In the second “Saturday Night Live” mock Bush/Gore presidential debates of 2000, Governor Bush, played by Will Ferrell, was asked to sum up in one word the best argument for his candidacy. Ferrell replied, “strategery,” to satirize Bush’s penchant for mispronouncing words. President Bush (the real one) later used the term himself in what many believed to be a nod to the sketch; he meant thinking and acting strategically in consultation with one’s closest advisors, and he cemented the term in the lexicon of political activity and beyond.
As humorous as the SNL skit may have been, failing to act strategically can be far from a laughing matter, especially considering the way a university parking program is run. In the past several posts in this series, I’ve offered up improvements that include permit allocation systems, organizational alignment, and program management. Here, I’ll cover acting and thinking strategically—or strategery as 43 would call it.
Far too many universities function almost exclusively in a reactionary mode, bending and yielding to the most vociferous and hostile constituent or the one with the most clout. This often results in an exceptions-based approach to managing parking resources that breeds confusion, inequity, and turnover of the staff charged with managing such a system.
Alternatively, parking programs that invest in the development of a strategic plan and have long-standing and broad buy-in to the plan are more successful. Further, these plans must be operationalized by tying daily activities to strategic plans through job descriptions, work plans, and superior and active management and leadership. If each person in an organization knows why his or her job matters and for what purpose they work, positive and proactive outcomes will follow.
The very best parking strategic plans don’t look too far into the future. Ten years is about as far as one can reasonably look into the future with any amount of certainty. The farther out you look, the more abstract the future seems, which makes connecting the plan to what you do today very difficult. Superior parking strategic plans include a capital and organizational plan, financial plan, communications and marketing plan, and accommodation of multiple modes of travel (not just cars). Most importantly, strategic parking plans must be set in the context of shared values so that broad buy-in is achieved and maintained.
No matter what word we use, one key to improved management of university parking resources is through strategic action and having a well-crafted strategic plan can ensure that everyone’s needle is pointed in the right direction.