Monday, October 19, 2009

Intangible Resources

Previous blog posts have described our involvement in the Strategic Horizon Network as one of 13 community colleges engaged in “common learning through uncommon experiences.” I have described our involvement in broad terms and have yet to write directly about one of the Network experiences – until now. The fall Colloquium was titled “Internal Sustainability – Leveraging our intangible resources.” A guiding concept for the 2 ½ day experience was the triple bottom line of internal sustainability – leadership, engagement and stretch. I was fortunate to be joined by a team of ten other faculty and staff from MVCC, which in itself is a powerful professional development experience.

The program followed the normal rhythm of an opening presentation Sunday afternoon that included a conceptual mini-lecture on building a vibrant organizational culture followed by three colleges presenting their approaches to leadership development for their faculty and staff. A reception and dinner closed the evening where we were able to mix and mingle with team members from other network colleges from around the country – California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Monday provided a fantastic presentation that gave us insight into how Zingerman’s has developed an innovative and high performing organization of eight different businesses that carry the same brand of great food, great service and great finances. We spent the afternoon at Greenfield Village – an amazing living history museum created by Henry Ford – where we heard about their approaches to recruiting, developing and retaining a happy and high performing workforce. On Tuesday, we heard a presentation from one of the network colleges on their work with reviewing their processes by collecting and analyzing meaningful data and taking action through courageous conversations and improving their operations one process at a time.

The intensity of the Colloquium and the quality of the presentations and experiences left our heads full of ideas and emotions. I leave all of these Network experiences feeling renewed and inspired about the magic of the work everyone does each day at MVCC. During the past 16 months, we’ve been able to send teams to four colloquia and one team on a learning site visit – providing 31 different faculty and staff with uncommon experiences. The exposure to concepts outside education and best practices from other colleges provides a firm grounding from which to approach the future and rich ideas and notions to pursue here at MVCC. If you have any thoughts on this post, please share them with me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.