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Business Officer Magazine

Seeking and Securing Changes That Stick

Robin Krakowsky summarizes the major findings in her research of factors that influence an institution’s ability to sustain major upgrades in administrative student services.

In her article “Colorfast Change,” in the December 2009 issue of Business Officer, author Robin P. Krakowsky describes her research study of higher education institutions that have managed not only to implement major changes in the way they administer student services, but to sustain those changes for the long term.

The table that follows summarizes the major findings from Krakowsky's study, which led to the Model for Sustaining Change in Higher Education Administrative Student Services, explained in the print article.

Success in Establishing and Maintaining Sustained Change

 Lessons learned


  • Create an understandable and well-articulated vision.
  • Evaluate the institution's readiness for the long-term commitment that innovative change requires.
  • Be realistic about what is achievable in the organization—fit is important.
  • Secure the necessary leadership with significant power and influence.
  • Be willing to make hard decisions, such as those affecting staffing or reorganizing.
  • Allow sufficient time to undertake initiatives.
  • Plan, plan, and then plan some more.
  • Be prepared to deal with resistance from saboteurs.
  • Develop a mind-set of continuous improvement, with new initiatives originating on the institution, division, or department level.
  • Be positive, pay attention to the details, and celebrate success.

 Challenges faced and
 roadblocks  encountered


  • Loss of the senior administrator responsible for the change initiatives.
  • Inability to implement certain goals, such as changing staff roles or number of positions because of personnel union or other restriction.
  • Delays in securing sufficient funding for human, physical, and technological resources.
  • Senior institutional leaders who are unwilling to support needed changes and reorganizations.
  • Inability to deal with or reassign managers or staff members who are not open and willing to change.
  • Fear and anxiety experienced by employees at all levels.

 Actions that worked

  • Get staff involved in the solution.
  • Provide ongoing communication and be open and frank about what the changes will mean; attempt to answer the question “What's in it for me?”
  • Don't be afraid to acknowledge failures along the way and be flexible enough to modify plans and move forward.
  • Support the staff in every way possible, including providing sufficient training.
  • Secure people on the department level—managers and staff members—who understand, buy into, and will carry out the vision and the momentum for new methods and structures.    

 Benefits received


  • Student satisfaction improved.
  • Staff development and satisfaction increased.
  • Operations became more efficient and effective.
  • Resources were better utilized.
  • New technologies were optimized.
  • More informed decision making and analysis were available because of improved data capability.

ROBIN P. KRAKOWSKY is senior vice president of administration, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island.

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