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October 07, 2005

Dr. Ort and Dr. McKinnie on change management and marketing initiative

After evaluating the marketing and change management research we have determined how to strengthen North Carolina Cooperative Extension and position this great organization so that it continues to remain vital and strong and plays a critical role in our state’s future.

To post questions or comments on the initiative, visit the 'Comments' section below.

We believe that Cooperative Extension’s strength is its people. Our hallmark is our statewide educational network that provides citizens with the knowledge, information and skills they need to enhance economic prosperity and preserve our natural resource base. Our core focus will be to use our educational network to disseminate unbiased, research-based information from our universities related to the food and fiber system in the areas of agriculture, food and nutrition, biotechnology, environmental science, and our natural resource base. This focus includes both our unique work with communities, as well as our expertise in working with youth and families to improve their quality of life.

What has been going on for the past 18 months? For a year and half, Extension has been conducting market research and an internal dialogue led by our consultants Carolina PR/Marketing, Inc. to determine our strategic focus for the future. Reaching consensus about the future of Extension is essential to our marketing effort because it ultimately clarifies our identity with the public. But this conversation has also been essential to those of us inside Extension. We have not had a unified strategic view so it has been difficult to move forward together effectively to make a truly powerful impact on key issues facing the state. We now have clarity about strategic direction. We have committed to this direction, and we are ready to move forward. We are adopting the marketing recommendations and are working with Carolina PR to set priorities.

We will work to build a network of relevant programs around this core so that we can have a significant impact -- and wide recognition and support as an essential partner in North Carolina’s progress. Now that the core has been set, our work continues. All of us must be committed to working together to move our organization forward. Extension will build whatever capacity is needed to deliver in our core areas of expertise. Extension Administration will clearly communicate our expectations to you, and we will advocate internally and externally for support as we work together to strengthen this great organization.

Some of you may see this as business as usual. Let us assure you that change is imminent. We are working to create a marketing infrastructure, establish consistent use of the Extension brand in all of our marketing materials, and bundle programs and services around the issues that affect North Carolinians every day. By taking this approach, we will ensure that this state and its citizens recognize and appreciate the value of Cooperative Extension.

Employee Action Teams, involving approximately 100 employees from throughout the organization, are making recommendations that will further define these changes and how they will impact your work. These Action Teams are working to help us define how we:
· measure our performance and impacts
· plan and prioritize our resources
· assign, train and motivate employees
· design and evaluate programs
· communicate and market Extension, internally and externally.

In November, we will review all of the Action Team recommendations. Shortly afterward, we will provide more details about the changes we expect to implement first.

This is an exciting time to be part of Cooperative Extension. All of us have an important role in moving our organization forward. We must do this, and we must do this together. By revitalizing how we do business, we will continue our 91-year tradition of serving as a vital and indispensable partner in providing knowledge and solutions for individuals, families, communities, governmental agencies and businesses across the state.

Extension has a reputation for helping North Carolina weather change. But the future promises to bring more change than we have ever seen before. We must embrace the opportunities that change will bring and let go of the things that hold us back. The work ahead of us will keep us on the road to success.

As your administrators, we look forward to traveling with you on this journey. Only by working together with one mission, one vision and one Cooperative Extension will we be able to ensure a bright future for both Cooperative Extension and North Carolina.

For more information, go to http://intra.ces.ncsu.edu/marketing/

Jon F. Ort, Director
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
N.C. State University

M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Program
N.C. A&T State University

Posted by Natalie at October 7, 2005 08:45 AM

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