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Five Tips to Launch a New Initiative

The EvoLLLution | Five Tips to Launch a New Initiative
Higher education institutions can be change-averse, but by sticking to these five tips and maintaining passion for change, leaders can launch exciting new initiatives.

As any higher education leader can tell you, there are no guaranteed blueprints to ensure the successful launch of any new initiative, whether it’s a new program, product, department or anything else.

Yet, as a leader who has been involved with the positive launches of more than a few new programs, here are some tips to keep in mind to get—and keep—you moving in the right direction:

1. Upper-level, organization-wide support:

For a new enterprise to be successful, you must have support starting at the top of the organization, including the dedicated fiscal and human resources needed to meet the goal. Another leader once told me, goals are just dreams until they are documented as part of a strategic plan and appropriate funds and resources are allocated. Money makes things happen.

2. Vision must be clear and concise:

The end product, be it a new department, initiative or program, must be clearly articulated at the beginning of the process. All key players need to understand their role in the bigger picture and work together to get to the same end goal.

3. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst (organization and accountability):

A detailed project plan, including a timeline, must be shared and agreed upon with the entire team. Commit to regularly scheduled meetings to ensure momentum and accountability to the project, timeline and budget. When obstacles arise—as they most likely will—time and resources for such factors have already been included in the project plan.

4. Time and patience go hand in hand:

Some projects require “seed time” to allow the idea to germinate across the organization. Once more people are aware of and supportive of the project, it can be positioned broadly as a strategic goal.

5. People can make or break a successful launch:

A key characteristic of a leader is the ability to identify, develop and effectively utilize the talent from the people on their team. Best-case scenario allows the leader to select their roster, but many times the team that is involved in a new project is inherited. Time needs to be allotted for the leader to work within the group, identify skills and aptitudes inherent in their people, plan time to develop competencies for others, and put the right people to work in the right roles. Easier said than done.


If you keep these tips in mind, you will be on the right path to meet your goals. Plan on gathering resource support and buy-in, sharing your vision broadly, identifying and developing talent to support various roles and stay on plan with accountability checks on a regular basis.

Most of all, have fun! The leader’s passion and dedication will be the glue that holds the project together from start to finish.

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