Professional Development

Final Days at the Institute

Friday, August 8, 2008 5:40 am
Our discussion group at Harvard Faculty ClubOur Discussion Group at Breakfast

Yesterday was another full day of sessions and learning. We worked on two case studies – the first was about the Boston Lyric Opera where we examined how a non-profit organization used a specific tool, the Balanced Scorecard, to improve its organizational performance and outcomes. I could see how this can be a very helpful tool because it provides a framework to detail a complex strategy in a straightforward way. The scorecard puts things into four perspectives, customer, instrnal business, financial, and learning & growth. Each of these perspectives then has four elements to develop: objectives, measures (of success), target, and initiatives.

The second case was an examination of the MBA curriculum change made at Babson College in the late 1980’s/ early 1990’s. We were working with the definition of innovation as being the process of putting new, problem-solving ideas into use. In higher education change is often a prolonged process and this case illustrated all the complexities of the process of implementing substantive change in that framework. We will continue to talk about it in this morning’s session also. A couple things that caught my attention were the contrast in definitions used in this session: creativity as “new idea generation” versus innovation as “new idea implementation.” And the view that “ideas are useless unless used.”

In our afternoon session we turned inward and used and talked about why, personally, change is so difficult. We learned that people typically have “immunity to change.” We spent 2 1/2 hrs working through a specific behavior we would like to change in ourselves (well, call it a self-improvement goal) and examined what is standing in the way of being able to do that. It was like a fast-track therapy session!

As I write this, I just finished packing up my room so I can check out and head off to meet my group for the final morning. We plan to have our last discussion over breakfast at the Harvard Faculty club, so everyone is looking forward to that. The Institute continues until noonish today. Although it seems like I just arrived in Cambridge, it has been a richly rewarding week of learning and reflection.

Next time you hear from me, it will be from Minneapolis where I am heading later to day to meet up with Lauren P. and Kevin. We will be presenting at the Merlot Conference tomorrow afternoon.

One Response to “Final Days at the Institute”

  1. Thanks for sharing all these “learnings” with us, Susan! I’ve heard good things about the Harvard Institute and your experience bears them out.


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