Three business people walking through a door in a giant book

Facilitating Meaningful Transformation

Today, our mindset is very preoccupied with thinking back to the situation we were all in a year ago, reflecting on the highlights and disappointments, and now thinking about the year ahead. Last year, the theme for the May 2020 Lawlor Focus issue was “Adapting to Meet the Challenge,” and as we noted then, “Out of crisis comes opportunity—and hopefully, the confidence to do.” We reinforced that due to the reality of the marketplace, individuals and organizations would need to think and do differently.

Words and actions did occur. Upskilling and collaboration happened more frequently. Many campus communities and organizations clearly understood the effectiveness of being a “branded-house team” rather than solely a “house of brands” full of many individuals and not collaborating together. As one person shared with us recently, “intramural squabbles” did occur, but overall, the past year has facilitated more edupreneurial thinking and doing.

Ironically, all of this has been a catalyst for learning more about what other thought leaders are sharing with us about responding to today’s reality, and one of the most informed perspectives is via Charlene Li, author of The Disruption Mindset: Why Some Organizations Transform While Others Fail. She opens her new book with a quote from N.R. Narayana Murthy: “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.”

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We recently had the privilege of participating in one of Charlene Li’s online interactive discussions, and she definitely has an empathetic understanding about the importance of being a leader today and also of engaging in “followership.” She has so many other thoughts and ideas in her new book that are relevant to higher education because so many colleges and universities really are going through a period of time that necessitates disruptive transformation. In many ways, what she references has been discussed many times among higher ed leaders, but ‘talking the walk’ is no longer feasible or viable; the necessity to ‘walk the talk” is the new reality. And as Charlene noted in her closing comments of her book’s introduction, “Never cease believing that what you are doing is worth the pain and confusion that is the natural course of disruption.” Onward and upward!!


The Disruption Mindset

Charline Li’s new book shares insights about a disruptive growth strategy to identify and audaciously seize opportunity. (Source: Charlene Li)

Effect of Plummeting Birthrates

Covid’s effects on enrollment obscure that “a demographic downturn has already been squeezing colleges and universities for a decade.” (Source: Hechinger Report)

All-Time High Discount

The average discount rate for first-time undergraduates reached 53.9% for the 2020-21 academic year, according to NACUBO. (Source: Inside Higher Ed)