Defining Dynamic Transformation

Terra State has used the term dynamic transformation for quite a while now but it seems that pinning down exactly what this means proves elusive. In fact our vision statement is “Dynamic transformation through innovation, collaboration and leadership.” However, if you surveyed our faculty, staff, students and community members would they be able to clearly articulate what this means?

Transformation is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a complete or major change in someone’s or something’s appearance, form, etc.” while dynamic has multiple meanings. The one that best fits what we are attempting to accomplish is “energetic or forceful.” So by combining the two, we have major change that is energetic in nature and that affects the entire way we interact with our environment.

This definition is analogous to another term, disruptive innovation, coined by Clayton Christensen – the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and regarded as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth.

On Friday, September 9, we held our annual fall Convocation which featured guest speakers Fred Baker and Terri Moy from Leading to Change. Their message was clear – change is not easy but it is necessary. We may not like it, it may not be fun and it’s definitely not comfortable, however there are consequences that come when we don’t change.

Their presentation was based on Dr. Dan Phelan’s book Unrelenting Change, Innovation, and Risk: Forging the Next Generation of Community Colleges along with several case studies of businesses that faced changed. Dr. Phelan is the President of Jackson College and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

The first example, Blockbuster versus Netflix was familiar and eye opening at the same time. We all know the basic history but there is something about being forced to really examine the situation that hits home. While Blockbuster was on top of its game in video rentals and their business model worked quite well, it failed to foresee the way people watched movies was changing. No longer did we need to get in our cars, drive to a physical location to walk through aisles in the hopes of finding a movie that looked appealing – we wanted to sit on the couch, browse by typing and not worry about our pick being out of stock. For more information about the Blockbuster/Netflix story, click here to read the Forbes magazine article “A Look Back at Why Blockbuster Really Failed and Why It Didn’t Have To” by Greg Satell.

A second example, Kodak brought lots of reminiscing but again made another clear point – if you aren’t innovative and adaptable, you may not survive.

So what does this have to do with community colleges? This fall, with an estimated 20.5 million students expected to attend American colleges and universities (source) and more 2.8 million bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate’s degrees being awarded this fall (source) but only 22.3 percent of jobs requiring a four-year degree or higher (source), there is an obvious disconnect between what we think we need and what we actually need.

It is clear that what we actually need are more people earning certificates and two-year degrees to fill the jobs available to keep our economy moving forward. Community colleges must find a way to remain sustainable until these perceived and actual needs are equalized.

The obvious question is how do we do this? The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has provided seven recommendations including refocus the community college mission and redefine institutional roles, invest in collaborative support structures, and implement policies and practices that promote rigor and accountability as part of the 21st-Century Commission Initiative.

Terra State is in the process of defining our goals as part of the Vision 2020 strategic plan and during the next few months, I will be writing about how we are planning to remain sustainable while meeting and exceeding our goals related to the AACC’s recommendations. If you haven’t already subscribed to this blog, please do so to ensure you receive the updates as they are posted.