Crisis Recovery and Transformation

You’ve had a WHOOPS. Now what?

After a crisis, what do you do?  Business as normal doesn’t work – you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

Just ask Dr. Scott Cowen, President Emeritus of Tulane University about what he did following Hurricane Katrina when there was no script for how to deal with what he was facing.  Or the board chair whose university president just received an unexpected vote of no-confidence from faculty. Or the institution who just received sanctions from their accreditor and is forced to fire the president. Or your most effective dean has been accused of sexual harassment.

Responding to an unplanned crisis takes more than just higher ed experience. It takes a broad skill set and a holistic approach to meet the challenges of righting the ship and turning the university around. You must quickly deal with public issues and then fix the problems that caused the challenges. That requires a broad, holistic view of the organization and the leadership discipline and courage to chart the course forward and make the critical changes needed.

Most institutions never recover.  But that doesn’t need to be you.

 

Can you leverage a crisis to get to new levels of trust, relevance, and growth? 

Higher ed faces more and greater challenges than ever.  Some are of its own making such as votes of no confidence, while many result from external forces. All can threaten an institution’s existence.

Here’s the problem: Most institutions aren’t prepared for a crisis, let alone the aftermath and recovery.

When an institution has a crisis, there are three critical things that must happen to get your higher education institution back on track once you’ve “stopped the bleeding.”

  • Communications. Get ahead of the story and do what’s necessary to maintain your good reputation.
  • Stabilize the Situation and Plan for the Future. What’s happened has happened. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. You must now figure out where you can go from here to make this the transformational event instead of one that ruins your institution and its reputation. This requires holistic strategic planning and building a shared vision for the future.
  • Implement Your Vision. You’ve figured out where you need to go and what needs to be done, but your implementing the plan is critical. First, you must answer some questions. Is there an urgency to act? Have you built a guiding coalition to take this forward? Is there a shared vision for what the future looks like? Do you have a solid implementation plan with structures, accountabilities and deadlines built in?

The Change Leader has “been there – done that.” We’ve successfully navigated individual and organizational crises: flying military aircraft in hostile situations …. unexpected leadership transitions … building and implementing turnaround plans … getting your institution off probation after two successive sanction. And this experience and expertise can help you not only recover, but transform your institution.

How do we do this? We work with your team to ensure that the reputational damage is cleaned up with its communications and media specialists, and simultaneously we work with you and your team to chart the course to fixing the issues and transforming the institution. For example, with one recent client who had been put on probation by its accreditor, we worked with them to:

  • Determined what needed to be done across the university to remedy the root causes for their being placed on probation, and developed a comprehensive consensus-based plan to address the discrepancies;
  • Communicated with the accreditor and institutional stakeholders to assure them that the situation was being remedied, and shared with them the plan forward;
  • Built a shared vision across the institution to the solutions;, and
  • Implemented multiple structural and personnel changes that remedied the issues and prevents them from reoccurring in the future, and takes the institution to a new level of excellence.

You have a choice: Struggle or transform.  Because as the saying goes, change is inevitable but growth is optional.