Here's to 2022
The last two years in higher ed have been nuts. But really, the last fifteen have been wild. Disruption? Innovation? Resourcefulness? We've seen it all and more.
The highs of 2008-2012 led to decisions that many colleges universities likely regret now. We need to be better at innovating before we are forced to.
The pandemic exposed the best of us - and the worst. A risky business model (for more traditional schools) with an over-reliance on non-tuition revenue (like from skyrocketing housing and dining fees) was exposed when schools went remote. But it was exposed because of the impact to universities - the impacts on students have been largely swept aside. Many of us who work in higher ed are more familiar with furloughs than raises. "Mission-driven" can only compete with rising costs for so long.
As a product-minded person who tries hard to have an agile mindset, I have been thinking a lot about management practices, holocracy, self-organized teams - about how to create a culture where people with power know when to step up and when to get out of the way. Where they understand how to nurture without divesting from the accountability of leadership. Is there an alternative to a paternalistic management structure that looks more like feudalism than freedom?
Running experiments with self-organized teams in higher ed has been fascinating. More on that next time (and on my obsession with retrospectives).