What's Up in The Academy?
Office Hours wth Dr. De Veau
The Summer is Half Over

The Summer is Half Over

In other words, you still have half the summer to get it done!

You did it, didn't you? You made a list. A summer list. For a day or so, you started hacking away at it -  and then you got a day off (good on you!), and then the coworker you were partnering with on some key projects, they got a day off (good on them!) … but time away from work, new brushfires to put out, and changes in your schedule as the world is opening up only compiled and caused you to lose momentum.  Pre-covid, during covid, ‘post’-covid … doesn’t matter, in Higher Education we consistently treat summer like it is a magical time where we turn into a Loki, enter a void, and bend the timeline. 

We travel in three lanes when it comes to summer project planning: transaction, aspiration and exasperation.  And within those three lanes we find ourselves operating at different speeds, traveling to the finish line at different rates - and at times hoping to get there at all.  

To illustrate: transactional projects are those that are non negotiable and must get done by a deadline, but probably don’t provide you with much personal growth and excitement such as compliance to the government and regulators, annual evaluations, external reports, etc. Aspirational projects align with our desire to make things better for our team, our institution or our stakeholders - and often time feed our desire for individual growth. Projects rooted in exasperation are those projects and priorities that have failed to take off in the past, but which hold a great deal of emotional attachment due to a deeply felt sense of necessity and urgency. 

The past 18 months have only heightened our emotions associated with our work, and this is going to have an impact on how efficiently and effectively work gets accomplished before September 1.

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What Can/Should You Do?

Based on Your List of Projects and Determine Which Lane You are Traveling in. Take out that list and categorize each project type - either, transaction, aspiration or exasperation. If you are working with a committee or a partner, be sure that you are in agreement with them regarding the project type, its lane, and as such what speed, you are traveling in. By doing such, you may eventually shift the outcomes of the project a bit including its deadline and how the project will incorporate with the year ahead (and beyond). 

Is There Room for Growth? Summer can be a time to stretch you and your team to gain experience and competencies that may not be available during the academic year. Consider if there is an opportunity to realign some of the people power dedicated to the projects. By allowing deserving members of the team with the opportunity to reach higher - whether it is related to the work itself, or supervising it, you will be not only spreading the wealth, but you will be gaining organizational capacity into the future. Remember, if you do move someone to one of  your project lanes, be sure that they know when they are expected to cross the finish line, so that expectations are clear. 

Supplement Transaction with Aspiration … But, Re-evaluate Exasperation.  You’ve taken a look at your projects, their lanes, the speed, the deadlines, but before taking a next step, do some motivational consideration - because this may very well help you in revving up your engine toward getting the project done, and feeling good about it when it ends. First, the transactional projects typically have firm, set deadlines, and with that, some external pressure. Pepper these transactional projects with the aspirational ones, which may require some structure and external motivators. The energy you and your team are getting from the accomplishment of the transactional projects may very well feed your energy and sense of purpose of the aspirational projects.  Next, turn your attention to the projects that are rooted in exasperation. As previously mentioned, these are projects that may have failed to launch in the past, and are long overdue. However, now, summer time, may not be the time to try to cajole these efforts to conclusion - rather, they may require more consensus building in order to be successful. 

As some summer projects have suffered with their implementation because of a lack of community involvement and buy-in. Consider if these exasperation-rooted projects would be better positioned as a fall ‘task force’ or ‘working group’ - especially if any of these projects are potentially politically charged. BUT, use the summer to set up the project timeline, set meeting times, even reserve meeting rooms, etc. This will show your partners that you have put real thought into the project outcomes, participation and timing, and want this project to succeed.

In the weeks ahead “What’s Up in the Academy?” will focus on Strategy, Change Management and Personal Renewal. We will share resources from around Higher Education and provide insight into how to make the most of the very short summer season in order to feel like you are ready for the arrival of the 2021-22 academic year. 

THIS WEEK ON OFFICE HOURS WITH DR. DE VEAU: We will be focusing on “Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education.”  Join me at a new Late Summer show time, Wednesdays at 12:00noon - exclusively on the Fireside social audio platform.

What's Up in The Academy?
Office Hours wth Dr. De Veau
Storytelling is the centerpiece of this weekly show. Recorded live through the Fireside App, Dr. De Veau gives listeners the scoop on current Higher Ed news, and hosts guests who can speak to how campus life brought their real life purpose.