Leading the Way to Innovation: Pulling It All Together

Learners at Odessa College deserve exceptional learning experiences. We owe this to our students. To ensure that our learners receive the exceptional learning experiences they deserve, Odessa College has.  requirements for full-time faculty that include participating in several hours of professional development activities, as well as participation in departmental meetings and professional learning communities (PLCs) that influence the curriculum, and many other aspects of instruction. As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we examine data on student retention and success each term, and look to improve that data

And though our part-time instructional force comprises more than half of the instructors employed, we do not have any institutional or departmental requirements of adjunct faculty with regard to professional development and meeting participation. In order for our retention and success rates to continue at the level we expect, we must implement a strategy to support our part-time faculty, provide professional development for them, encourage their participation in critical decision-making opportunities (meetings and PLCs), and through a mentoring program. To learn more about this proposed change, please read my blog post Developing a Network of Support for Part-time Faculty at the Community College Level.

In a recent blog post (My Why, How, and What) I discuss the need to implement a Network of Support for Part-Time Faculty at the Odessa College: A Plan for Innovation in Faculty Development

In that post I discussed the reasons this is needed, my Why below, and how we can leverage existing technology (how) to implement the network of support and professional development (what).


Why – We believe that all learners at Odessa College deserve exceptional learning experiences regardless of the employment status of the educator.

How – Through leveraging technology, such as Blackboard Learn (the learning management system, or LMS) and Collaborate, we will provide support and training activities for adjunct faculty

What – We will develop a network of support and professional development that will give part-time faculty opportunities to participate in professional learning communities with their peers, and professional development opportunities that will help them improve their skills and abilities.


For many of us, change is difficult in the workplace. Some employees feel threatened by change, others are intimidated. And others are convinced that the organization has survived as it is, so they may not recognise the need for change. Though I can see the importance of this innovation project, the changes that are proposed may leave others with negative feelings.

To ensure that the proposed innovation can be implemented with minimal resistance from others within the organisation, several strategies will be employed to ensure that the project runs smoothly.

Influencer Strategy

Key personnel who can be influential in effecting the proposed changes have been identified in Influencer Strategies Toward Implementing a network of Support and Development for Adjunct Faculty.

Four Disciplines of Execution

In order to execute the proposed project successfully, 4DX – Four Disciplines of Execution Strategy, I have identified lag and lead measures, and identified responsible teams for the lead measures. Through 4DX, we know that we will need to maintain a regular schedule of meetings to discuss the Wildly Important Goal, or WIG. These WIG meetings will be scheduled weekly, for no more than 30 minutes, and will allow the teams to identify mutual goals and distribute lead measure tasks. The teams will collaborate on the development of a scoreboard, which will help to ensure accountability to lead measures and ultimately the overall goal. The scoreboard will remain prominently visible, and will be discussed in each WIG meeting.

Crucial Conversations

Strategies will be mapped out to identify the path of least resistance. Using strategies from Crucial Conversations, we will face the need for hard conversations, as we encounter those three elements that comprise a crucial conversation:

  • High Stakes
  • High Emotions
  • Differing Opinions

Because the stakes are high, and we have an emotional stake in the decision, and because we are aware that our opinions differ, we know that the conversation will be hard. As we identify the need for the crucial conversation, we will ensure that we are communicating openly, and that we are following the STATE path of Crucial Conversations (Grenny, Patterson, & Swizler, 2012) to:

Share facts (persuade with facts)

Tell the story (explanation of the facts)

Ask questions to understand the concerns of others (and repeat it back to ensure that you are not misinterpreting their words)

Talk tentatively (be sincere, but confident)

Encourage testing (ask for opposing views: Why do they feel it won’t be effective?)

For more about the crucial conversations strategies, refer to my article Self-Differentiated Leadership and Crucial Conversations

 

Leading Change

I truly think this proposal addresses an issue that is close to the hearts of the decision makers on campus: ensuring that our learners are receiving a quality learning experience from their instructor, regardless of the employment status of that instructor. The proposal also has research-based evidence to support it, to appeal to the more analytical side of the decision makers. Through the implementation of strategies described above, my innovation plan to leverage the learning management system as well as synchronous and asynchronous communication technologies to develop a network of support and continuous learning/improvement for our adjunct faculty will become a reality.


References

Covey, S., Huling, J., & McChesney, C. (2016). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York: Free Press.

Friedman, E. H. (2007). A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix. Church Publishing, Inc.

Grenny, J., Patterson, K.,  & Swizler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations: tools for talking when stakes are high.

Grenny, J., & Patterson, K. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change, Second Edition. McGraw-Hill Education.

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