Taking Failure to the Next Level

I spent most of the week at the Rutgers Business School attending a conference on the future of graduate business education.  Usually I consider attending a conference a “win” if I leave feeling affirmed about what we are doing along with one good idea I can steal.  I left this conference feeling affirmed with three good ideas I could steal.  No doubt my team will be thrilled with today’s “to do” list.

No doubt the most affirming moment came when a corporate executive said: “Every student needs a course in failure.  It should include how to recover from mistakes, especially how to fire people.”  I had just been explaining our failure competition to a few deans who wanted to steal the concept. (Imitation really is the highest form of flattery.). We looked at each other and smiled.

And so, I’m issuing an RFP to anyone on our faculty interested in developing an undergraduate or graduate course on failure.  I’ll provide some summer support for the winning concept — a two page concept paper is all I’m looking for.  The goal would be to offer the course in the Fall of 2017 and if it goes well, to try to include it in the core for Fall 2018… Either at graduate or undergraduate level, whichever is the most appropriate.

So whose willing to help us take failure to the next level?   

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Free Shipping

People love free shipping. Some see it as the reason to buy more.  Others see it as added value for the same price.  My guess is, if you’re not offering some form of free shipping and you’re in retail it is increasingly hard to stay in the game.

With all the changes going on in higher education, I have often wondered aloud about what could be our version of free shipping… Added value for a face-to-face educational experience at the same price.  I got a few ideas (the Exchange being one) but would like to hear from all of you.  So send me your ideas. Who knows, you just might change higher education in the process.

The Real Victory

This weekend we partnered with the UCF Alumni Association to host a tailgate for 350 fans before the Michigan game.  Both Julie Stroh and I are Michigan alums.  Dr. Hitt was pleased to see us both sporting black and gold.  When I spoke to the crowd, I used my time to put the game in perspective…

When I walked into the Big House in 1977, Michigan was ranked No. 2 in the country and had more wins than any other program in college football history. FTU didn’t have a football team. Today we share the field, and this huge accomplishment couldn’t have been possible without the hard work and support of the people here today.

The institution across the street taught me the importance of greatness. Everyone in the stands today and all the players wearing winged helmets understand that being good, or pretty good, isn’t good enough. The weakness of the institution is reflected in one of my favorite T-shirts you will see around campus. It reads: Maize–A more arrogant shade of yellow.

I don’t know who will win today but I do know two things: UCF’s best days are ahead of it, not behind it. And the real victory, the real victory will come when the dean of the business school at Michigan is a UCF alum. 

I don’t have to tell you that the final score wasn’t pretty. But progress at universities is measured in decades, not football weekends.  And while it is fun to watch our teams compete on the field, the real measure of our success comes from preparing our students to know they can compete with anyone, anywhere (in the classroom, on the field and in shaping the future) and that greatness is always the expectation. Go Knights.

Street Smarts For Faculty

This past week the Ambassadors held sessions in the Exchange designed to help familiarize new students with life in the college, teach them how to connect with faculty and staff and give them tips on how to thrive in the classroom.  We call it “street smarts” and the basic idea is to teach students how to communicate with us by effectively communicating with them in language they understand… the language of fellow students. 

This generational challenge extends to the classroom too where we regularly start out communicating with students in language they understand in the hopes of getting them proficient in the languages we understand… The languages of academia and business.  Effectuating this type of transformation requires professors to use examples that are relevant to their student audience… Things that connect with students’ experiences and they can relate to so they understand the faculty’s perspective.  Conversely, nothing kills learning like a dated example. It makes the professor seem out of date and out of touch. Yawns follow.  Listening stops.

I rediscovered an old resource this week that helped me make sure I was relevant in the classroom.  It’s called the Beloit College Mindset List and you can access it by clicking here.  It reminds us of the things we think are current events or trends that Freshmen students never experienced or see as old hat.  The list is insight into student mindsets.  Items 3 and 10 on this year’s list make me feel sad for them.  Item 49 makes me feel really old.  The list comes out every year and takes five minutes to read, but like a month to process (lol).   Well worth the time. Think of it as street smarts for faculty.