Securing the Active Commitment of Senior Leadership

The previous section described a number of potential benefits senior leaders might expect from the successful implementation of LHE. The scope of the benefits aligns with many of the challenges in higher education’s future and presents a hopefully compelling rationale for senior leaders to pursue LHE. The current section focuses on what is expected of senior leaders, that is, the institutional commitment needed from senior leaders to successfully implement and sustain LHE.

Presidential Commitment, Advocacy, and Support

The role of the university President is critical to the successful adoption, implementation, and sustainability of university-wide LHE. The Office of the President offers a unique “bully pulpit” for raising awareness, acceptance, and endorsement of LHE principles and practices throughout the university community as well as the authority and power to set and align strategic priorities, allocate resources, change organizational structure, and establish goals and objectives for other senior leaders essential to any large-scale initiative such as LHE. In addition, the personal qualities of the President and the academic community’s respect for this individual provide additional sources of influence that contribute to the success of LHE. Presidents embracing the implementation of LHE university wide will be leading cultural change, a significant undertaking that requires their personal involvement and effort as well as that of their senior leadership team. The level of presidential commitment, advocacy, and support for LHE will help shape the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of faculty and staff toward this new initiative. And recognizing that high levels of presidential commitment, advocacy, and support for LHE alone will not be sufficient to guarantee its success, they do create a positive context during adoption and implementation. Conversely, the lack of - or lukewarm - public commitment, advocacy, and support for LHE by the university President may unintentionally signal that LHE is unimportant and not a strategic priority of the President and his or her senior leadership team.

Before embarking on university-wide LHE, the President (and the governing board) should affirm the following leadership commitment23:

■ Is the senior leadership at the university committed to transforming the institution’s culture and management system to embrace the core principles of LHE?

■ Is the senior leadership team willing to make a long-term commitment to the professional development and involvement of faculty and staff needed for LHE efforts?

■ Is the President (and governing board) committed to providing continuity in the hiring and support of senior leaders who continue to embrace the core principles and practices of LHE?

Affirmative answers to all three questions indicate a context for a sustained senior leadership commitment to LHE. Under the President’s direction, senior leaders can develop a multi-year action plan with specific accomplishments and timeline that align with LHE’s identification as a priority in the institution’s strategic plan. In addition, Presidents (and their senior teams) can use their power and influence to help ensure the success of LHE through a variety of methods, including their active promotion and public support for LHE, personal engagement and participation in LHE, reorganization of the university and other changes to institutional practices discussed in Chapter 4, and allocating the necessary resources to help ensure LHE’s success.24 In all areas, the President regularly and consistently models the commitment, advocacy, and support necessary to implement and sustain LHE university-wide. However, if the answers to the three questions are mixed or tepid, the best institutional path forward may be to defer or abandon university-wide LHE efforts at this moment and consider supporting/piloting a smaller footprint to build some level of institutional experience and success with LHE.

Establish Senior Leadership Interest in LHE

Teach Senior Leaders about LHE. Provide senior leaders with an appropriate overview of Lean and LHE. Table 8.3 provides an example of what this training might include.25 Share a curated set of short but high-quality

Table 8.3 Example of Lean in Higher Education Training Overview for Senior Leaders

What is Lean?

History of Lean

How is Lean used in higher education? Highlights of Lean pillars and principles

Two pillars of Lean

Respect for people/employees Continuous improvement culture

Five Lean principles

Identify beneficiaries and specify value Identify and map the process/value stream Create flow by eliminating waste Respond to pull by the beneficiary Pursue perfection

Why use Lean?

Process improvement and service enhancement Improvement culture

Examples of the success of Lean in higher education

What senior leaders can expect from the successful implementation of LHE What is expected of senior leaders to successfully implement and sustain LHE

articles, book chapters, reports, archived webinars, or web links on LHE chosen specifically for their appropriateness for senior leaders. Share examples of LHE successes and the benefits realized. Conduct focused briefings for senior leaders (applying the A3 format to demonstrate this Lean tool). Invite senior leaders to attend a conference on LHE that has speakers and content targeted toward senior leaders; join the senior leaders and use this time to further their understanding about Lean and LHE. Overall, providing an overview of Lean and LHE to senior leaders can help you ensure they have an appropriate understanding of LHE and dispel explicit or implicit biases they may have about it.

Arrange Communications with LHE Proponents. Schedule conference calls between senior leaders at your institution and similarly situated senior leaders at other universities already pursuing LHE. Collaborate on an agenda for the call to provide coverage of important issues (e.g., history of their LHE journey, what they wished they would have known when they began implementing LHE, challenges overcome). Invite LHE practitioners, researchers, and authors to your campus to meet with senior leaders and share their knowledge and experience. In addition to prepared presentations, provide lots of small group or one-on-one time for senior leaders to ask questions and share their concerns and ideas. Arrange meetings with local business leaders and alumni with experience in applying Lean in their workplaces.26

Schedule Senior Leader Visits to Observe LHE in Action. “Learning by doing” is a preferred approach for developing a deeper understanding of LHE. Arrange for senior leaders to attend some of the scheduled meetings of LHE activities (e.g., scoping meeting, Kano analysis to learn what beneficiaries value and expect, “Report Out” at the end of project) at other universities, pilot projects at your institution, or government agencies and companies in your community outside of higher education. Senior leaders’ actual participation on a successful RIE team (e.g., a pilot project on your own campus) would provide a concrete demonstration of problem-solving and process improvement through LHE. At a minimum, a genba walk could be arranged for senor leaders to observe a process of interest to them (perhaps because of its importance, number of complaints received, etc.) followed by a discussion facilitated by an LHE expert describing how Lean tools would be used to remove waste and impediments to flow to improve the process on any number of metrics. Having the firsthand opportunity to observe a good employee trapped in a bad process that delivers poor value to students, faculty, etc. will build the interest of senior leaders in the need for improvements and the possibilities offered by LHE.

 
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