Up till very just lately, each senior management crew assembly at Augustana School—even people who had been referred to as to handle a particular challenge—began with a COVID-19 replace. The president would flip to our COVID czar, who’s the dean of pupil life, for an replace, asking, “How are we coexisting with COVID?”
The questions have been usually the identical. What number of circumstances? How is the testing protocol going? What’s our quarantine housing capability? How are the scholars doing (mentally, academically, with coverage compliance)? How is the workforce? Can we maintain folks working and totally engaged? What are we listening to from public well being officers, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, and the governor? How are different schools dealing with this or that, and in addition the world excessive colleges? Are we appearing persistently with our values?
We puzzled whether or not the faculty can purchase higher-quality masks for your complete group, or whether or not we would have liked a special public data marketing campaign on campus. We spent an unbelievable period of time excited about communication efforts—posters, social media, reside briefings, weekly electronic mail updates and whatnot.
This had been the sample and rhythm for greater than two years. It’s been nonstop. It’s been exhausting. However it’s by no means been boring. Most significantly, this laser-sharp focus enabled our establishment to successfully coexist with COVID and emerge stronger for the long run.
For a lot of faculty leaders, the work we’ve achieved has been nothing wanting exceptional and possibly deserves extra examine. This brings me to some necessary questions:
- Ought to schools strategy general institutional technique in the identical manner we did coexistence with COVID?
- What if each management crew assembly began with an replace on how effectively we’re implementing our strategic plan, together with a strategic concentrate on how our college students and workforce are doing?
- What if we actively practiced environmental scanning about what rivals are doing?
- What if we have been in full listening mode about what accreditors have been targeted on and what the group’s wants are?
- What if we communicated frequently about our technique implementation and everyone introduced the identical curiosity they’d about COVID-19?
Some are in all probability pondering, “Wait, COVID is a well being and security challenge. It’s about group survival.” True. Coexistence with COVID has been an existential matter, and many people managed very effectively. Actually, many people would get very excessive marks from our stakeholders. We have been all—board members, college members, employees, college students, alumni and oldsters—aligned in our function to outlive as a tutorial group and as an establishment. Everybody wished our efforts to work.
We may strategy a post-COVID world in the identical manner. We are able to make institutional technique the centerpiece and touchstone for what we do operationally for the well being of our establishments. Right here’s how:
- Start every little thing with technique. Everybody knew what we would have liked to do to maintain our group protected through the depths of the pandemic, and we had a simple set of questions. Institutional technique needs to be equally clear. Campus leaders needs to be outfitted to ask an analogous set of questions on technique on the outset of any assembly or stakeholder dialog.
- Empower a method czar. When everyone seems to be accountable, nobody is accountable. Identical to with COVID, schools want a person to whom everybody can flip to grasp how effectively the group is doing in implementing its technique. Whereas there was shared duty in making all of it occur throughout COVID, we all the time knew we may flip to Dean of Scholar Life Wes Brooks to get the newest. There needs to be the identical degree of consolation in a chief technique officer as we emerge from COVID.
- Look exterior your group to the values and wishes of the broader group. One of the crucial fascinating issues about COVID is that the so-called ivory tower was not impenetrable. We wanted steering from public well being officers and public coverage makers. Even when it was murky or counterintuitive, we valued this exterior perspective, paid consideration to the wants of our group and tried to be good companions. Rising from the pandemic, we must be far more in tune with what our group wants from us and the way they count on us to organize our graduates.
- Recurrently ask, how are our college students doing, not simply academically but additionally mentally and emotionally? I’m so happy with how usually we targeted our work on protecting our college students protected and engaged. Your entire campus group rallied round what our college students wanted. Truthfully, we must always focus extra on this query on a regular basis, and it ought to information our technique.
- Likewise, frequently ask, how is our workforce doing? Throughout the pandemic we nervous extra about our workforce than ever earlier than. Let’s not cease now. We have to assume extra concerning the workforce, and people conversations needs to be central.
- Discover the sources to spend with intention for influence. We discovered sources for extra monetary help, an unheard-of quantity of Plexiglas, the nice face masks, face guards, extra community-guidance posters than we’ve printed within the existence of the faculty and all kinds of different issues. Sure, federal cash has helped with a few of this. However we led with the need to speculate, quite than the hand-wringing that sometimes occurs when spending strategically. As we emerge from COVID, we have to observe the observe of sensible and strategic spending, as if the faculty’s survival relies upon upon it.
These are the issues that outfitted schools to reside with COVID. Merely put, we have been relentlessly targeted on managing a posh challenge with a number of impacts in an ever-changing atmosphere, and we did it. Institutional technique and sustainability aren’t any completely different. If schools and universities are to thrive within the years forward, it is going to be as a result of they’ll strategy institutional technique the identical manner they did their coexistence with COVID.
I can’t wait to start each assembly of our management crew with the query “How are we doing with advancing our faculty’s strategic plan?”