Strategic Management Services


Strategic Management Services

Most higher education institutions (universities and colleges) do some form of strategic planning, either short term (2-3 year) or long term (5-10 year) plan, that suffers from the SPOTS syndrome (strategic plan on the top shelf – gathering dust). This is primarily because most institutions and their leaders do planning as a top-down exercise, not understanding there are multiple purposes behind a strategic plan.

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.”

It is in the planning process that institutions explore their shared aspirations and values, build a shared vision, and mitigate resistance to change.  Too many institutions fail to get buy-in from key stakeholders and faculty during the planning process, which gives rise to resistance to change and failed execution. People want input on decisions that will affect them PRIOR to the decision being made.

The Change Leader’s experts will help you:

  • Put together a planning team that represents your institution’s stakeholders
  • Guide you through the planning process in a way that builds a shared vision across your institution and mitigates resistance to change
  • Put the structures in place to ensure plan implementation

Because, as Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

Check out our library of articles and podcasts on Strategic Planning for Higher Education.


Strategic Management Services


How many institutions threw out their strategic plans in February 2020 due to COVID? All those assumptions about finances and enrollments changed in a heartbeat! In the norm became revenue shortfalls, faculty and employee furloughs, and layoffs. This might not have happened had institutions done good risk and scenario planning.

Risk and scenario planning are the most important (and overlooked) steps in the planning process. These, along with regular updating of the plan (because the assumptions on which the plan was based change), are what make your plan viable over the long term.

Planning is a holistic process, and as part of every strategic planning process we facilitate, we ensure that risk and scenario planning is conducted, and structures put in place for regular updating of the plan and the assumptions behind it. This is the difference between strategic planning and strategic management.

The Change Leader’s experts will help you: 

  • conduct risk and scenario planning to ensure your plan has the longevity it requires
  • put the structures in place to ensure your plan is regularly updated
  • teach you how to examine current and projected trends to ensure your plan remains viable

Check out our articles and podcast on risk planning for higher ed.

Want to find out where you stand? Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation with The Change Leader.




Change Management for Higher EducationInstitution-wide change can’t be accomplished in an afternoon, and anybody who tells you it can doesn’t understand change management, you, or your institution’s needs.  Learn how to make the changes you need to be successful and defy the 80% failure rate on initiatives by mitigating resistance to change before it gets started.

TJ Rogers, in his book No Excuses Management, stated, “most institutions don’t fail for lack of talent or strategic vision. They fail for lack of execution – the routine ‘blocking and tackling’ that great organizations consistently do well and strive to do better.”

Unfortunately, many organizations, and especially education institutions, do not understand how to successfully implement change.  This is the primary reason that 80% of all change initiatives fail to realize the expectations leadership had for them at the get-go.


The Change Leader’s proprietary processes can help education institutions implement sustainable change and realize the results you need and envision. Unlike traditional business consultants that force one-size-fits-all strategies onto their clients, we know education, we take the time to understand your unique needs, and we partner with you to jointly tailor solutions that enable you to achieve a shared vision and mitigate resistance to change that prevents your achieving your goals.


Check out our library of blogs and podcasts about higher ed change management.


Now that you have your plan, The Change Leader can help you implement it by calling on our expert advisors to guide you through putting in place the key elements of your strategies.

Strategic Enrollment Management

Creating sustainable institutions means having strong enrollment systems.  Let our expert admissions and advising experts help you implement the programs that you need to ensure the right number and mix of students are admitted to and remain successful at your institution.

Check out our library of articles and podcasts on student enrollment issues for higher ed institutions.

Strategic Management Services

Registrar and Records Management

Face it.  Most of us hate paperwork, but paperwork and records management, especially in the registrar’s office, are some of the most critical issues that universities must deal with.  Our AACRAO experts can help you navigate the thorniest registrar issues.

Program Development

Plan Implementation Registrar Records Management for Higher Education

Once you’ve decided on your direction, you must implement the plan. Our expert instructional designers and course developers will build you the courses that you need when you need them.



Organizations are like high-performance cars – they need all the parts assembled properly to make them run at peak performance.

The problem is, most institutions don’t hit on all cylinders – they are misaligned, don’t have all the right pieces in place, or the pieces don’t work well together, which results in missing enrollment goals, graduation goals, and/or low morale . . . the list goes on and on. 

The Change Leader can help you get your institution aligned and build the capacity that you need to run on all cylinders, from developing a shared vision to implementing that vision to reorganizing to make the vision a reality, so that it will hit on all cylinders.  We conduct policy and governance reviews to uncover problems unbeknownst to you. We get at the unspoken truths of your institution, identify hidden problems, and implement plans to solve them. With our help, higher education institutions have reduced hiring costs, improved innovation, and boosted employee performance.

Strategic Management Services

Every institution has the potential to achieve sustainable and transformative change; the key is to increase transparency, identify necessary changes, and eliminate the pressures and resistance to change that can short-circuit your initiatives.

After all, why would you want to have your Maserati run like a Corvair? 

Check out our library of articles and podcasts about organizational alignment for higher education institutions.


Distance education consulting | Drumm McNaughton | Changing Higher Ed

There is a revolution taking place in higher education—the face-to-face (f2f) model of delivering classes, used since time immemorial, is being supplemented (and in some cases supplanted) by distance education, online learning, or a blended delivery model.

The new large demographic of students are working adults who require a more flexible schedule than being in a classroom for 7 hours a day.  According to the Gates Foundation, 62% of all students are working full or part-time, 59% of them are commuting students, and nearly 67% are non-Pell Grant students who attend full time. 

Enter distance education, online education, and blended learning. 

In today’s education landscape, 50% of all students will take a distance education / online course during their college careers, and the number who are 100% online is approaching 20% and growing. All higher education institutions should be making changes to meet these new demands, yet many institutions struggle to break free from traditional approaches—even when they put their very existence at risk. 

The Change Leader helps institutions create and implement their plans for distance education, including new programs and/or converting all or part of your current course offerings for online education or blended blended delivery.  

It doesn’t have to be hard.  Let The Change Leader help you develop and implement this “new” way of learning that has changed education forever.


Check out our library posts and podcasts about higher education online and distance learning.


Merging two puzzle pieces college and university mergers and alliances

In the 1980s, 90s, and early 2000’s, corporate America underwent a (painful) transformation called “restructuring,” a euphemism that meant things changed in a big way and many people lost their jobs. There were many reasons for this, including the “opening” of China for shipping manufacturing processes offshore to save money, computers running the supply chain, and the opening of the digital economy.

Higher education never went through those rough times. Until now. We find ourselves with:

  • a decline in the numbers of students due to decreased birth rates and COVID,
  • a change in the demographics of students – the “traditional” college-age student is in the minority, and
  • a declining reputation of higher education institutions, especially with those who identify themselves as Republican.

As a result, higher education finds itself in a mature to declining market as characterized by declining enrollments, lack of differentiation in the higher ed marketplace, and an increase in market consolidation (M&A activity) and/or college closings. There are multiple reasons for this increased M&A activity, that include institutions wanting:

  • New markets / customers / programs
  • New technologies
  • Gain efficiencies in operations
  • Not go out of business / close their doors

This last reason seems to be the big driver in higher ed M&A activity, e.g., we’ve seen a number of smaller colleges and universities under financial stress that are looking for ways to solve their problems through mergers / acquisitions and alliances.

Is your institution considering a merger or an alliance? The Change Leader can help. Our experts will help you:

  • Look for possible partners to partners and/or merge with
  • Conduct culture surveys to see if cultures are complementary (the #1 reason for failed mergers is culture)
  • Help with the accreditation and organization merging, and get the two institutions working as one


Want to find out where you stand / explore your options completely confidentially? Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation with The Change Leader.


Check out our library of posts and podcasts about higher education mergers and alliances.


Many education institutions find themselves in a perpetual funding crisis, relying disproportionally on grants and outside funding to make ends meet, or not having the adequate funds to create new programs that could better meet current and future students’ needs and make them sustainable. We help institutions improve their bottom lines, continue established practices, and pursue new initiatives by developing strong internal grant writing and funding identification processes.

The Change Leader can also help your institution with researching grant funding sources, opportunity analysis, proposal developments, grant writing, and grant management. Additionally, our Grant Writing and Funding Identification services extend into other key financial areas including:

  • Developing budgets with justification

  • Forms completion

  • Identifying sources of financing, including traditional funding entities and alternative funding such as government loans, tax credits, and incentives

Our efforts have helped education institutions obtain funding in multiple areas, including alternative transportation, renewable energy, biomass/biofuels, solar, water infrastructure, information technologies, cybersecurity, geothermal, workforce development, agriculture, human services/housing/HUD, environmental programs, natural resources/trails, community planning/urban greening, children’s services, Tribal, and Military sectors.

Have questions on how to get started? Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation with The Change Leader.


Check out our library of blogs and podcasts about grant writing and funding identification for higher education.

Grant Writing and Funding Identification consulting

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