Why is Higher Ed Different? is a multi-part series where we’ll be exploring the unique needs and requirements of Higher Ed IT. We’re passionate about Higher Ed and feel that it’s unlike any other industry out there. Whether you’re a newcomer or an industry veteran, it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle-and-bustle and forget to really take note of these idiosyncrasies. Paying attention to them, however, will make a world of difference in your projects.
In our last article, we talked about the major differences in culture between Higher Education and other industries. Now, we’re going to delve into ways that that culture inherently affects you and the various decisions that must be made in Higher Ed. It’s a fact that Higher Ed institutions handle decision-making differently than any other industry. This has a major impact on how you work, from project plans to day-to-day processes.
Decisions Are More Committee Based
Decision-making committees will be made up of a member from each school to represent their needs.
Higher Ed institutions have a strong sense of community permeating their culture, which comes to fruition in the way they handle decision-making. There is a huge emphasis on the group at large, and that means that decisions are extremely committee-based. In a small project or at a small school, this isn’t as much the case, as you’ll likely be working with just one or two representatives from the user base. In larger schools or projects, however, decision-making committees will be made up of a member from each school to represent their needs. The members of this committee act as gatekeepers throughout the project. Working in Higher Ed, it is important to know how to effectively navigate this system.
Decisions Are More Consensus Based
The feedback of the committee will determine the path of your project, but even beyond that, the general consensus matters tremendously. Due to Higher Ed’s strong sense of community, it is natural to want to avoid letting anyone down, meaning that you have many people to please. It is important that general opinions of the university are heard and taken seriously by everyone involved.
You Can’t Make Decisions From the Top Down
Decisions need to be approved across the board.
Unlike in traditional business settings, Higher Ed puts a strong focus on users’ opinions. Faculty opinion, even those not at all involved in your project, are by no means seen as inconsequential. In fact, their opinion matters almost as much as yours and your committee’s. Nobody in Higher Ed wants or is willing to upset faculty. Decisions need to be approved across the board, not by a select few higher-ups.
Decisions Take A Long Time
In Higher Ed, decisions must pass several stages of approval, which means that each decision needs the acceptance of many people. That means decision-making is handled with extreme care, and can take a fairly long time to get from conception to finalization.
It can be difficult to navigate decision-making around various levels of opinion; however, it adds to the inclusive environment. One of the things we love most about working in Higher Ed is that everyone’s opinion matters. It’s what helps to craft the communal atmosphere, and part of what makes Higher Ed such a great field to work in.
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