Where are we now?

signpostI’m a great fan of online maps and frequently request directions when I’m going to a new place.  The first thing they always ask is where I’m starting from. In a similar way, choosing a successful path for the  future requires that we know where we are now.

In his last post, Todd said that one of the key elements of leading change is to be able to assess the current state. That means describing where our institutions are in relation to key elements of change, and how that impacts where we want to end up.

The situational awareness worksheet we created with consultant Sarah Bridges (see our blog post of 1/29/14) can be a helpful tool.  Here are some of the questions that can help you assess your current state:

  1. How are demographics of students, staff, and faculty changing?
  2. How are educational technologies changing? What are the potential impacts on teaching?  On how business and student support work is done?
  3. What is the economic environment like? What might be the trends? What are the impacts for my work in the larger economy, or the financial environment within my institution?
  4. What new initiatives are being addressed at the system level? What metrics are being used to determine success?
  5. What are the resources required for my work? What issues will act as constraints and enablers?
  6. What is changing politically and in the regulatory environment that may impact our work?
  7. Are there alternative providers for my services and how do I compare in terms of expertise, service, quality and timeliness?
  8. What are the cultural aspects of the larger environment and their effect on my role (i.e., health consciousness, environmental awareness, social attitudes and values)?

These questions can drive important conversations and clarify the issues to consider as you lead institutional changes. Like a GPS device or an online map, they can help you know how to get where you are going by helping you know where you are now.

Dee Anne Bonebright

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