Operationalizing to Stay Agile: The Beginning of a DiscussionNancy Salzman | Dean of Extended Education, Brandman University
Nimble, agile, entrepreneurial—all adjectives we use to define our continuing education/extended education units. But what does that mean in an era that requires all of higher education to be agile in order to meet the needs and wants of students looking for accessibility, affordability and flexibility? How can we continue to be out in front as proactive leaders providing the services and education needed by our communities while many of us are working with very lean teams?
At Brandman University’s School of Extended Education, we have taken this challenge to mean that we need to look internally and externally and continue to evolve to ensure that we are able to serve with exceptional customer service as we develop new programs, foster new partnerships and explore new ways to create revenue streams. How are we working leaner and stronger? We started by looking internally to determine how to operationalize for efficiency while not sacrificing effectiveness:
1. Workforce development:
We are lucky to have a motivated, creative team made up of individuals who are not afraid to stretch and learn. Together we focused on developing teamwork, interpersonal communication and other leadership competencies that allow us to work together effectively and positively. We advocate workforce development for our communities because we know it makes for a better workforce. Why not start at home?
2. Project management tools:
Outlook task and reminder functions are great but they only provide an individual picture. We needed a project management tool that would allow us to coordinate across our teams and allow everyone to see champions, tasks, timelines, and applicable documents across the entire project. There are several very inexpensive, easy-to-use project management tools. Up and running with minimal training, we now all receive prompts in our inbox and easy access to the documents and contacts we need to stay on top of tasks. Everyone is on the same page because of the information that we keep and can all see within the project management tool.
One of our mottos is to stay away from “one and done.” If we can’t replicate, repurpose, or scale up, then a new program will probably not provide us the ROI required. When building online courses, we build in a modularized fashion so that we can utilize the modules not just in the initial course but also in our custom solutions/corporate training portfolio, in other programs where applicable, and as stand-alone opportunities. Modules are based on a competency or topic. We consider them our puzzle pieces, available for a multitude of solutions.
4. Partner Up:
Our team is a dream team, but we cannot do it all. Even if we could do it all, we do not have that kind of time. Look across your institution and outside your institution for specialized services to augment your team’s capabilities. Our organizational partners have subject-matter expertise and marketing channels. Be creative when looking for solutions.
5. Read, read, read:
Time is short but subscribing to feeds from various news agencies provides windows into the worlds that we are serving. What do your audiences care about? What are they writing about? What are their pain points? What solutions are they calling out? What language do they use to describe their predicaments? Our messaging needs to resonate in order to result in revenue and enrollments. If our prospects know we take the time to read and listen to what they are saying and we talk with them using their language, we are credible.
What are you doing in order to stay nimble and effective? Sharing ideas is one of the best ways to stay on top of our game!
Author Perspective: Administrator