Creating Cultural Change

highway sign with the words "Changes Next Exit"

Successful, problem-solving groups, organizations & institutions articulate a sense of the problem they want to solve & employ processes to develop an effective solution. In short, they must know what they want to do & why they want to do it.

They also know how to do it, too. Successful group communication involves convincing your own group that you have the ability & the power & the motivation to bring about the change you want.

At the Strengthening Student Success Conference (#SSS11) I attended last month in Burlingame, Calif., I was pleased to see this topic addressed. Previous conferences had content strands focusing on particular themes. This year’s conference took up a new theme I haven’t seen so explicitly addressed in the previous three versions of the conference: “Leading Transformation on Your Campus and Beyond.”

A couple of off-hand comments I heard at the conference suggested that the sessions of this strand were well-attended (though I don’t have specific evidence to back up that claim). The two sessions I went to were definitely well-attended.

In the first session, Michelle Pilati, Beth Smith & Dianna Chiabotti (the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges) emphasized that bringing about change means, first, understanding the status quo on our campuses (especially paying attention to the obstacles that hinder change).

In the second session, Beth Cataldo (City College of San Francisco) & Robert Rundquist (Chaffey College) facilitated some brainstorming & assessment of strategies for creating cultural change on our campuses.

The SSS conference is meaningful to me because every year I depart from it with ideas I
would like to apply to my own teaching & my own institution. This year was even more meaningful because I left thinking about how to get those changes actually put into place.


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