Tell all the truth but tell it slant
– Emily Dickinson
You have to love Emily Dickinson and the way she put language to use. Exhorting us to tell the truth, but to tell that story in a way that creates engagement with the listener.
So what’s the truth that you need to tell? And how might you best tell it to bring students, faculty and staff along with you? At rpk GROUP, we are unabashedly finance-focused data analysts. Yet we know that while data is critical, ultimately that data has to tell a story if a campus community is going to get on board with difficult change.
It’s always important to start with the ‘why’ question: Why do we need to change, and why now?
Then, institutional leaders must point to where the institution might go. What we call ‘shared future vision’ at rpk. Only then are campus community members likely to engage around how the institution might achieve that shared future vision.
Moving toward that long-term plan can’t happen without some difficult decisions. Those decisions can be data-informed, however, and can be shared with transparency. And if the institution is willing to move existing resources toward areas of growth and greater net revenue, it won’t have to wait for new resources to move in the right direction.
I saw this recently at an rpk client that clearly had more instructional (and physical) capacity than needed to support current (and likely future) enrollments. That was a truth that had long been untold at the institution.
Only when leadership finally shared the data did the why and the way forward become clear. Now the institution has embarked on a path that better matches its resources with the demand from students and employers.
It’s time to tell the truth at your institution.
But as you do, remember to point to what’s possible under a new shared future vision and then partner with your campus to create the roadmap to get there.