Thursday, April 9, 2009

Changing How We Think About Change

I recently attended the American Association of Community Colleges annual conference where a number of sessions confirmed for me that our Strategic Plan is guiding us in the right direction in these uncertain times. A number of sessions underscored just how much change we face as individuals and as community colleges. I saw a presentation that included a pretty interesting video on the speed of change.We know change is all around us in our daily lives when we read the newspaper…online, when we talk to distant relatives through our computer screen using skype – change is now a constant. However, in any organization change is not easy. Change is a blinking word that gets people’s attention. Change sets off internal switches that play against human nature and emotions that strive for stability and predictability.

Today’s most effective organizations are the ones that embrace change. Like my college golf coach once said, "let the wind be your friend - hit the way the wind is blowing, don't fight it, but make it work for you." I've always thought the same about change - work with it and make it your own, at any level. I believe positive change comes from intentionally shaping the future through ideas. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about where new ideas come from at the College and how they get surfaced. If we don't create an atmosphere of inquiry and conversation, our vibrant culture will never reach its potential. If we don't question our processes and find ways to problem-solve through more positive and collaborative means, these rapid changes happening all around us will consume us and pass us by in the next ten years.

Since our vision statement at MVCC speaks to meeting the rapidly changing needs of our community, we must work to reflect those changing community needs – making change an inherent part of who we are as an organization. In its simplest form, I think change comes down to mustering our collective will to make things better and continually working to close that gap between community needs and College programs and services. If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know at presblog@mvcc.edu.