Conventional Wisdom About Leading Change In Education: What Still Holds True And What’s Old News?

Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

We all challenge conventional wisdom about education to shift pedagogy at our institutions. It’s time to challenge our conventional wisdom about leading change. Join us as we try to make sense of all the change in the past year – what conventional wisdom still holds true, and what’s old news?

Extended Abstract

Education change leaders are experts at questioning conventional wisdom in a way that sparks interest, shifts mindsets and creates a better path forward. Whether you’re the lone maverick who seeks to do things the best way simply because they’re the best way, or whether you’re a consensus-building leader working to create momentum to get to a certain tipping point on your campus, you’ve probably got a reputation for challenging conventional wisdom around education models, teaching approaches and pedagogical tactics.

With the acceleration of change we’ve seen in the last year, particularly in education, much of what we thought was always going to be true about leading change has turned out to not be useful at all while some emerging patterns are helping educators be more effective change agents. We have the advantage of working with hundreds of clients through many kinds of changes from micro to macro, and a new conventional wisdom around leading change is emerging.

In preparation for this session, consider your old standby phrases, pieces of advice you’ve either given or received, and concepts you hold dear as a change leader. For us, those are ideas like:

  • Work with the ones who want to work with you, the others will come along in their own time.
  • When you come into an organization as a top-level leader, don’t change anything for the first year.
  • Old ways won’t open new doors.
  • Leaders should carefully craft a compelling vision with detailed strategies and tactics before rolling out a change.
  • Rely upon your lone maverick innovators to influence their colleagues to change.
  • Change comes slowly in higher ed, so be sure you’re in it for the long game.
  • Don’t worry about your laggards/luddites – they’ll come along eventually, or when there is a mandate to adopt.
  • Trusting relationships are the bread and butter of successful change.

In the session, we will share our own conventional wisdom, when we’ve seen conventional wisdom fail in the past year, and what we see as the emerging conventional wisdom for the future. We’ll discuss, debunk, demystify, and ask you to chime in on whether you think our conventional wisdom will hold true, or whether we’re acting on old news. Questions to engage the audience:

  • What is your go-to phrase, cliché or advice about leading change in higher ed?
  • Considering those nuggets of conventional wisdom, which of those nuggets still apply, and which ones do we need to rethink because they won’t work to effectively lead change in our institutions today?
  • What moment or moments in the last year caused you to rethink your conventional wisdom?
  • Which phrases or sayings are you using now that will shape your approach tomorrow, next week and next month?