3 steps to strategic planning for campus innovation
- Michael Horn writes for Forbes Magazine about the need for colleges and universities to cut through the surface ideology surrounding innovation in higher education, and to drill down to the elements which help make the academic enterprise more efficient, more diverse in revenue bearing opportunities and more creative in implementing its various missions.
- Calling institutional goals largely "complex," Horn recommends that college leaders clarify objectives for revenue (enrollment, productivity); culture (diversity, community engagement) and growth (student success, links to employers). Determining gaps in the capacity to meet these goals allows for responsible strategic planning, which helps to prevent a school from reaching beyond its own mission.
- He also recommends institutions consider "discovery-driven planning," which requires leaders to itemize desired outcomes, to determine which assumptions must prove true for outcomes to be realized, to plan for how to learn if assumptions are reasonable, and to strategize around proven assumptions.
This approach to university development may work well for Ivy League and large state institutions which have the backing of large endowments, sizable wealthy donor pools and brands within which innovation and potential failure are expected outcomes of business. But for smaller or resource-challenged schools, innovation requires a far more methodical approach to building consensus and investing resources in phases to ensure success.
Innovation in any element of institutional operations requires proof of a problem and the pressing need to solve it. For enrollment, that problem could be a lack of diversity which limits funding and expanded outreach to broader talent pools. For student success, a problem could be low graduation rates which impacts public relations and funding from attrition or changing guidelines from the federal government.
Identifying problems is the key to innovation in higher education, because the institutions themselves are designed to be solutions. That's why many campuses are able to attract resources to establish innovation centers; because they are designed to address deficits in economic development, or institutions being outpaced in research and development. Melding new approaches to problem-solving and framing the mission as the blueprint to solving problems is the key to creating buy-in from diverse stakeholder groups and establishing foundations of longevity.
- Forbes Magazine How universities should manage innovation