Leveraging Organizational Development and Design to Future-Proof Your Institution

Imagine yourself as an architect for your higher education institution, tasked with creating a structure that not only figures prominently in a busy skyline of peers but also persists — and thrives — through environmental change, challenge, and transformation. 

Perhaps, historically, your institution has excelled at providing traditional, in-person programs across core academic areas. You may have a continuing and professional education unit that offers online programs for nontraditional students, but the core interior spaces of your institution are focused on the campus-based experience. 

The potential for online education at your institution — in signature areas like business, healthcare, data, and science — remains largely unexplored.

As the organizational architect, you face some pivotal questions: How do you create a blueprint that includes and anticipates new spaces at your institution for online education while respecting the “load-bearing walls” of your mission and values? How do you develop the ultimate comprehensive design that will ensure harmony across your organizational landscape, resulting in the desired impact, outcomes, and experiences for your students, faculty, and stakeholders? 

The process involves more than just merging curricula and at-scale automation within a digital platform. It requires careful organizational development and design that incorporates people, processes, and technology. This is the art of building and growing your online student services sustainably by developing the right skills, competencies, infrastructure, and resources, ensuring each element aligns perfectly with the others to create a structure that stands the test of time. 

What Is Organizationational Development and Design? 

Organizational development and design (ODD) is a science-backed methodology that aligns your strategic vision with the operational capabilities necessary to achieve your goals effectively and sustainably, all while honoring the unique cultural fabric and values of your institution.

ODD places people at the center of its framework, understanding that any technological, procedural, or infrastructural enhancements are ultimately in service to the human elements of your institution — be they employees, prospective students, or current students. This human-centric approach ensures that all aspects of the growth and change at your institution are not only technologically sound but also resonate well with all stakeholders involved.

The power of organizational development and design lies in its ability to bring fresh eyes to the table of your institution’s online student services. Often, internal stakeholders are too close to the existing operational modalities to see potential areas for innovation or improvement. 

That’s why working with professionals, such as our strategy and development team at Archer Education, can be valuable. Our partnerships are hands-on and deeply collaborative, designed so that we not only advise our partners but also facilitate a fruitful exchange of best-in-class practices with them.

Our partnerships are about cocreation. Together, we develop a tailored road map that spans every stage from the initial first steps to the ultimate goal state. Then we roll up our sleeves and build that ultimate future state right alongside you. This approach ensures that your team is actively learning and engaging with this transformational process, and that it’s equipped to sustain these changes independently in the long run.

Good, Better, Best: Assessing the Current State of Your Online Student Services

At Archer Education, we address the transformation of your online student services with what we call the “good, better, best” approach. This method begins with a comprehensive discovery phase to gain a nuanced understanding of your current operations, including your university’s marketing, information technology, enrollment, financial aid, registration, faculty, and leadership functions.

Each of these units presents its own set of strengths, challenges, bottlenecks, and opportunities. By conducting in-depth surveys and interviews and gaining context and insights through campus visits, we collect the critical data we need to establish a clear picture of your current landscape. 

We then perform a risk and readiness analysis, which helps us identify areas across the institution that require action to improve their readiness for launching and sustaining online education and student services.

Readiness is not a fixed point but a continuum. At the baseline, we define readiness as “good” — a level where the essential elements are in place for a successful launch. From there, we aim to elevate each area to “better,” or even “best,” depending on the institution’s specific needs and aspirations. This continuum is shaped by our extensive experience supporting colleges and universities at the forefront of online education, and it evolves as we collectively advance in our understanding and capabilities within the industry.

To ensure that we meet our readiness targets quickly and efficiently, we orchestrate and manage work streams that integrate our team with yours. This collaborative effort includes developing an overarching strategic blueprint for your online services, processes, infrastructure, and operating model. 

Additionally, we establish functional, area-specific work streams to address any gaps and reimagine operational efficiencies to best serve your expanding online audience. 

Balancing Mission and Innovation

Many stakeholders at your institution may have strong ties to how the institution has historically achieved its mission. 

But tradition and innovation don’t have to exist in opposition. Achieving a common vision for the future of your institution is a process that demands care and thoughtfulness, often requiring patience, transparency, and, at times, overcommunication and engagement. 

What’s most important is that every member of the university community can clearly see themselves reflected in this new era of higher education offerings. At Archer, we focus on bringing disparate units and functions together with minimal change to foster the “new normal.” This means breaking down silos while simultaneously honoring and upholding the unique culture and values that define your institution.

A pivotal aspect of this transition is determining how to preserve the signature elements that are synonymous with your institution or specific programs. As we help you adapt to meet the needs and requirements of online and nontraditional student populations, we engage in thoughtful discussions on how to integrate these time-honored characteristics into robust, high-quality services designed for a digital-first world.

This balancing act is not about choosing between the old and the new but rather about harmonizing them in a way that enriches your institution’s culture and ethos. 

Take the First Step in Building Your Online Student Services With Archer 

Starting the process to enhance and expand your online student services requires time and dedication. The initial step of assessment and alignment is crucial, as it sets the foundation for all subsequent actions and decisions. By investing in this phase, your institution ensures that each element of your online program is built on a solid understanding of your current capabilities and future goals.
At Archer, we do more than just enable online program growth. We facilitate transformation aligned with your university’s mission, helping you adapt meaningfully to future educational landscapes. Our goal is to equip you with the necessary tools to start strong, continually optimize your online offerings, and ultimately achieve self-sufficiency in managing these services. Contact us today to learn more!

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