University marketing – a diversity of sorts

It was Seth Godin who described marketing as a contest for people’s attention, and recently I’ve been pondering the different ways which Universities are attempting to grab the attention of potential students, particularly as the looming Federal budget looks almost certain to increase cost for students. The more students are required to pay for Higher Education, the more seriously many of them will take the choice of course and provider, and for that matter consider whether a Degree is even worth it (as I talked about in my last blog post). This pressure will no doubt have University marketing departments hot-to-trot on making sure that their University’s brand is being represented in the most enticing way possible, but across the 43 accredited Universities in Australia offering a highly regulated (and in many cases some would argue largely indistinguishable) product, how are Universities attempting to differentiate?

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MOOCs won’t disrupt Higher Education, employers will

Last week I wrote a post on ‘students as customers’ in the context of a more corporatised, commoditised Higher Education market. It was interesting then to see another post today discussing the emerging trend of employers dropping requirements for degrees as part of their recruitment criteria, instead selecting candidates

based on merit, rather than credentials, often by assessing candidates with psychometric testing or other performance based tests

This caught my attention for two* reasons. Firstly, it returned my thoughts to the student as a customer, and the likely increase in their willingness to leave the Higher Education system (or not engage in it at all) if it is not meeting their expectations – in this case employability. Secondly, it made me reflect on the role of MOOCs, not as a replacement for a degree, but as a potential perceived indicator of merit in a landscape where a degree is no longer a necessity.

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Evaluating leadership through structured team feedback

Creative Commons licensed from Michael Porter - https://www.flickr.com/photos/libraryman/As the year draws rapidly to a close, the thoughts of many a manager turn to that most dreaded of annual tasks – the performance review. Often ignored, frequently monolithic, a good idea that has been lost in translation to some awful Word document template. Dislike them or loathe them, they are out there. Sadly, this kind of prescriptive process can often discourage what should be a worthwhile activity, that of providing some sort of formal feedback to staff on their year in review, hopefully as a supplement to the regular feedback they have been getting throughout the year (wishful thinking, I know).

But what about feedback going the other way from staff given to their managers, particularly in the case of senior level managers?

In my fifteen years of reporting to senior managers or executives, not once have I been asked for formal feedback on their performance throughout the year. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some really good managers (and some bloody awful ones), but not once has any of them given me a formal opportunity to provide structured feedback. This year, to show that I’m willing to lead by example, I’ve set up a formal feedback process to give my senior leaders the chance to share their thoughts on my 2016.

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