Impact of Change
Let’s imagine that an unexpected electrical storm causes severe damage to campus buildings structures, and utilities. The campus is inaccessible by motor vehicles due to a fallen tree across the main road. A damaged power line causes electrical failure, compromising communications while students, faculty, and staff are traumatized by being stuck in elevators and rooms with no windows.
It would be difficult to pretend the storm never occurred and therefore still expect classes and operations to resume as normal without first convening cross-campus departments to support the people, assess the damage and risks, reallocate resources, and implement a continuity strategy. However, in some important ways, that is exactly what is happening post-pandemic on many campuses, and as a result it is very easy but very calamitous to push the institution beyond capacity.
Assume that something is broken, find out what it is and repair it.
Prior to COVID-19, institutions were operating with various levels of effectiveness, juggling existing and new initiatives and programs. The pandemic necessitated hybrid programming, technologies, polices, procedures, budget allocations, and systems solutions that were conceived and implemented on a dime and that are now in various stages of normalization or obsolescence.
New legislation and expectations are also creating an overabundance of disparate initiatives that compete for the same limited bandwidth, all of which contributes to diminished capacity of organizations to function, unsustainable work performance expectations and perceptions of uncaring leaders.
Am I saying that it is therefore unrealistic to pursue DEI objectives?
Absolutely not! But, desired outcomes don’t happen until someone actually implements
something tangible, relevant and sustainable that achieves results in a timely and systematic fashion. In the transition between the current state and the desired result is often a very messy middle. Everyone and every organization has a unique response to change, capacity for change and timing for transitioning through change. Without an effective, practical change strategy nothing else matters --not curricula, programs, initiatives, data, resources or commitment alone matters. Ultimately, What we do, why we do it and how we do it matters.