Colleagues and friends,
What a weekend!
I cannot begin to express my admiration for the Advancement, facilities and dining services teams at Augustana College. There is no doubt in my mind that these professionals are among the finest in the country and their commitment to serving others in unmatched.
Neither a broken elevator in a key building, minor flooding, lightening strikes or even buckets of rain stood in the way of this crew as they worked tirelessly to make sure that alumni returning to campus for Homecoming had a great time.
I witnessed countless displays of cooperation, teamwork and a “we can get this done” spirit. Everyone, especially students working in food services, pitched in, kept an open mind and focused on serving our guests. It was amazing to be a part of it.
While I have no doubt that some of our guests will have some complaints about the weekend, I believe the people of Augustana College did everything possible, under less than ideal conditions, to offer the warmest welcome home possible.
A thought/sight I can’t get out of my mind
This morning I boarded a plane in Chicago. I flew an economy airline, Spirit Airlines, for the trip and noticed right away that the gates are off the beaten path in O’Hare (Terminal 3, L Gates). This was my first experience with Spirit and I sense that they must fly some of the earlier flights out of the airport. The three flights departing from three different gates were crammed together gates at the end of the L Gates and were headed to New York City, Fort Lauderdale, FL and Las Angeles. These three gates attracted an amazing collection of humans!
In a Facebook post that I wrote while standing there, I highlighted that the scene was the United States. While the scene was representative of the this country, because of the diversity—language, ethnic and religious—that was audible and visible, I expect it was really more representative of our world. It was a collection of people going about everyday things with their families, spouses, partners, colleagues or alone.
It was magnificent to see and hear, and to soak in the rich diversity of the airport on this particular morning.
As I stood there and thought about the challenges we face, I was reminded of the 1980’s Depeche Mode song, “People are people” which includes the following lyric:
“People are people so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully”
Maybe it’s time for a remake of this song? Maybe it deserves another listen with today’s ears and in today’s context?
I like early mornings in the airport.
Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)
Major influence: Where students get valued advice on what to study in college—I have provided a link to the overview of a large report, which you can link to, about the influences on a student when it comes to choosing a major and making other education-related decisions. This is worth reading. Perhaps the following line sums it all up, “Put simply, the most valued sources of advice are the least used.” For those of us who have been around for a long time, we already know this. There is no better advocate and advertisement for our colleges than a satisfied student and their parents. But, how do we best influence social networks to make sure messages are clear and accurate.
What do you think? Anything surprise you?
Appealing but ineffective: Why tuition resets aren’t consistently successful—This EAB article by Alex Bloom is one of the best piece I’ve read about tuition resets. The article does not dismiss the value of a reset, but reinforces that it won’t work for everyone, every time. I like the cautions offered because they offer something to the conversation that is often overlooked, specificity. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about tuition resets. I know they work for some. I know the appeal. I don’t have the data to say it won’t work here. But, I think this article helps advance the conversation about the value of tuition resets.
I’ve had some crappy ideas over the year; here’s one.
Several years ago, at Augustana College, I had been doing a lot of reading about generations and leading a team that spanned three generations of (Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials). I’d recognized that each generation responded a little differently to certain suggestion I would make.
For example, when I would suggest that every single student in a particular group needed to be contacted as soon as possible, I witnessed very different actions according to generation.
Boomers would drop everything and take the time needed to individually reach every student. Gen-Xers would work with their team of students to make sure every student was contacted. Millennials sort of looked at me, without a lot of urgency (but politely), and went about business as usual. I was perplexed by it all.
So, I proposed intergenerational, interdepartmental teams of admissions and financial aid staff that I called “micro-teams.” I carefully selected membership to make sure there was representation of each generation and each area. I designed the micro teams to try to create a little competition and to make sure a more nuanced interpretation of suggestions and strategies that I made that I thought might advance the team.
The members of micro-teams humored me for a while and met with some regularity. Some were even pretty creative. However, in the end, micro-teams were a crappy idea.
I think micro-teams were a shortcut to being understood and articulating a clear vision for everyone. Upon reflection, I was outsourcing leadership (not delegating) because I had not figured out how to connect in the right way with each audience. Furthermore, I think I was probably still in a mode of thinking that there is only one correct way to do something and I thought the micro-teams were going to ensure that my view of how to get thing done would get done; I thought my Boomers and Gen-Xers would whip the Millennials into shape. I was stupid and micro-teams were a stupid idea.
I am pretty sure that those folks who are still around Augustana, who were subjected to micro-teams, would agree that they were a crappy idea.
Something for you (and me) to think about
I finally finished Simon Sinek’s “Leaders eat last.” It is an excellent and inspiring book about leadership, leading teams and finding ways to lead. Sinek discusses a number of really important leadership concepts, but his concluding line nails the essence of what it means to lead. He writes, “We must all start today to do little things for the good of others…one day at a time.” Sinek reinforces that leadership is not about position at all. Leadership is about serving others.
If you haven’t picked up a copy of this book yet, please let me know; I am happy to share my copy with you.
P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add them to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday. And, you can read past issues of my musings at my blog @bowtieadmission