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Good to Great Update - Finding Greatness during Challenging Times

Inspired by Jim Collins’ presentation at the "Good To Great and the Social Sectors," RUSO has embarked on a transformative journey from "Good to Great" by establishing a special committee to help our institutions focus their resources and efforts on what makes them great during tough times. Last summer, we began the Good to Great process at the annual RUSO retreat by having a frank discussion of what Collins refers to as "the brutal facts without losing faith in the potential for greatness." Since the retreat, the facts have become more brutal. Faced with rising costs and growing budget deficits, the timing could not be better to enter the second phase of Stage 2 – Finding Our Hedgehog Concept.

While the wily fox knows many things, the simple hedgehog only knows one thing, but that one knowledge bite is highly impactful in protecting itself against danger. photo credit

Collins’ and Berlin’s argument is that cunning, but undisciplined, foxes of the world are limited by their lack of focus, but hedgehogs persevere and succeed because they align all their efforts and resources to support the one thing they do well. Good to Great organizations are like hedgehogs, simple creatures that know "one big thing and stick to it."

Finding the Hedgehog Concept

Collins contends that every organization’s distinctive hedgehog concept can be found where the answers to the following three questions overlap:

  1. What is your organization deeply passionate about?

  2. What drives your organization’s resource engine?

  3. What can your organization be the best at?

Good to Great and the Social Sectors (p. 19) Used with permission.

Each regional university has a distinct impact on its students, the higher education ecosystem and our state. According to Collins, the process of finding each university’s hedgehog concept will also reveal our non-core values, or things we can let go in pursuit of preserving what makes each university great.

During our January special meeting with UCO School of Business Dean Mickey Hepner, it was suggested that it is now time for us to answer these difficult questions. Given the brutal facts that our universities must stretch their resources even further, the regents and I are committed to helping each university realize its hedgehog concept and preserve the resources needed to support it. These answers will be different for each university and require some thoughtful consideration between regents and presidents.

The committee will be hosting a special session dedicated to helping each university identify its hedgehog concept. We are pairing regents and university presidents together to answer some tough questions and learn what’s vital to each university’s greatness so that we can do our best to help them preserve their great during these uncertain times.

Journey to Great

Collins explains, "Good to great transformations never happen in one fell swoop." For an organization, greatness only can be achieved through teamwork, commitment and persistence in pursuit of a unified vision. The regents and I are confident that with the collaboration of our regional universities, we can align our strategies to promote the greatness of our regional universities and lead our state to more prosperous future.

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