Has this happened to you?
In case you missed part 1, click here.
Listen to this post:
Funny how my post got people uncomfortable and I didn’t even name names. It’s something we all have been seeing. Some of you were the man walking in the lobby. Others were the man selling “AMAZING.” Some were the onlookers hoping to see where you could benefit from the transaction.
If you felt like I was poking at you. I kind of was. Because we all are a little guilty of leading higher ed to the mess we are in. We all have been selling and buying the wrong transformation.
- We were afraid, if we didn’t do what others were doing, we would be left behind.
- We were selling because it helped quarterly numbers when we knew the products were not ready.
- We knew, in the long run, the investment would only have a slight linear transformation but it was a cash cow for many.
- The transformation message was driven by self-centered aspirations.
If we all say we believe in higher ed, then safeguard it. Help higher ed with the right transformation. One that’s centered around true value and student outcomes.
It’s telling, I got texts, LinkedIn messages, and phone calls all saying I know the answer of my post but all saying off the record. Everyone was afraid of the repercussions from vendors, schools, consulting firms and peers. They all recognize the spin and what is happening. Now that we are living through COVID casualties, we have to rethink how we operate in Higher Ed.
The past few months, reality has set in.
Let’s just look at the Educause Top IT Issues for 2020. How many of those on the list truly prepared campuses to address the issues that schools faced in March and today?
- Information Security Strategy
- Sustainable Funding
- Digital Integrations
- Student-Centric Higher Education
- Student Retention and Completion
- Improved Enrollment
- Higher Education Affordability
- Administrative Simplification
- The Integrative CIO
Which one of those actually allowed schools to be nimble and sustainable? How many of these campuses can trigger any of these in weeks and not 6+ months.
Most top 10 lists are institution centric and are designed to be adopted in 12 -18 plus months. That won’t work today.
The focus has been on initiatives that provided buzz words for conferences and great papers that showcased delusional value. In reality, it will not enable your campus to be sustainable.
School leaders have to stop taking the easy road and designing your strategy based on conference discussions and fun vendor alcohol filled dinners. Be accountable to your institution.
Many leaders don’t want to do the hard work to design a strategy. When you’re facing enrollment issues, it’s easy to say let’s adopt a technology solution or suggest the cloud. Or plan a costly irrelevant system migration when you have no choice, when you realize you should have modernized your systems before the last legacy coder on earth is a year from retirement.
Schools are going to go out of business because of four reasons:
- They are not “fit for purpose”
- They don’t have a “digital strategy”
- They don’t have an “online strategy”
- They never defined their “brand value”
These are obvious if you look at what will keep you sustainable. It’s time to determine what’s important for your campus and design a strategy based on it.
Finally, the onlookers were the higher ed analysts who sat on their hands. None of them actually guided you to focus on what mattered. Either they didn’t know, which is scary, or:
- Because it didn’t have 6 or 7 digit revenue stream
- Or because their annual industry trends reports were sponsored by the man in the lobby
In the past 8 years, we’ve all seen the lobby of conference hotels with these timeshare discussions to transform higher ed.
Challenge me. Say “Matt—you’re crazy.” I’m open to having these transparent discussions. All we have to do is look at the past engagements, look at the top 10 lists, look at analyst reports. Look at the cloud transition labs that shamelessly wasted people’s time.
Come on, higher ed. Wake up. Stop being a part of the lobby transformations.