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Donald Norris, Robert Brodnick, Paul Lefrere, Joseph Gilmour, and Linda Baer (of Strategic Initiatives and more), recently scanned the past 17 years of change in higher education (a highly praised summary, by the way, which you can download here (PDF), and then the current environment for higher education.

This week, they look ahead at opportunities for resilience and transformation.
Transforming in an Age of Disruptive Change: Part 2 (PDF), Planning for Higher Education (2013, v41n2).

(SCUP members can click the link above to log in and download the article for free. Nonmembers may purchase the article on this page for only $3.)

Tags: #ChangeMojo

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Reinventing Practices with the Help of Fresh Partners, Capital and Know How

In Part 2 of our articles/monograph, “Transforming in an Age of Disruptive Change,” our writing team addresses several key issues raised in Part1:

• What do we mean by reinventing strategies, business models, and emerging practices?
• How can institutions get started on cascading processes of consciousness raising, mobilization,planning, action, and assessment to get started then this reinvention done?
• How can institutions marshall the resources, culture, capacity, and know-how for reinvention?
• What would a portfolio of reinvented programs and capacities look like?

What Do We Mean by Reinventing Strategies, Business Models and Emerging Practices? On pages 1-3 we discuss how reinvention needs to take two tracks:

• Track A that focuses on reinvention of the legacy programs and offering of the institution to improve their declining competitive position in a disrupting setting;
• Track B that seeks to discover the truly new offerings and experiences that will be possible after disruption.
This section provides examples of reinvented strategies, business models and practices and suggests how to embed the expectation of reinvention into institutional planning.

Getting Started and Getting it Done. The bulk of Part 2 describes how to realign institutional processes of strategy setting, execution, and capacity building with the imperatives of the Age of Disruption. This requires:

• Creating a sense of urgency.
• Mobilizing a winning coalition,
• Using design thinking,
• Planning from the future backward,
• Combining strategy, organizational development, innovation, analytics, and performance;
• Practicing “radical incrementalism;”
• Enhancing collaboration, sharing and partnerships;
• Executing strategy in an expeditionary manner;
• Making resilience a long-term strategy; and
• Understanding and focusing on your value propositions.

The next five to ten years will require levels of change management beyond the capacity of most institutions. How will they manage?

Marshalling the Resources, Culture, and Know-How for Reinvention. Institutions will need to utilize multiple methods to raise reinvention capital from institutional-based sources: levy a tax on existing programs, institute cost savings and continuous improvement, make reinvention a part of capital campaigns or launch a special campaign, practice reallocation. But they will also need to partner with external enterprises/solution providers to achieve the capital, culture, and capacity (talent and know-how) needed to create breakthrough innovations and deployments. External partners are proving critical to the next generation of solutions, both for reinvention of legacy programs (Track A: Reshape/Reinvent the Core Model) and truly new business models (Track B: Discover New Business Models).

A Quiver Full of Arrows and the Bows to Fire Them. In the Appendix to our paper, we provide a six-page matrix that identifies the six major challenges facing American higher education, and examples of Track A and B reinventions that could address them. Many of these are based on existing, successful innovations that are ready for deployment at scale.

We reviewed this selection with a group of provosts at a recent professional meeting, and their reaction was, “This is an interesting set of arrows, but what am I going to use as a bow?” The point was that institutional leaders have no spare capacity to undertake such reinventions. Their resources are fully booked in delivering legacy programs under the existing paradigm (to borrow a phrase from Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). And the complexity and gravity ofchanging  campus culture from within has made such reinvention problematic.

But reinvention and discovery is happening. Looking around, the energy for reinvention is coming from external partners, bringing capital, the culture to reinvent, and the capacity to improve performance and discover new “killer apps.” Intelligent institutions will utilize this new energy to overcome gravity and achieve their new orbits.  Examples are already evident of institutional leaders capitalizing on this fresh energy.

That 6-page matrix is something I could stare at for hours.

The authors posit 6 challenges, and then for each one list examples of potential initiatives to support Track A (Reshape/Reinvent the Core Model) and Track B (Discover Future Business Model). Put that matrix into a spreadsheet and add some local flavor, and it could become a useful starting place for looking at the future.

The 6 challenges are:

  1. Students and their families can no longer afford a college degree.
  2. American higher education institutions are facing a sea of red ink—declining state support, burdensome institutional debt, unrealistic instructional costs, plateauing tuition revenues, and intense competition for adult learners.
  3. American higher education has failed to assess student learning and performance.
  4. Most institutions lack the organizational agility to meet rapidly changing student learning needs and the needs of the US economy.
  5. Higher education has been unable to leverage technology to truly transform learning and competence building to be more accessible, relevant challenging, and aligned with workforce needs.
  6. Higher education has failed to learn from the disruptive innovations pioneered by the for-profit institutions.

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