I have a sort of fascination with eusocial insects. (I took insect biology for giggles as an undergraduate.) One of the things I learned is some species worker termites crosstrain. They start in one job and will eventually be shifted elsewhere to do other things. They understand how to work in a team environment, towards a goal.
This project is the culmination of over three years of work.. I’ve worked with a bevy of different kinds of institutions: public, private, community college, liberal arts, university, flagship. I’ve interviewed people from literally dozens of institutions public and private too during that time, too. I’ve seen how the community works, their processes and feel like I have a good understanding of how business is being done across the country at schools of all shapes and sizes. I’ve also seen the business from the agency side of things, too. It didn’t start as a fact-finding mission. After all, I was just working. But I took notes and eventually, started to see the parallels and after filling a few dozen notebooks with scribbles, diagrams and references to stuff I’ve been reading; it became apparent I had the makings of some interesting reading.
I picture a hybrid, breathing organization within the large organization. Hybrid teams that are engaged, activated and energized. People armed with insights, data and a more entrepreneurial approach of institutional marketing and communications strategy. They’ll be armed with an authentic message of how their institution changes lives. Rather than the redundancy of people in different departments doing similar tasks towards the same goal, we bring these disparate characters together under an experimental umbrella that serves as beacon that shines across the campus.
I know what you’re thinking. “That could never work here.” “You’re ignoring all of the external factors that make x, y and z nearly impossible.” Trust me, I know that TNT and higher ed have a major thing in common. (They both do drama.) But I’m also convinced that the problems are not borne out of a lack of will for something better, but rather, a lack of a roadmap of how to get there.
While there’s no one way to do web; I’m convinced we’re moving like icebreakers, when we need to move like Coast Guard cutters across the ocean. In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, we’re not being responsive to a tsunami that’s coming and will directly affect the way we market higher education to future students.
We need to become more nimble, more adaptable and reflective of the realities of a shifting economy or else, there will be casualties in the forms of closings, mergers and more cuts. Those will happen anyway. But there are ways to stave off the barrage that’s already underway and it starts with how we communicate.
People play the game in conventional ways, because it’s always been played that way. Also, it’s very hard to agitate change from within a stagnant organization. But outsiders always seem to be able to come in and initiate the changes we need to make. I don’t expect everyone to appreciate it or to warm up to the ideas I’ll be proposing. I’m sure it’s too radical for 90% of the schools out there. To this, I say good. This isn’t a set of mass market ideas, it’s about getting ahead in a competitive environment. It’ll provide you with a platform to build an internal web strategy that works for your college or university.
I’ll spend the week posting a series of videos leading up to the release of the plan I’m calling THE BLUEPRINT a week from Monday.