Eduvation Blog

Let the Best Ideas Win!

From the high tech sector to higher education, one leadership challenge is similar: how do you nurture a culture of innovation in a hierarchical environment?  It’s probably tougher in the public sector, and especially in centuries-old academic institutions with bicameral, colleagial decision-making processes.  But even entrepreneurial firms like Google or Adobe had to wrestle with similar challenges as they grew into tech giants. This week, Ken Steele continues his conversation with Jason Dewling, the president of LaSalle College Vancouver, who offers 5 ways that campus leaders can help encourage a culture of innovation.

1) Increase Risk Tolerance

To have the best ideas, you have to have a lot of ideas, which means some of them won’t work. More innovative higher ed institutions will increase their tolerance for risk, allow people to pioneer ideas, experiment, and accept that some future tweaking will be required.

2) Let the Best Ideas Win

Cultivate your people according to their talents and strengths, and allow open debate and experiment to let the best ideas win.

3) Get Beyond Silos

Develop cross-functional teams so people can learn from diverse perspectives and fresh ideas.

4) Seek Talent Beyond PSE

Leaders need to be deliberate in talent acquisition and development. Instead of rewarding seniority and promoting from within, Jason believes higher ed will be increasingly hiring from other sectors (other sectors of higher ed, but also the private sector) in academic and non-academic areas. (Janet Morrison is a good example, a former VP at York University who was recently hired as president of Sheridan College.  We’ll share our interview with her in an upcoming episode. So you don’t miss it, be sure to subscribe! )

Jason’s own background includes almost 2 decades of experience at public colleges in Alberta. He observes that the LCI Education Network includes 23 private for-profit institutions around the world, but it grew from the foundation of LaSalle College Montreal, part of the public PSE system in Quebec.

5) Structure for Flexibility

LaSalle’s unique advantage frees it from historical structures that traditionally slow down progress in higher ed, so they can be much more responsive and market-driven.  Like industry in all sectors, higher ed institutions need to be change-ready and adaptable.

Dr. Jason Dewling was appointed President of LaSalle College Vancouver in August 2017. Prior to that, he had 17 years of experience at public colleges in Alberta, as VP Academic and Research at Olds College, Associate Dean and Instructor at Olds College. Jason holds an M.Div from Acadia University, and a PhD in Education from the University of Alberta.

Special thanks to the LaSalle College Vancouver Media Arts students and staff, who stayed late to help make us look and sound professional!

Interested in hosting an onsite episode of Ten with Ken?


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