In an interview with EdSurge, a university strategy and innovation leader gives advice on how to win over stakeholders to big changes on campus.
Michelle Weise is the executive director of the Sandbox Collaborative at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a "research and development lab" at the school that fosters creative ideas and supports pitches to the university's administration. Weise says it has become an "internal consultancy" for the institution.
For example, the Sandbox wrote a white paper about retaining online students for the college of continuing and online education. It also partnered with a venture capital firm to provide seed money to startups.
Advice for leading radical change at your college
However, Weise shares that she has had to overcome some resistance internally, mainly around changes in management and fear of failure. But she was able to win over stakeholders with two key messages:
Incremental change is better than no change. "Lasting and transformative change," Weise says, can come from incremental improvements, not just from disruptive innovation. Though you might be itching to move the process along, Weise points out that it's worth it to check the boxes, set up the meetings, and gather support for the initiative.
How to overcome "new initiative anxiety"
Failure is a part of the process, not a catastrophe. Weise argues that the notion of beta testing is not common at colleges. But, she says, true innovation requires you to take risks and experiment. Weise urges innovation leaders to set these expectations with stakeholders from the beginning of each project (Young, EdSurge, 4/4).
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