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Transformational Change: The Importance of Innovation in 2018

At Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search we are privileged to ​work with skilled leaders. As the new year approaches, we asked what advice they would share with other leaders as we look to 2018. Dr. Anthony Aretz serves as the president of The University of Providence in Great Falls, Montana. Dr. Aretz shared with us about the importance of innovation and change:

​"​I have become convinced, more than ever, that incremental change will not provide the net revenue needed for smaller institutions operating at the margin to be successful. Even with all the financial and leadership help the University of Providence is receiving from Providence St. Joseph Health, this university is being challenged to adapt. Transformative change is hard. It is the most difficult leadership challenge I have had in my career. In the end it is always about people. Institutions build a strong culture and a bureaucratic momentum over time. The existing culture and momentum may not support transformational change. Many have used the supertanker analogy—that changing course of a large system with built up momentum does not happen overnight, even under better than normal circumstances. A university is a large, complex system with many levels of control. You need full power and full steering and a lot of tug boats!

Institutions that need to change need to think big, be bold, and move fast. Jim Collins​' Big Hairy Audacious Goal principle applies here. I also think of the three, moving fast is the most important since current resources will only get you so far and then they run out. To help, institutions need to look for innovative partners, or benefactors, to provide the needed capital to fund big change. If you wait until a crisis presents itself for the opportunity, it is probably too late.