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How Can Board Leaders Navigate Change in Higher Ed?

How Can Board Leaders Navigate Change in Higher Ed?

Author and student of leadership Jim Collins, who lectures extensively on the subject of company sustainability and growth, will be addressing attendees at AGB’s National Conference on Trusteeship in Phoenix this April. We caught up with the author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... And Others Don’t and asked him about the future of higher education.  The below is exceprted from the January/February issue of Trusteeship; read the full article here, and read the full issue here.

You’ve written that “change is accelerating, uncertainty is permanent, and chaos is common.” How can board leaders best navigate the change sweeping higher education today?

I would point to four things:

  1. Be rigorous about having the right people on your bus. That is, make sure you have the right people on the board, the faculty, administration, everywhere. Pick your partner to adapt to what the world throws at you.
  2. Practice a 20-mile march to deal with inevitable changes. Those who do well ask a simple question: When you look out 15 years, what is almost certain to have changed? What do we need to do today to march 20 miles a day, no matter what?
  3. Practice productive paranoia. How well you do in difficult times is determined by how you act in good times. If it’s always good weather, you can squander your resources. Always assume there’s a storm coming, that things can be a whole lot worse a year from now than they are today. Productive paranoia means constantly preparing.
  4. Have 15-year big, hairy, audacious goals. What do we want to accomplish that’s huge in 15 years? That allows you to zoom out from the current noise and set your own trajectory.

Learn more about this year's National Conference on Trusteeship and its other speakers and events.

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