There is no doubt that the past few years have brought extensive changes to higher education. With the pandemic propelling the higher education field into a world of technology, universities have had to adapt, navigating what education looks like post-pandemic and how they can best support their students. As digital transformation projects continue to increase among universities, there has been a shift in thought for the impact that managers and directors have on college campuses and how teams can foster a culture of innovation for university growth. So, why do higher education institutions need change leaders, and what are they? Today, our team of university logistics software specialists discusses the importance of change leaders in higher education and how they play an integral role in the digital transformation process.
What is a Change Leader?
Change leadership provides drivers for almost any organization to help streamline strategy, growth opportunities, and innovation. According to Indeed, change leadership is “a style of management that emphasizes the importance of improvement and adaptability in an organization.” With the influx of new technology, change leaders are commonly involved in digital platforms, social media, technology, response plans, training, and more. It’s important to note that change leadership is not the same as change management but an extension that expands organizational opportunities.
In a recent Forbes article, the “traditional model views change management as an intermittent project, with a discrete beginning and end…the role of change managers is less to push through discrete change projects, but rather to design the organization in a way that enables continuous adaption for an ever-evolving environment.” We know that’s a lot to unpack. In short, modern change leadership puts innovation and adaptation at the forefront, understanding that we are in a society that is driven by change. As a result, change leaders should prioritize adaptability and thought leadership to provide their university with a competitive edge.
What Are the Drivers of Change for Universities?
With an understanding of what it means to be a change leader, the next step is identifying why they are so crucial for universities and what areas you can make an impact in. Higher education author Adrianna Kezar wrote an entire book on eight significant drivers of change for universities. In her book How Colleges Change: Understanding, Leading, and Enacting Change, Kezar leads with the following pillars for university growth:
- Connection to the global economy
- Growing public accountability
- Increasingly diverse students
- More corporatized environment
- Competition and the rise of for-profit education
- New understanding of learning
- Internationalization of campuses
- Innovative technology
These factors are essential for change within a university setting and create a holistic environment for students, faculty, and staff to succeed. This doesn’t just affect success within university walls. Still, these change metrics provide opportunities for staff growth and departmental expansion, extend university resources for students to succeed post-grad, and give universities opportunities to share success stories from the resources they provide.
How to Foster Change Leadership for Your Team
Knowing the steps to change leadership is one thing but taking the time to enact an intentional strategy behind it is another. As an auxiliary director, facilities manager, or another individual in operations management, guiding your team through digital transformation can be a daunting task. There are two areas within Kezar’s eight pillars for change that we believe is exceptionally relevant in today’s higher-ed landscape.
Growing Public Accountability
Undoubtedly, universities have had their fair share of backlash as traditional learning continues to develop. As the labor market becomes smaller, more employers are willing to hire without a degree. In 2018, SRHM reported that 90% of employers were ready to accept candidates without a 4-year degree. In a 2022 Forbes article about Public Agenda’s recent study, less than half of Americans think that the economic benefits of college outweigh the costs.
As change leaders, universities must think outside the box to provide students with valuable resources from a holistic viewpoint rather than just traditional education opportunities. For facilities and operations, this means using tools for building information modeling, biophilic design, and technology adoption to help students identify the total value of their college experience.
We are thrilled that innovation is becoming a driver for university growth. In recent years, the need and desire for innovation across the higher-ed market have expanded significantly. There has even been the creation of the University Innovation Alliance, with fourteen current member institutions across the country prioritizing innovation on their campus, and the results are astounding. The UIA launched chatbots across 11 campuses, saving one campus 840 hours of staff time per year, with 75% of inquiries handled without human intervention.
This innovative technology is not just for student-facing areas of your campus but goes through every area of your campus operation, including facility, operations, and logistics management. With our higher-ed workgroups, including asset logistics, central receiving management, and more, innovative technology like our software, Intra, can provide extensive benefits for your campus. For example, our Asset Logistics Workgroup offers preventative maintenance tools, allowing you to analyze asset lifecycles and develop a proactive maintenance strategy that saves your team time and money. Additionally, our Central Receiving Workgroup goes beyond traditional warehouse organization but provides opportunities for ESG and sustainability expansion through reuse and recycling programs, as well as reducing your university’s carbon footprint.
Be Your University’s Change Leader with SCLogic’s Help
Do you want to be the change leader for your university? We hope so and would love to guide you through the process. Working in facilities and operations, enacting change can be a difficult task. Providing data to stakeholders about ROI and operational expansion needs is a massive step in your digital transformation process, but so worthwhile. At SCLogic, we continuously work to expand our higher education offerings, adapting to university trends and providing solutions for the most complex pain points on college campuses. If you’re ready to take the next step in your higher-ed digital transformation process, email [email protected] to learn more about our workgroups or schedule a demo with one of our team members today.