The past several months I've been serving on the Visioning Committee for the future of the Cooperative Extension System in Utah. The diverse committee has spent a great deal of time working on root definitions that will guide us for the next 100 years. We're also working on a list of improvements that we will recommend to the VP of Extension. Everything is on the table. We're taking input from everyone as we work transparently to improve and refine the way we serve and educate.
Participating in this committee has been a tremendous learning experience for me. I'd like to share what I've learned about the process of sharing ideas.
It's one thing to blurt out an idea to improve Extension, it's another to consider how the change can actually happen. Most of what I've been writing about recently has just been ideas and suggestions for ways we can improve Extension together. My hope has been that open-minded Extension professionals will read my blog and change the way they work. But how do we get the rest of Extension to change? How can we fix this broken system?
These are the worksheet questions we in Utah have been using to refine our suggested improvements for Extension. Use these questions as an exercise to improve your ideas on How to Fix Extension:
1. Briefly stated, what change are you recommending?
2. Why is this change desirable? What values motivate it or needs does it respond to?
3. Who would need to authorize the change (e.g., County Commissioners, Legislators, Extension Admin, etc.)?
4. Whose work will be different because of this change? How are they likely to respond to this change (i.e., will they like it?)
5. Who are the beneficiaries of this change? Who is adversely impacted?
6. What is the sequence of key steps that will be needed to make this change? How long will it take to implement the change?
7. What existing resources could be "re-purposed" to implement this change?
8. What new resources (money, facilities, skills, etc.) are needed to implement this change?
9. How are key external partners (USDA, county commissioners, legislature, larger USU community, etc.) likely to react to this change?
10. What are key assumptions this improvement makes about Extension’s operating environment?
11. Other important considerations regarding this change…
I want to know about your ideas and what you are doing. Please comment below or find me on twitter and lets share. I want to fix Extension (#FixExt) together.
Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
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