Performing and Thriving in disruptive times in Higher Education

We have had hundreds of conversations with people regarding  the current challenges and future opportunities for Higher Education over the past year or so.  There are certainly more questions than answers and the challenge is unevenly felt by many.  There are a lot of elixirs being bantied about, but I believe that few will replace thinking hard, experiencing broadly and coming to recognize your position- and doing something about it.  That is why I am posting this note.
This note introduces a MOOC offered by edX and Lead by Otto Scharmer from MIT. I fully understand the irony, but based on my brief experience with his work, and my wife, Marie’s in-depth work and knowledge, I believe it is worth considering personally or for a larger group of colleagues.

The edX URL is:

Additional information on the course can be found at this URL:

I believe that this material will help to prepare people to better grasp the issues faced by higher education, and “let go” of thinking of the past and be open to emerging- and future possibiities.

In my work in the strategy arena, I find that organizations have a tough time dealing with creating relevant and valuable strategies in disrupted environments. There is too much inertia and sentiment invested in the status quo and the tendency is to think of doing things to merely try to “keep the slope of the existing line”- and extend it. But, since today is the least competitive day you will ever experience in Higher Education, it is probably worth thinking more and thinking harder about how to succeed and thrive in this environment.

At its core- strategy is about winning- where you will place your bets to create a better future for your organization- and how you will allocate resources to energize those strategies. The mirror image of that work is to create a common picture of what the future will hold, really understand the resources that will be required to help you be successful in that future and where you will garner the resources to energize it. In most all times, that means “letting go” of the current thinking and approaches to create the space for new possibilities to be realized.

Given the systemic nature of higher education, it is hard to imagine devising relevant and valuable strategies without solid representation of the knowledge and thoughts of all of the people and elements that exist in its ecosystem- current students, secondary education systems, community colleges, businesses and organizations, adult learners, donors, regulators, alumni, Boards, to identify a few.

Theory U that underlies the course work in this MOOC provides great insight into the current condition and how to come to grips with emerging futures.

As we have discussed strategy at our dinner table over the years, one of the recurring but uncomfortable themes is that in many cases the participants are so focused on existing conditions or locked in their own paradigms that they can’t imagine what might be- and can’t let go to allow new thoughts to emerge and develop. I think the U Lab MOOC can help to build participants’ capability and capacity so that they can be valuable and viable contributors in creating strategies and helping institutions run strategically.

I encourage you to look over this material and consider how you might be able to use it to advance your institution’s place in the world. If you have any questions, I would of course be happy to field them. PMCC Ventures will be arranging a local “Circle of Friends HUB” as noted in the material, and if you want to participate in that, let me know and we will consider your needs as we put it together.

Take Care and Good luck.

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