1. Determine what the customer craves and deliver it. In the case of college and university students, there are limits. Balancing student wants and desires with what they actually need to be successful students and engaged citizens can, in fact, be extremely challenging. “The customer is always right” philosophy practiced by many businesses simply does not fit with the mission of postsecondary institutions. Instead, the role of educators is to advance and apply knowledge, facilitate the exploration of ideas, foster cognitive dissonance, prepare students as lifelong learners and productive workers, and even, hold them accountable for their actions or inactions. Ideally, the college experience should be transformational—helping students become the best person they can be. With that said, failing to align teaching methods, curriculum, academic programs, and institutional services with the needs and expectations of students is a perilous path.
2. Create unexpected value. Incumbent institutions tend to focus on known problems (e.g., student attrition causation factors, poor service delivery, cumbersome processes, undersubscribed programs, insufficient class availability). True disruption seldom occurs in this space. Creating value where it did not exist before or was not expected spawns disruption. In the private sector, such intuitive value ideation is seen in Disney’s “Imagineering” the attractions in its theme parks, Apple’s invention of the iPhone, and Airbnb’s alternative to staying with the multitudes at expensive, disturbingly uniform hotel chains. This is what the authors of Blue Ocean Strategy characterize as swimming in the “blue ocean”, where there are few, if any, competitors (Kim, W. C. & Mauborgne, R., 2005). No disruptor is found in the “red ocean” crowded with similar competitors.
3. Avoid being average. If your school is one of the elite, well-known few, with highly selective admissions, it is not average. However, the vast majority of colleges and universities do not fit this profile. They have to find other ways to distinguish themselves. A capstone student experience, an innovative curriculum, guaranteed internship placement or study abroad, digital career portfolios, or a unique pricing model represent just a few examples. While it would be ideal to find something that makes your institution distinctive throughout the nation or the world, that is highly improbable. A more attainable goal is to position your institution uniquely among your direct competitors.
4. Identify the potential for expansion. As it relates to student enrollment growth, expansion opportunities are usually found within one or more of four domains: (1) thorough penetration of your existing primary market, where the institution and its academic programs have a strong presence, (2) the introduction of new programs into your primary market, (3) promotion of the institution and existing programs in a new market, and (4) diversification—new programs and new markets. Each domain has inherent risks and potential rewards. Risk levels are illustrated in Figure 1 and are described here.
Primary market penetration possesses the lowest risk, requires the least investment of resources, and has the fastest return on investment. Depending on an institution’s primary market, this domain also may produce only modest new enrollments. Option two, mounting new programs in an institution’s existing primary market has risks associated with conducting the proper market research to determine student and industry demand as well as market saturation. Another common risk relates to the degree to which new program offerings are adequately promoted. An obvious upside to this domain is that the institution already has visibility in the market. Takingthecurrent program array to a new marketrequires the time and resources to develop a presence where none has previously existed. Sending recruiters to a new territory once or twice a year is woefully insufficient. Creating such visibility requires a sustained physical presence with area recruiters or alumni volunteers, targeted advertising, networking with schools and other organizations in the region, and strategic partnerships. Finally, diversification carries with it the highest level of risk because it involves assuming all the risks of launching new programs in a market with no prior visibility. If executed effectively, however, this domain can generate an abundance of new students.
5. Disruption always comes at a cost. It is true that your institution may create a disruption by leveraging existing technologies and human capital. Yet, no organization can avoid the cultural and real costs associated with unlearning old ways, creating new programs and business models, scaling innovations, or marketing a new approach. These costs must be weighed judiciously against potential benefits of such a paradigm shift. Once a decision is made to pull the trigger, the change process must be managed carefully with the upfront inclusion of key stakeholders.
6. Equate disruption with innovation, not extinction. The rise of educational disruptors can be unsettling. If disruption is simply perceived as a threat to the way of life in the academy or ignored, the results will be devastating for many higher education institutions. Conversely, if disruption pushes college leaders and enrollment managers out of their comfort zone and they reinvent their institutions, the educational experience of students will be greatly enhanced. In a time of creative destruction, the winners are those who exert extraordinary efforts to go beyond traditional norms, which is not always the early adopters of a new educational model or practice.
7. Successful disruptors pursue four disciplines simultaneously. The four disciplines translated into the higher education lexicon include low costs, relational connections with students, program innovations, and rapid time-to-market. Of these, student connections is the only discipline college and universities excel at consistently. To thrive in a future with a seemingly infinite number of nimble disruptive innovators, educators must compete in the other three disciplines as well.
In 1995, psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman published a book introducing most of the world to the nascent concept of emotional intelligence. The idea–that an ability to understand and manage emotions greatly increases our chances of success–quickly took off, and it went on to greatly influence the way people think about emotions and human behavior.
What are my emotional strengths? What are my weaknesses?
How does my current mood affect my thoughts and decision making?
What’s going on under the surface that influences what others say or do?
2. You pause.
pausing helps you refrain from making a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.
3. You strive to control your thoughts.
By striving to control your thoughts, you resist becoming a slave to your emotions, allowing yourself to live in a way that’s in harmony with your goals and values.
4. You benefit from criticism.
When you receive negative feedback, you keep your emotions in check and ask yourself: How can this make me better?
5. You show authenticity.
You know not everyone will appreciate your sharing your thoughts and feelings. But the ones who matter will.
6. You demonstrate empathy.
The ability to show empathy, which includes understanding others’ thoughts and feelings, helps you connect with others. Instead of judging or labeling others, you work hard to see things through their eyes.
Empathy doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with another person’s point of view. Rather, it’s about striving to understand–which allows you to build deeper, more connected relationships.
The annual school superintendent hunting season is open, and as usual, about a dozen cities are jockeying to woo an ever-shrinking pool of qualified candidates for a demanding job that requires one part managerial skills, one part political savvy and one part education-policy acumen for a tenure that, on average, lasts barely more than three years.
To be sure, big-city school superintendents are paid handsomely. In 2014, the salaries of superintendents at cities that are part of the Council for the Great City Schools ranged from $99,000 to $339,000, in addition to platinum health care, pensions, life insurance and other related benefits. Most superintendents of the biggest school districts clear $300,000 easily, with the job of helming New York City schools drawing upward of $500,000.
“Anybody who gets into this knows full well that the demands are extremely high,” Casserly says. “The context in which you do this job now is probably more difficult now than it’s ever been. It does give some people pause.”
My note: what about the quest for consensus? A former library director claimed as foremost goal to improve the work of the librarians – consensus. To the point, when I had to write the library director: consensus in this library means the codification of mediocrity.
A recent study published in Applied Psychology has now confirmed that a collaborative work environment can make top performers–the innovators and hard-workers–feel miserable and socially isolated.
The problem is that rather than seeing a top performer as a role models, mediocre employees tend to see them as threats, either to their own position in the company or to their own feelings of self-worth.
Rather than improving their own performance, mediocre employees socially isolate top performers, spread nasty rumors about them, and either sabotage, or attempt to steal credit for, the top performers’ work. As the study put it: “Cooperative contexts proved socially disadvantageous for high performers.”
This is not to say that teamwork is a bad thing, per se. Indeed, most complex projects require a team to successfully complete. For teams to be effective, though, they need leaders who can swiftly squelch any attempt to isolate or denigrate a top performer.
Presidents believe the business models for elite private colleges, elite private liberal arts colleges and public
flagship universities are viable over the next 10 years. They are less likely to think the business model for
community colleges is viable, and relatively few think for-profit institutions and other private nonprofit
institutions have viable business models.
• Nearly all presidents believe that additional colleges will merge or close this year, with 30 percent predicting that
between one and five colleges will close, 40 percent between 6 and 10, and 29 percent more than 10.
• Thirteen percent of presidents say they could see their own college closing or merging in the next five years.
That is higher than the 9 percent of chief business officers who answered that way in an Inside Higher Ed survey