Continuous Improvement and Innovation
Succeeding in this space requires institutions to move quickly, respond to market shifts rapidly, and to be constantly focused on innovating and improving to keep pace with the demands of their environment.
This Special Feature dives into what it takes for institutions to develop and maintain a culture of continuous improvement, sharing articles and interviews by some of the industry’s leading innovators focused on a range of related topics, from how to manage change across an organization from how to move innovation from the periphery to the core.
Establishing a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Focusing on the institution mission, clearly articulating and communicating the vision, and allowing for experimental and transformational spaces are critical ways that institutional leaders can foster an innovative culture on their campuses.
As non-traditional students become an increasingly visible segment of the student population, colleges and universities will need to rely on continuing education units to take a leadership role in innovating to meet their needs.
Building a team that can help evolve a traditionally slow-moving organization into one focused on innovation and change requires a specific mindset and approach from leadership.
Becoming Campus Innovators
Innovation and continuous improvement are critical to the success of modern postsecondary institutions, but the entrepreneurial spirit isn’t common across the industry. There are some key lessons innovative institutional leaders could learn from entrepreneurs.
Institutions can set themselves up for long-term success by ensuring all key stakeholders are intimately involved in the process to make sure everyone is on-board and rowing in the same direction.
Maintaining a Cuture of Change
Creating a culture of continuous innovation requires college and university leaders to become more supportive and invest in staff creativity both financially and emotionally.
Colleges and universities need to focus on ensuring every single element of the experience and product they provide students is relevant to what learners and the workforce needs. Fortunately, this is an area of expertise for the non-traditional divisions embedded on almost every campus across the country.
How to Stay Consistently Innovative
Peter Stokes | Managing Director, Huron Consulting Group and Phil Strzalka | Managing Director in the Higher Education Practice and Leader of the People, Strategy & Operations Group, Huron Consulting Group
By focusing on building out current initiatives and creating efficiencies, all while maintaining an eye on future trends, institutions can build a long-term culture of continuous improvement.
Michael Horn | Principal Consultant, Entangled Solutions & Co-Founder, Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation and Terah Crews | Partner, Entangled Solutions and Lauren Dibble | Engagement Manager, Entangled Solutions
The process of innovation is difficult and unpredictable, but critical to institutional success. Fortunately, there are a few best practices and steps that can be leveraged to help move the process forward.
Moving Innovation from the Margins to the Center
Innovation can flourish on the margins, but for continuous improvement to find success on main campus it requires dedication, commitment and leadership from senior administrators.
As the demographics of higher education shift increasingly towards non-traditional students looking for non-traditional learning models, it’s imperative that institutions understand and leverage the science of successful online programming.
How to Launch Successful Innovative Offerings
Shonda Gibson | Associate Provost and SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison, Texas A&M University-Commerce and James Fountain | Executive Director of the Institute for Competency-Based Education, Texas A&M University-Commerce and Carlos Rivers | Operations Research Analyst in the Institute for Competency-Based Education, Texas A&M University-Commerce
Successfully launching and maintaining an innovative program that defies some of the key elements of the traditional model requires student centricity, data-driven decision making, leadership support, flexibility and faculty involvement—among other things.
Launching innovative programming is a challenge, especially when those offerings differ in almost every way from a traditional, semester-based course or program. An innovative mindset and a problem-solving attitude must be at the forefront of working through those challenges.
The Role of IT in Driving Continuous Improvement on Campus
Bringing IT to the Forefront of Innovation: How to Leverage Technology to Drive Innovation on Campus
IT can play a central role in the transformation of a postsecondary institution, but only if the CIO and his team are given the necessary space to evolve the institutional IT infrastructure.
By focusing on continuous improvement processes and bringing IT into the center of those conversations, it’s possible for a postsecondary institution to be regularly innovating, reducing administrative costs and growing while keeping the needs of faculty, staff and students at the center.
Making Sense of Innovation in Higher Ed
External pressures—financial, demographic and market-driven—are elevating innovation from an option to a priority in higher education, but it’s important for institutions to support innovation as a cultural practice rather than a growth exercise.
While innovation is seen as a side project at many postsecondary institutions, it’s critical to increase the investment in institutional transformation and to provide units charged with experimenting the time and space necessary to take their “moonshots.”
In order to fully embrace innovation in higher education, thought leaders must change cultural preconceptions about innovation, and help faculty, administrators and instructional designers see it as not just a buzzword but as a new status quo.
Overcoming Common Roadblocks to Innovation
Chaouki Abdallah | Acting President, University of New Mexico and Greg Heileman | Associate Provost for Student and Academic Life, University of Kentucky and Terry Babbitt | Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, University of New Mexico
By considering the need for new financial and business models for the university, and then thoughtfully discussing any changes with key institutional stakeholders, it’s possible for university leaders to drive continuous improvement processes on their campuses.
Leaders have a critical and important role to play in driving innovation processes forward on their campuses, helping to move creative concepts all the way from their conceptualization to implementation.
How to Circumnavigate Common Roadblocks in Changing the Status Quo: Some Guidance from Experimental Psychology
Changing minds is hard, but by focusing on new reward and incentive systems to shift behavior instead of stated opinions, higher ed administrators can implement new ideas and minimize faculty resistance to change.
The Lasting Impact of a Continuous Improvement Culture
Continual Improvement is Key to Success: Three Factors to Making it Part of Your Institutional Culture
By empowering staff to support change processes—backed by three key fundamental factors of assessment, transparency and collaboration—institutional leaders can ensure their institutions will be constantly evolving and focused on continuous improvement at every level.
Though there’s a tendency to stick rigidly to the status quo in higher education, leaders can help move their colleagues past it by employing a few critical steps that make continuous improvement exciting.
By maintaining a commitment to continuous improvement and review, CE leaders are able to ensure their divisions are properly resourced, responsive to market demand and primed for growth.