Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Lawn Chair, a Sparkler, and a Grin

Several years ago, one of my best friends graduated with his MBA.  One night over dinner we discussed the great case study questions of his program and the philosophical concepts of an upper-level business degree.  One of the most intriguing questions was this:   Could a business ever get too big to fail?  At the time, it was simply a question of theoretical gymnastics - it was assumed that we would never have to actually answer such an abstract query with real decisions.


So fast forward a few years and as a young higher ed scholar, I am in a similar position.  I have read often about presidential transitions; beloved leaders retiring to be followed by young, gunslinger, business-minded presidents; faculty discontent; mission and heritage realignment; grandiose vision and strategic plan implementations; gen ed and overall curricular overhauls; layoffs; Provost transitions; Vice President transitions; line-drawing between academic leadership and administrative cabinets; and the great what-ifs of a market-driven educational operation as opposed to a mission-driven educational operation.  

As luck would have it, I have a ring side seat watching each of these case studies coming to life ~ at the same time.  Some dragons are bigger than others...but the rumbling is deep and dark and it feels as if every niche and corner is gearing up for a William Wallace-esque type adventure.    

And I'm soaking it all in, listening as much as possible, watching as much as possible, and being a good steward of the position I currently have.  Metaphorically, I am sitting in a lawn chair with a sparkler in one hand, a hotdog in the other, wearing one of those drink hats with the double straws, and a large smile on my face.

And if my the case studies and literature from other generations and institutions is of any predictive value, we're in for a good show.


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