Tag Archives: leadership

Why leadership in higher education is like driving a nail through blancmange

A review of:
Turnaround Leadership for Higher Education
by Michael Fullan & Geoff Scott, Jossey-Bass, 2009

I have spent the better part of the last decade trying to understand, from the inside, what makes institutions of higher education change. We all purport to be in the midst of it – change, that is – with strategic visions and plans that call for us to “build on our strengths”  or “define our dreams.”  Let me guess, your institution’s plan says something about…increasing enrolment/graduate enrolment/international enrolment, improving your profile/reputation regionally/nationally/internationally, probably talks about some “pillars” and sets a lofty goal around “improving the overall student experience”, the part that gets us student affairs types all giddy.

And yet, despite all the effort – townhall meetings and consultation sessions, green papers and white papers, beautifully designed strategic plan websites and glossy brochures ­– the returns on investment are often ambiguous, marginal or incremental, and rarely transformative. Continue reading

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Working horizontally in a vertical culture

Organizing Higher Education for Collaboration (jacket) Organizing Higher Education for Collaboration:
A guide for campus leaders
Adrianna L. Kezar & Jaime Lester
Published by Jossey-Bass: A Wiley Imprint. 2009.

If you are interested in improving student learning and engagement on your campus, then you have probably deduced that collaboration is, at least to some degree, the key to success. It inspires innovation, leads to better service, motivates staff, and can even decrease costs. So if collaboration is such a compelling solution to our woes, why, then, is it so difficult to achieve? Adrianna Kezar and Jaime Lester provide some of the answers by studying, in great depth, the organizational culture of institutions that demonstrate a high level of collaboration.

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Learning to “dance through complexity”

Opposable MindAdmittedly, I’m finding it a bit of a stretch to include The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking (2007, Harvard Business School Press) in a blog dedicated to recent literature in student affairs. But author Roger Martin is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s CACUSS Conference so I thought it fitting that I give his book a read in anticipation of the wisdom he might share with us in Waterloo in June. Continue reading