ly/1DECXCc