July 16

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Learning from DeWayne Peevy, DePaul Vice President & Director of Athletics

David Millay

July 16, 2021


You can’t expect your employees to “go above and beyond” if they don’t clearly understand your vision and roadmap. Whether you’re leading an entire athletics department or a group of interns, you must create a clear “destination postcard” for your team. Without painting a vivid, emotionally compelling picture for the future, your team will simply maintain the day-to-day. 

DeWayne Peevy and his team at DePaul Athletics recently created their own “destination postcard” in the form of a new strategic plan. The new strategic plan coming from DeWayne and his team highlights a few different elements. Competitive Advantage, Values, Common Purpose, and Operating Principles, Vision, and Guiding Principles.

If you’re not into all the woo-woo of the different nuances between these things, I get it. If you’re just showing up to work and taking your orders from your inbox, these things are less important. But if you’re trying to take your organization to the next level, if you’re trying to provide meaningful contributions to your organization bigger than just your task, these elements are your roadmap.

Quick highlight on how to actually use these elements in practice:

  • Competitive Advantage – Larger themes to double down on when creating your guiding principles
  • Values – The non-negotiable core charateristics of people you look for when hiring and building your team
  • Common Purpose – Your rallying cry to help motivate and empower staff to do more than just the tasks and responsibilities listed in their job description. We’ve helped many organizations build thier own purpose, don’t underestimate the power of this one.
  • Operating Principles – These can sometimes be referred to as service standards, but they are in priority order and guide practical, daily decision making.
  • Vision – This shouldn’t be current state, it shouldn’t describe what you do. It should describe an aspiration for where you want to go.
  • Guiding Principles – This the is actual plan for how you’re going to achieve that vision. When I worked Disney, we might have called these Annual Operating Priorities.

Helping schools create and bring their strategic plan to life is one of the things we love doing here at EngageMint.

In the conversation that covered setting a vision, creating values, and DeWayne’s leadership philosophy, (see the full show notes) here were three of our top takeaways from the conversation:

Great leaders proactively establish values

DeWayne and his team established not only where they want to go, but how they want to get there. Values are the characteristics you use to hire coaches and staff, and they should be factored into your day-to-day behaviors as you pursue your goals. With their strategic plan, the Athletics department’s values are clearly articulated to staff. By including them in the outward-facing plan, they’re challenging themselves to stay accountable.

Simply creating a vision is not enough; you must communicate it with passion and conviction

DeWayne and his team didn’t just publish a memo. They put the same type of energy and effort into the rollout of their strategic plan as a schedule release. Complete with a press conference/webinar, sizzle video, and high-quality graphics, they’ve labeled the whole plan as “Dream Big.” This language should serve to break staff out of their traditional constraints as they look to innovate. It informs fans they are going to be swinging for the fences. 

Make your vision and values more than a pretty sign on the wall

Yes, DeWayne and his team made gorgeous art for the walls highlighting their vision and values. But in their strategic plan, they have clearly articulated action plans on how to bring each one to life. Items like “create a 5-year revenue generation plan,” or “redesign of DePaulBlueDemons.com, including the launch of a new, official DePaul Athletics app.”

If you’re trying to create your own strategic plan or bring your current plan off the shelf and into life, here are a couple of quick recommendations:

David Millay

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