These are Rudman Consulting’s top ten guiding principles for institutions in a digital age – contact us to discover how working with us could help your Higher Education Institution adapt to the challenges and opportunities of digital disruption!
1. Legitimacy – focus on integrity of core purpose. Shift values from competition, cultures of personality, and resistance to knowledge sharing – to distributed power, people seeking affinity around core purpose, sharing information to build knowledge to deliver the vision and mission. Communication will shift from centre to member to member and member to centre. Energy flows around the network, instead of up and down the structures of hierarchy and bureaucracy.
2. Legibility – make decisions, culture, work readable – create trust to wield power. Make processes more open so people feel less confused and frustrated, and clear about how power is used. Legibility is not about ego it is about decentralised decision making, active participation, openness.
3. Talk together – institutions make sense of people’s needs, demands, circumstances and agree how they ought to behave and reflect that in agreements and rules. Traditional good talking is now good listening, and responding, and learning – online. Its about using your community to inspire change, rather than trying to “take them with you”.
4. Take decisions collectively – collective action previously had to be represented by institutions. Now sustained collective action will happen online, so institutions need to be there and be open, fair and accountable. Make conversations and openness part of the DNA of the institution.
5. Give Power to the Edge – Alberts & Hayes doctrine from the US military is an important design principle for the institution in the digital age. Power to the edge makes an organisation more powerful because it is more agile and using all of its assets, recognising when it can take advantage of fleeting opportunities. Power at the top can’t be sustained in the face of the operating realities of the digital age. New relationships between centre and edge have to formed, bringing all the information and brain power and knowledge together to let the unexpected and unplanned happen.
6. Organise as a networked web of relationships mediated by digital technology – relationship dynamics with customers, external stakeholders, frontline staff are a vital source of suggestions, insight, information, and ideas for improvement (sometimes known as complaints!). Organisational arrangements should be egalitarian – collective circumstances should maximise collaboration, team commitment, and sharing. Contribution will be merited over status. Open source everywhere you can.
7. Learn quickly: rapidly sense change and new ideas, disruptions, innovation; maintain open and responsive lines of communication and conversation across diverse stakeholder group, move quickly and responsively with the edge’s energy, insight and creativity. Find the edge and feed it – be promiscuous in collaboration. Rapid prototype ideas and see the failure of some as inevitable success. Use new data gathering and (AI) intelligence methods to help you make better judgements.
8. Physical space too needs constant reappraisal. A thriving community of ideas and projects requires caretaking, co-locating students, academic researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists – disruption in the style of The Enlightenment. Focus the organisation around needs of knowledge and information flows, storage and capture rather than around the physical asset. Change work spaces to allow for collaboration and modular work – offices are for meeting and interacting. Flexible working because of digital devices and better broadband changes the structure and style of work, as well as the way we work.
9. Do less yourself. Make ecologies with the small. Institutions need to build strong ecologies with micro enterprises and social enterprises – these organisations can stay small, nimble, and autonomous – they are often local – excellent partners for better open innovation, and providers of jobs for graduates.
10. Remember leadership isn’t “in charge” (that’s bureaucratic power). Leadership is less about setting goals and managing them, and more about developing multiple layers of leaders, whose performance will combine results and nurturing the community. Mobilise others to accomplish things. Build quality networks given legitimacy by power and hierarchy. Get comfortable with risk, and comfortable with change – it’s the only constant in chaos!