Team PRG marks its fourth anniversary September 1. In previous years we have paused to raise a toast in celebration, but as one of our clients recently wrote, “This is a time like no other.”
We work with a great many new and first-time college presidents. Even in good times, taking the helm of a complex, decentralized and highly political organization presents career-defining challenges for new leaders. But in the time of pandemic, these challenges multiply and accelerate, forcing an incoming president to battle unimaginable crises and weigh in on urgent decisions — before the freshly appointed can even set a foot on their campuses.
A recent headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education summed it up aptly: “Welcome to the College Presidency. Oh, the House is on Fire.”
We are delighted to announce that Steve Kloehn, a senior leader in higher education and communications, has joined co-founders Julie Peterson and Lisa Rudgers as a partner in the Peterson Rudgers Group.
An essay published by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania captured our attention: “Overlooking Communication: Why Strategists are Missing a Trick.” It is true in almost every organization we’ve experienced that leaders underestimate how much, and what kind of, communication is needed to move an organization toward a strategic vision.
Authors Mark Leiter and Jeff Pundyk write: “Executives crafting strategy often miss a powerful trick — instead of making communication a top priority throughout the entire strategy development journey, they typically focus on communication only as they approach the final stages of their work.
“This may have worked when things moved slower. With every passing year, however, the available ‘time to decision’ is shrinking while executives are buried in a daily communication avalanche. Cutting through the clutter requires strategic content that is crisp, compelling and inspiring at every point in the strategy process and beyond.”
Let’s face it: change is usually hard for everyone. Yet, in light of the competitive pressures facing colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations, both the need for productive change and the pace of change are growing rapidly. Some observers have even argued that constant change is the new normal for institutions in every sphere of life.
Change is especially hard for mission-driven organizations. This is in part because they have complex matrices of stakeholders, and they depend upon faculty, staff, and volunteers who believe fiercely in the mission and culture. These organizations also exist, as a colleague of mine once astutely observed, not only to break new ground and challenge the status quo but also to preserve and document the past. The sense of tradition runs deep. Continue reading