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We Are NDSU Extension: Coordination and Integration (8/17/2015)

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts to highlight key information about our Extension organization’s culture.

I am relatively new to Extension, having joined the organization on May 1 of this year. In my short time with Extension, I am struck by the diverse audiences that we serve, the many types of programming that we offer based on local needs and priorities, and the many talented, passionate individuals that work for Extension and are committed to creating learning partnerships that help people enhance their lives and communities.

Coordination involves arranging the different elements of an organization to ensure that those elements work together effectively and efficiently. Integration involves a process to unite those different elements into a unified whole or a unified mission. With the size of Extension and the diversity of programs that it offers, it is essential that we periodically assess ourselves to ensure that we are coordinating our resources and that we are all working towards a common, mutually-understood mission. The NDSU Extension Service is too small for staff to be compartmentalized and not working together.

Do employees from different parts of the organization share a common perspective that allows them to work effectively across organizational boundaries? Do people work to eliminate “silos” and promote actions that are in the best interest of the organization as a whole? Do people have the flexibility to work across geographic or organizational boundaries? I hope that the answers to all of these questions is, “Yes.” If the answers to any of these questions is “No,” we need to hear from you.

The good news is that Extension’s culture is very conducive to an environment of coordination and integration. The ELT works in the best interest of the organization and communicates goals and priorities to team members. District directors know the projects that program leaders are working on, as well as the strengths and talents of agents, and they work to ensure that our resources are coordinated at a district and state level. And, we know that agents and specialists routinely work together to offer cross-training and develop programming.

We realize that agents and specialists serve diverse audiences and are constantly faced with the need to juggle competing demands. We want to ensure that people have the resources and training to be successful, and that we are using our time and expertise efficiently to make the best use of limited resources and to meet the needs of our customers. We also want to ensure that we have a culture that encourages us to continually challenge ourselves to break down organizational barriers that lead to compartmentalization. If you see opportunities to improve coordination and integration or a way to break down existing silos, please offer a suggestion to your district director, program leader or another member of the ELT. Your opinion and input matters in Extension!

Next up: Adaptability and creating change

Jim Gray, Northeast District Director

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