The Barthwell Group helps clients develop customized strategic plans which lead to tangible organizational results.

The Barthwell Group Approach

Our planning methodology is focused around five core values:

  • Engaging Stakeholders
    When stakeholders participate in creating the plan, they are more likely to have “buy-in” and to implement its goals and objectives. We routinely engage internal and external stakeholders through a planning committee, focus groups, town hall meetings, and a strategic planning website.
  • Integrating Future Driving Forces
    Our plans encourage clients to think outside of the box by thoughtfully considering the impact of globalization, unexpected disruptive circumstances, technology access, changing demographics, and structural economic changes.
  • Creating a Dynamic Process
    Stakeholders enjoy our strategic planning process. Each session is customized to cause thought-provoking discussions frequently involving interesting presentations and national and local experts as speakers. These sessions also include best practices from peer and aspirational organizations
  • Ensuring Pragmatism
    We integrate our proprietary Tactical Action Planning in our strategic planning methodology to ensure implementation by thoughtful consideration of all of the required resources (personnel, technology, financial, and infrastructure) and embedding accountability.
  • Developing Flexibility
    We recognize that as internal and external environments change, strategic planning goals and objectives must sometimes change. Through annual follow-up visits embedded in our strategic planning methodology, we ensure that plans remain realistic.

Our strategic planning process has enabled organizations realize their visions for the future.

Case Studies

Guiding a State University’s Pursuit of its Vision


The new president of a state university wanted to develop a dynamic planning process which would guide the Institution’s transformation towards more emphasis on research, better operational procedures, greater engagement of all stakeholders, enhanced fundraising, and an improved brand. In short, the president’s vision was to transform the Institution into a “Great University.”

The Barthwell Group Solution

Through monthly meetings with a planning committee of approximately 25 faculty, administrators, students, and alumni, we engaged representatives from a cross-section of stakeholders in developing detailed goals and objectives and specific Tactical Action Plans to ensure follow-up. The plan was enthusiastically endorsed both by the State Regents and the University’s accrediting body. During annual follow-up visits, we were pleased to find that 80%+ of goals and objectives were implemented on schedule.

Creating a Roadmap for a University’s Future Learning System


The president of a mid-sized state university wanted the Institution to focus on planning how it would become focused on enhancing its centers of excellence, downsize nonproductive programs, adapt its learning environment to the competitive demands of the 21st century, and thrive under substantial state budget cuts. Specifically, the president wanted a roadmap that would create a future learning system and a planning process that would focus on academics. The president also wanted to ensure that the new strategic plan was not perceived as “created at the top” which was a complaint about the prior plan.

The Barthwell Group Solution

The Barthwell Group created an innovative, engaged strategic planning process which involved hundreds of stakeholders through monthly meetings with a planning committee (comprised of approximately 40 administrators, faculty, students, and alumni), seven focus groups (meeting at major planning milestones), and a dedicated planning website. During the phased process, criteria were developed collectively for the future learning system and every program was evaluated through open town hall meetings and faculty review to determine their alignment with the criteria of the future learning system. The future learning system included innovative pedagogies, a flexible learning environment, and the thoughtful integration of technology.

Transforming a University’s Key Projects into Focused Centers of Excellence


The law school at a large, state university had several impactful faculty research and outreach projects focused around various themes. Each of the five thematic areas had the potential to become a nationally-recognized center of excellence. However, each was in varying stages of institutionalization, and none was receiving the deserved national / global acclaim. The dean wanted a planning process which would enable institutionalization of these projects into focused centers of excellence.

The Barthwell Group Solution

The Barthwell Group designed a creative, customized planning process to meet the needs of the Law School. First, we conducted an assessment in order to obtain a good understanding of the status of the projects and the associated faculty members’ points of view. Then, working with the dean, we engaged faculty planning committees in frequent, structured planning sessions which resulted in creating institutionalization plans and specific Tactical Action Plans (to ensure follow-up) as well as a strategy to articulate the identity of the new center. Particularly helpful to the Client was our analysis of potential funding sources and collaborative partners which could possibly facilitate the sustainment of the centers.