Practice and Portfolio
One of the unique features of the Associate Degrees offered through University College is the central focus given to the nexus between theory and practice. We are striving to increasingly make this more seamless in how we integrate subject content with opportunities to practice and demonstrate applied understanding.
One of the key ways we do this is through our Practice and Portfolio modules that you will be directed to as you progress through your MyLO module content each week. These modules are like a toolbox of tools and templates that you can practice and then utilise in your assignments, tutorials and workshops.
As you work your way through the module content in MyLO each week, you will be presented with opportunities to engage with and explore Practice and Portfolio tools and templates relevant to your enrolment in your Associate Degree and each subject you are studying. Any materials that are linked to compulsory course or subject requirements will be clearly marked.
In the early weeks of term, new students to the Associate Degree will be supported through Practice and Portfolio modules that guide the preparation of an individual Student Learning Plan and a Wordpress ePortfolio website. New students should also familiarise yourselves with the Practice and Portfolio modules on Reflective Thinking and Reflective Practice. Some assessment tasks are likely to require reflections, typically recorded in your ePortfolio blogspace or assessment tab.
Student Learning Plans:
All students enrolled in an Associate Degree at University College will develop an individual Student Learning Plan. As an independent learner, it is important that you take control of your academic journey to complete your Associate Degree. Part of this is starting off with your personal learning goals that set the foundation for your Student Learning Plan. If you have already developed your Student Learning Plan, you may wish to now review and update it in light of the subjects you are currently enrolled.
For students who have not yet developed a Student Learning Plan, to support you in this, access the following Practice and Portfolio modules via the links below.
Your Student Learning Plan is a living document maintained in your ePortfolio. You will be encouraged to revisit and maintain this plan as you progress through your degree studies.
Here are some different definitions of planning from the Management and Planning literature. As you read through these, see if you can identify any recurring or emerging themes about business planning.
Robbins et al. (2009, p. 246) summarise organisational planning as ‘defining the organisation’s goals, establishing an overall strategy for achieving those goals, and developing a comprehensive set of plans to integrate and coordinate organisational work. It is concerned with both ends (what is to be done) and means (how it is to be done)’.
Beach and Lindahl (2015, p. 5) consider planning ‘… a design process by which a plan, model, or template is developed that guides future actions to achieve goals(s) … With more complex approaches to planning evolving over time, the understanding grew that planning is only one element in a series including implementation and institutionalisation that creates a process of organisational change and reform’.
In the context of strategic management, Hanson et al. (2011, p. 100) describe business-level strategy as ‘… an integrated and coordinated set of commitments and actions the firm uses to gain a competitive advantage by exploiting core competencies in specific product markets. This means that business-level strategy indicates the choices the firm has made about how it intends to compete in individual product markets. The choices are important, as there is an established link between a firm’s strategies and its long-term performance’.
Boelens and de Roo (2014, p. 1) discuss how planners ‘… have tried to move beyond classic technocratic and/or sociocratic ideas of planning towards new approaches which address the multiplicity and fuzziness of our perceptions and actions in time and space …’.
Definitions of Planning | 1:24 mins
What are the main levels of business planning?
Traditionally, business planning activities and processes in organisations occur at three key levels – strategic, tactical and operational. These are described below. In our next module, we will compare and contrast these more formal approaches to business planning, with the more adaptive business planning practices utilised by entrepreneurs and small businesses. This may provide us with some clues as to how we need to adapt our business planning practices to ensure our organisations are sustainable and relevant in the 21st Century.
Strategic goals and plans
At the most strategic level, it is the organisation’s vision and mission statements that define the organisation’s purpose or fundamental reason for existence. It describes the overall values and aspirations of the organisation and its people and communicates this information to both internal and external stakeholders. Strategic plans focus broadly on the future of the organisation. They consider external environmental demands as well as internal resources required.
The vision and mission statements guide the organisation’s strategic goals and plans. It is at this strategic level that senior management focus on the organisation as a whole and position the organisation in terms of its surrounding environment. For example, an organisation may have as one of its strategic goals to increase the ability of the organisation to provide innovative solutions to meet future information technology needs of customers. In turn, strategic plans would be developed by senior management that specify the organisational activities and resource allocations required to achieve this goal.
Tactical goals and plans
At a divisional,functional, or business unit level, tactical goal setting and planning occurs where the middle managers in the major sub units within the organisation identify the outcomes they must focus on, in order to contribute to the overall
achievement of the organisation’s strategic goals and plans, and in turn, its vision and mission.
Tactical plans are designed to help execute major strategic goals and plans, and to accomplish a specific part of the organisation’s strategy. It is at this level that strategic plans start to be translated into specific goals and actions for specific parts of the organisation.
Operational goals and plans
Operational plans developed at the organisation’s lower levels specify action steps required for achieving organisational goals and in turn support tactical planning activities. They relate to small work units within the organisation and focus on the near term.
Lower level management and individual employees specify how overall goals are to be achieved by their relevant teams and positions, thus operationalising the organisation’s goals and plans right down through the organisation to all employees. Specific, measurable results expected from departments, work groups and individuals are then set at this level.
As environmental conditions have become more uncertain, complex and ever-changing, and short-termism and vested interests have taken hold, we have seen business plans in organisations shorten in duration – particularly in the West. Strategic plans used to be developed for 10+ year periods. The definition of a long-term strategic plan now has a time frame of around 3 years! Short-term plans are those covering 1 year or less.
Other types of business planning also exist. For example, competitive strategies and plans, succession planning, project plans, workforce planning, departmental/team action plans, performance development plans, advertising campaigns, plans relating to the introduction of new infrastructure or technology, e-business plans, feasibility studies, change management plans, business startup plans,growth/expansion plans, mergers and acquisitions plans, risk management and contingency planning, and so on.
What we will find is that across all these different variations of how business planning is applied in organisations,there are a range of traditional as well as adaptive processes and practices that organisations use. We will explore these further as we progress through the term ahead.