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Case Study

University of California—Merced

Driven by economics and demand, the University of California’s newest campus in Merced was expected to double in size by 2020. No fewer than 72 change projects faced Michael Reese, vice chancellor of Business Administration, in 2016 when he engaged The Grove’s Gisela Wendling, Ph.D., and David Sibbet to facilitate a campus-wide 2020 Visioning and Change Alignment Process.

The process combined large-scale strategic-change consulting, visual facilitation, Grove Storymapping®, and interactive-network technology in a series of large summit meetings with faculty, staff and students. The meetings were guided by a Change Alignment Team (CAT) of top project managers led by Reese and the former dean of the School of Engineering, Erik Roland. At Chancellor Dorothy Leland’s insistence, the process streamed real-time to students, staff and faculty who couldn’t attend the face-to-face meetings. An interactive platform provided by Grove partner Covision allowed virtual and in-person table groups to share the same visioning, goal-setting, and insight-sharing activities.

The development of the large Storymap (see above) provided a focus for the project, as it went through version after version following meetings with the chancellor and provost, as well as the CAT, Cabinet, and Summit meetings. The new campus plan is shown under a spiral of visions that represent an aligned aspiration. The projects, prioritized for 2017, move through agreed-on criteria illustrated on the giant Beginnings sculpture and flow across Scholar's Bridge. New students walk through the sculpture as they begin their studies, and they cross Scholars Bridge when they graduate.

The level of engagement, agreement and momentum that was achieved has kept the Vision & Change Alignment map alive as a focusing tool for leadership, and it continues to guide construction and all related organizational changes as the University moves forward with the change process.

“We are taking the existing map and promulgating it across the campus and using it in a variety of ways. It feels like the map is very present. It is being seen as a leadership tool. The chancellor uses it and the academic leadership has begun using it in an active way. We had a breakfast with 150 staff, marking years of service at UC Merced and the Vision Map was at every table.”

Michael Reese
Vice Chancellor for Business Administration
University of California—Merced

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