Guidelines for Developing an SPG Strategic Plan
As Michigan State University seeks to assist its faculty to be nationally competitive for research funding from agencies and foundations and/or to promote national recognition, it is essential that the faculty have an opportunity to explore cutting-edge, risky research and scholarship that could lead to significant advances in the future and provide the faculty with a distinct competitive advantage.
This year's SPG program focuses on this challenge and opportunity. The program seeks to support research and scholarship that is high-risk and potentially high-impact. It is not intended for incremental research/scholarship or research/scholarship extending ongoing programs. There is enormous potential for advances when knowledge is generated and combined in new and unexpected ways. Therefore, the SPG program particularly encourages applications from researchers and scholars who have a vision for the future. Faculty, both teams and individuals, are encouraged to participate.
A fully developed and innovative strategic plan is a prerequisite to being competitive in MSU’s SPG program.
The following outline of basic strategic plan elements, evaluation criteria, and achievement strategies is offered to help SPG applicants develop a competitive strategic plan. The plan should permit a systematic assessment by reviewers of the prospects and potential of the proposed SPG initiative.
Elements of a Basic Strategic Plan
Your pre-proposal included responses to the following set of questions:
- How is the project leading-edge and innovative?
- What is the potential impact of the research/scholarship?
- Why do you believe that there is a chance for the initiative to succeed? How would you define success?
- What do you think will be accomplished in the first two years of a three year project?
- Why would the proposed initiative probably not be externally funded/supported without initial work?
- How will the SPG funds be used?
- How will SPG funding increase the chances for external funds/support?
- Who would be potential funders/supporters of the initiative and why would they be interested?
- If the initiative envisions the establishment of a center or institute, how will the initiative be sustained after the three years of SPG support?
- Does the research/scholarship/creative activity have the potential to produce intellectual property? If so, will the intellectual property have commercial potential? Provide a brief explanation.
Your responses to those questions, and possibly new insights that you have gained after reflecting on them, should be woven into the following required strategic plan elements:
State the purpose of the proposed initiative. What outcome(s) is the initiative planning to achieve?
Write a statement that projects the activity into the future. The statement should focus on research and scholarly outcomes.
External trends and conditions
To provide the strategic context of the plan, the intellectual and societal environment that frames the proposed initiative should be demonstrated. Identify what specific knowledge and innovations are to be advanced and what agencies would be interested in supporting such research or scholarship. What is the likely trajectory of support and, if applicable, intellectual property potential for the planned activity?
Provide statements of the general research and scholarship directions that are planned.
Provide statements, with operational detail, of specific actions to be taken to realize the initiative’s research and scholarly goals. Objectives are measurable actions that usually function as related and interdependent activities that are combined to form and drive programs toward intended outcomes. A useful approach to crafting a measurable objective is to specify who will do what under what conditions and to what extent. These four elements also will facilitate the design and execution of a monitoring and evaluation plan.
SPG applicants should identify strategies for accomplishing the proposed goals by addressing the following areas.
- Key to being able to realize the planned goals and objectives of the initiative is the need to have the capacity and critical mass of talent and expertise to execute the proposed activities. Discuss the critical mass of researchers and scholars that will be needed to be successful.
- Discuss the scientific, scholarly, and management capacity of the proposed initiative to realize the planned goals and objectives. Strategies typically are planned and executed according to priorities of the initiative’s programs.
- Also important are the means and channels by which the proposed initiative will achieve its desired impact on its targeted users. For example, peer-reviewed journal papers may not be the most effective means for influencing public policy makers or potential commercial investors. What partnerships and collaborative networks are critical to the intended innovation and impact of the proposed initiative?
Implementation Plan and Timetable
This component of the strategic plan should detail the phased actions that, in sum, will result in the outcomes specified in the measurable objectives. Regularly scheduled milestones, at least annual in frequency, should be specified to track progress toward each objective.
Monitoring and Evaluation Plan
Each research and scholarly goal and its related set of operational objectives should be used to formulate an evaluation plan that enables the initiative’s faculty and others to determine to what extent the planned actions are on a trajectory to accomplish their stated outcomes. The evaluation design also should enable monitoring of the status of plan implementation so that determinations may be made as to needed mid-course corrections or termination of selected planned actions.
Budget and Resource Plan
A detailed first-year budget must be provided. The budget justification should enable reviewers to understand the financial and other resource needs as well as the benefits associated with the proposed initiative. The budget narrative should make a compelling and pragmatic case for why scarce university developmental funds should be invested in this initiative over other meritorious proposals. All resource and infrastructure requirements must be specified, including any additional space needs, instrumentation, other specialized research facilities, post-doctoral fellows, and so on. Projected budget totals are required for the second and third years. While full justification is not needed, the narrative provided in justifying the first year budget can indicate projected new or additional costs in the second and third years.
Relationship to college(s)
In order to ensure that the SPG strategic plan is congruent with and supportive of college-level goals and priorities, college(s) and/or departments(s) of the PI (Co-PIs) are required to provide a 20% financial match. The college and department-level endorsements also imply that the basic infrastructure needs of the proposed SPG project, such as space and faculty time, will be provided.