Higher ed insights on our company’s one-year anniversary
We’ve learned so much.
This year we fulfilled a long-held dream after decades in higher education: We launched our own company. Now we consult with presidents and senior leaders on strategy and communication, and our work has been a joy: fulfilling, exciting, creative and launched at a critical time in higher education. Though our client base is quite broad—public and private, large research universities and small liberal arts colleges, associations and boards—these institutions share many common challenges and opportunities that are affecting higher education in 2017. Here are some of the most prominent themes and trends we have observed over the past year:
Summer is retreat season — time for colleges and universities, schools, departments, and centers to go off for a few hours (or days) and plan for the future. While some people enjoy this exercise, many others roll their eyes and anticipate hours of fidgeting while surreptitiously checking their phones.
But suffering is not inevitable. Facilitated well, a retreat can be inspiring, clarifying and productive.
On March 8, the University of Michigan men’s basketball team along with the cheerleaders and pep band members were all on their way to the Big Ten tournament when the unthinkable happened. Their chartered plane, just clearing the ground during takeoff, was caught in high winds. It came down hard and skidded off the runway.
The Atlantic magazine ran a piece on March 2 with this provocative title: “Being Quiet Is Part of Being a Good CEO.” The story was about research by Hal Gregersen, executive director of MIT’s Leadership Center, who interviewed more than 200 senior business leaders to find out what makes them successful at transformational change.
Gregersen notes that leaders become increasingly isolated as they rise higher in the food chain. “The challenge becomes that once people move into leadership roles, they often spend too much time in offices and too little time out on the edge of their organizations where people are voicing legitimate, honest concerns about what’s working and what isn’t,” he said. “We fail to ask new questions when we stop being in different places around different people. When that stops happening, we’re crippled by lack of information.” Continue reading →