We are taught that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. As such, the contents of a desk drawer can reveal something about a person.
Most people occasionally succumb to their inner, more organized self, and confront their desk drawer. It might involve sorting the objects, some long-forgotten, into piles: toss, leave in, return to colleague. This exercise often reveals a peculiar abundance of writing instruments. Why would a person need more than one pen at any given time, especially with all of our digital accessories?
More importantly, what does this have to do with strategy and higher education?
Those of us in higher education might benefit from a periodic, critical inventory of our educational offerings to assess whether they are still aligned with both internal goals and market needs. Under the unrelenting pressure to grow, innovate and ideate -- what we thought was the best idea at the time might really have just been the equivalent of quickly adding another pen to the drawer.
It could be advantageous for all of us to examine our assumptions to determine if they are worth keeping or need updating. We could download our thoughts about our organization, our industry, or our competitors -- and categorize them: “Yes, that’s still true and here’s the proof,” “That should be updated,” “That just doesn't make sense anymore.”
We may already have the information we need to prove or disprove an assumption. Our own organization and students – admissions data, enrollment numbers, demand patterns – tell a story. Those things could already be in the drawer…and just need to be pulled out and analyzed.
Taking stock of current assumptions and persistent challenges could help to form a sound foundation from which to make strategic decisions based on current data – especially in today’s turbulent times.
“The least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable.” –Paul Broca
So instead of throwing another pen in a desk drawer, maybe that space can be used for something more worthwhile. Like a granola bar.
What assumptions about our industry do you think we might want to clean out of our desk drawer?
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