I. Setting the Stage

National Association of System Heads’ Transformation Agenda

Dr. Nancy Zimpher and Ms. Jessica Todtman, MPA

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced immediate transition to remote learning in early 2020, it prompted public higher education leaders to rapidly respond to emerging needs and to rethink their traditional delivery model, putting the health and safety of their students and communities at the forefront. At the national level, members of the National Association of System Heads (NASH) took time to “get on the balcony” to reimagine the role public higher education systems might play in bolstering our communities and strengthening our country. The pandemic exacerbated issues that became drivers of higher education reform, including limited access to health care for vulnerable populations, the overwhelming effects of systemic injustices, and extreme gaps in economic opportunity. NASH saw that its network of higher education systems could build on a tradition of collaboration to increase equitable student success through a concept called “systemness”—leveraging diverse campus assets within and across systems to create value greater than the sum of its parts. Although most easily applied in a system governance model, the pillars of systemness can be leveraged by any network of institutions seeking to maximize efficiency and effectiveness by marshaling their collective resources. Realizing systemness in any setting requires shifting mind-sets and culture away from competition toward collective impact. Under the banner of its Power of Systems agenda, NASH is advancing prosperity for the nation through three levers of systemness-aligned culture change: (1) Improvement Collaboratives that adapt practices from health care to rapidly prototype solutions to shared problems of practice; (2) a Catalyst Fund that disseminates examples of “positive deviance,” where systems are leveraging uncommon but successful behaviors that enable them to find better solutions to a problem despite facing similar challenges and having no more resources or knowledge than their peers; and (3) the Power of Systems imperatives, through which NASH is committed to moving the dial on student completion, upward mobility, and debt reduction by 2030. This chapter includes takeaways for all higher education leaders on how collaboration and continuous improvement can positively affect student outcomes.

The purpose of this volume is to provide direct advice to aspiring higher education leaders. If you have found this handbook, you are undoubtedly familiar with the maxim widely attributed to management consultant Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This means that no matter how thoughtful, thorough, and resourced a plan is, the execution will fail if the implementers don’t have shared norms and assumptions to guide their work and ensure fidelity of outcomes. In this essay, we will explore the interplay of culture and strategy at the level of public higher education systems, which will hopefully provide valuable takeaways for aspiring executives in any role at any level. Throughout, we have interspersed practical and direct tips to support you on your leadership journey.

Adaptive Leadership

As a leader new to an organization, your first job is to listen. Listen to employees, partners, and constituents about what is working and where there are opportunities for improvement. Find ways to bring traditionally marginalized groups into the conversation and build the biggest tent possible, because you only get one chance to make a first impression. Whom you bring to the table to inform your agenda speaks as loudly as whom you exclude.

Through community engagement, you identify specific needs for resources, support, and focused intervention. From feedback and your own experience, you begin to formulate a strategy to address the most pressing issues. More important, you begin to form an understanding of what underpins the organization—its culture.

Tip 1. Beware the office:

When joining a new organization, get out daily. Walk the grounds; stop by other buildings and floors to acquaint yourself with new people and spaces; and pause for coffee breaks. In short order, you’ll want to set up a cycle of visitations that allows constituents to see you around and get familiar with your vision and leadership style. And as always, be sure to listen, listen, listen—you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Remember, people mostly want to know about the terms of engagement under a new leader and understand how they can continue to be successful in a new context.

Culture will necessarily manifest in distinct ways across programs, offices, and teams. Nevertheless, it is observable. You can see it in who attends meetings and who participates and how. You can hear it in the words they use to describe their work and their constituents, or in the silence when you ask an open-ended question intended to solicit new ideas. You can sense it in the level of enthusiasm about the prospect of change. Recognizing these cues and forming an understanding of the existing culture is an integral first step to creating a new shared culture and, ultimately, infusing your vision and strategy into every aspect of the organization.

In April 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced an immediate transition to remote learning at college campuses across the nation, it was clear that a lasting change in higher education was on the horizon. Higher education leaders knew that we not only had to navigate through the crisis, but also create a long-term vision of the path forward for higher education in a new reality. At the National Association of System Heads (NASH), we recognized that it was time to “get on the balcony,” a metaphor from the scholarship of Ronald Heifetz and his colleagues.

In their leadership treatise, Heifetz and colleagues refer to technical problems, which are complex but solvable through applied expertise, and adaptive problems, which are complex with less obvious and direct solutions. Adaptive problems require organizations to identify what is central to their mission as well as what can be abandoned in order to reallocate resources to support innovation in a dynamic environment (Heifetz et al. 2009). Put simply, pandemic recovery would require higher education leaders to rise above daily crises to understand and address the adaptive problems plaguing the sector.

Adaptive problems require adaptive leaders who are open-minded and empathetic and have the capacity to mobilize people to successfully overcome challenges. Having a shared vision, strategy, and culture in place supports adaptive leadership and means that, when faced with the inevitable emergency, everyone knows what to expect and what’s expected of them. No recent challenge has caused as much cross-sector, global disruption as the COVID-19 pandemic. This story follows how the National Association of System Heads partnered with its members to form a shared strategy and culture that would best position them to weather current and future crises. The process used to launch and sustain this effort can be applied to a network of any size, whether as broad as NASH’s 50 member systems or as narrow as the colleges and schools within a single university being incentivized and supported to collaborate seamlessly and maximize resources to ensure student success.

Tip 2. Be yourself:

You were hired because decision makers saw something in you that they felt would improve the circumstances of their institution and its constituencies. Be true to their expectations—which you helped establish during the interview process—and develop personal indications that you understand the cultural economies of the place and time; their dreams and aspirations. For example, wearing the school colors is not just for football games; it’s purposeful. It’s symbolic of your acceptance of the existing culture.

The Power of Systems

The National Association of System Heads represents the interests of the nation’s sixty-five systems of public higher education, which collectively educate six million students, including 75 percent of the nation’s public four-year college students and 40 percent of community college students. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions of higher education were striving to be engines of upward social mobility but struggling to identify which interventions and levers would yield the most positive outcomes. That is why nearly a decade ago, NASH began using a collective impact approach to meet the challenge of expanding equitable access and outcomes. In the social sector, collective impact encourages organizations to boldly pursue what they know works in service of successful outcomes, sharing what they learn along the way. Rather than competing for limited resources and recognition and applying isolated interventions, a collective impact strategy marshals focus on shared goals and coordinated action to accomplish more together than any one actor could alone.

Advancing collective impact, or indeed any strategy, relies on a foundation of supporting cultural norms. While strategy can be tracked through discrete goals and tangible actions, culture implicitly guides activity through shared assumptions and customs (Groysberg et al. 2018). Culture can position us to solve adaptive problems, as it guides how the individuals within an organization will respond to and overcome challenges.

“Getting on the balcony” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a realization that many of the adaptive problems facing higher education could be addressed by leveraging the power of public higher education systems. NASH’s existing network could build on a tradition of collaboration to not only improve education outcomes, but also expand health care, address systemic racism, and strengthen our economy and communities. By working together, public institutions and systems could re-envision and innovate to achieve their full potential on behalf of the students, communities, and states they serve.

To support our collective impact strategy, we relied on our culture of “systemness.” The concept of systemness is that leveraging diverse assets within and across institutions and systems can create value greater than the sum of its parts. That systemness is the fundamental concept that drives NASH’s work is as unequivocal as it is surprising, given its origins. The term as it’s used in higher education was made up by the team crafting Nancy Zimpher’s 2012 “State of the University” address as chancellor of the State University of New York. At the time, it was a clever reference to Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” Little could we have imagined that eight years later systemness would be the clarion call for our sector’s pandemic recovery.

Over an eighteen-month period during 2020–21, a group of one hundred system leaders supported by five design teams developed the “Big ReThink” transformation agenda to harness systemness. This inclusive process—through surveys, focus groups, interviews, workshops, literature reviews, and virtual meetings—enabled NASH members to “chart a course for how systems can leverage their power of scale to serve the changing interests of their students and the pressing demands of society” (Martin et al. 2022). The outcome of this tremendous effort was NASH’s Power of Systems strategic plan, which is a framework for systems to be more intentional and strategic in leveraging their resources and capabilities to support equitable student success and advance prosperity for the nation.

Tip 3. Be inclusive:

You hold the pen on finalizing your strategic plan, but you must respect the art of getting key voices to articulate a forward vision in their own words. You can select the common themes and best ideas from among feedback and observations, but you must—both in appearance and reality—demonstrate that the path forward was crafted by many.

The Power of Systems includes five “imperatives”: learning, equity, talent, investment, and systemness. Each imperative incorporates specific strategies to meet adaptive challenges such as declining enrollment, decreasing state support, racial and socioeconomic gaps in college access and completion, student debt, and inability to meet market demand for a credentialed workforce. The imperatives help guide public higher education leaders in prioritizing and catalyzing their local transformation agendas.

When the Power of Systems debuted at a national conference in December 2021, it received overwhelming support from NASH members, philanthropic partners, and peer beltway organizations, as well as an endorsement from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. NASH had articulated a clear vision for how to efficiently and effectively move the higher education sector forward. With a culture of systemness brewing, it was time to focus on collective impact.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

As previously stated, collective impact demands identifying shared goals and marshaling resources toward proven practices to make progress on those goals. The Power of Systems framework identified three overarching metrics to track the progress of NASH systems toward equitable student success:

  • The degree and credential completion metric depends on a modernized completion metric that aims to capture the complexity of student completion patterns across institutions to account for the variability of student enrollment patterns. This includes shorter term credentials such as certificates and certifications as well as traditional associate and baccalaureate degrees.
  • The social mobility impact metric aims to capture the impact of public higher education systems on student social mobility, with a focus on underrepresented and low-income students. This metric will track the movement of undergraduate completers between income quintiles based on annual earnings.
  • The student loan debt-to-earnings ratio aims to capture the relationship between student debt and the ability to repay based on student earnings. The ratio will track the percentage of graduates with student loan debt in relation to their annual earnings.

NASH convened a Systems Metrics Task Force to finalize the metrics, set benchmarks, and project aggregated 2030 targets for NASH members. The benchmarks and targets were announced in December 2022, with system heads from across the nation standing in support of the three overarching Power of Systems goals.

Tip 4. Process is the new program:

To harness the best thinking of the people around you, create a transparent process that allows stakeholders to articulate their challenges and aspirations, even if it may sometimes seem that they can’t see the forest for the trees. You may consider hiring a facilitator, a group processor, to lead the dialogue so you can more neutrally cherry-pick the best of the ideas you’ve heard at the end of the engagement process.

Our path to national support of these goals is deceivingly simple. During a time of crisis, we took a wide view of our sector’s needs, corralled our best thinking to prioritize values, set strategies, and identified goals. What makes this so remarkable is that NASH members’ commitment to achieving equitable student success by 2030 is the first national goal-setting for higher education since President Obama’s 2009 college completion moon shot. His aspiration was that by 2020, the United States would be the nation with the largest proportion of citizens who are college graduates. As philanthropies and non-profits lined up to support Obama’s moon shot and layered on their own attainment goals, degree completion rates in other nations rose at rates nearly double America’s (Kelderman 2020). Now, public higher education systems are taking the narrative into their own hands.

Although rare at the national level, benchmarking data and setting targets are frequently undertaken at the institution and state level through performance management and population attainment goals. To seed and sustain progress toward those goals with a systemness mind-set, data must be disaggregated, variables isolated, and interim goals set so that every faculty member, dean, and administrator knows their role and what targets they need to meet at the “local” level to contribute to institution-level progress.

Systemness at Scale

The Power of Systems goals around degree and credential completion, social mobility, and student loan debt are not for NASH to achieve as an organization, but rather for NASH to support our members toward achieving. This is much like our members that have set attainment goals at the system or state level that ultimately their institutions must meet. As we like to say, systems don’t educate students, campuses do. NASH provides members with supports geared toward accelerating systemness with a focus on system offices being first of service to their institutions, rather than traditional roles of allocator, compliance officer, or overseer.

Similarly, NASH strives to be of service to our members and give them tools and resources to maximize their collective impact.

Tip 5: Go fish:

Like the adage, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Organized change must be driven by methodology. At NASH, this methodology is improvement science because it teaches us how to test interventions, study outcomes, and adjust as needed to reach the intended result. Without a proven methodology for change, you may fall victim to solutionitis—acting on hunches unchecked by evidence.

NASH Improvement Communities

NASH began implementing improvement science methodologies in 2022 as a new way to respond to adaptive problems. Previously used in medicine and business, improvement science helps organizations and practitioners identify and analyze the root causes of issues and rapidly prototype possible solutions before scaling.

The framework for NASH Improvement Communities (NICs) consists of three phases of work over a one-year period in a model adapted from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Currently, NASH has three NICs in the areas of transfer, curricular flexibility, and equity, with up to four systems participating in each.

The first phase of a NIC is assessment and preparation, through which system personnel gather data, study a problem of practice, and engage in disciplined inquiry to best understand the issue. The second phase includes workshops and improvement cycles, where system teams implement improvement science strategies to identify an aim statement with measurable goals, explore root causes of the problem, prioritize approaches, identify problem areas, and create action plans for rapid tests of possible solutions to achieve the aim. The third NIC phase is reporting and reflection, when systems analyze their findings to see if the tests of change work and are worthy for adoption or possible adaptation in future work.

Through the NIC model, systems and their member institutions are able to leverage improvement science to identify what works so it can be scaled to provide the maximum benefits to students. Perhaps most important is that the NIC approach encourages participants to “fail before scale.” Testing an intervention over a forty-five-day cycle, refining it, and retesting it—tracking and evaluating results throughout—gives participating administrators, faculty, and staff license to think outside of the box where the negative consequences are contained and the positive consequences have the potential for massive reach. While the NIC model currently serves systems, the core concepts of rapid-prototyping solutions and “fail before scale” can be leveraged in any setting to address a stubborn problem of practice. In fact, one of NASH’s goals is that the system and campus representatives who participate in NICs will receive certifications and be prepared to lead continuous improvement in any identified area of need.

Tip 6. Disrupt with intention:

Do not push change for change’s sake. There is no harm in admitting that something is already working just fine, and there are always opportunities to learn from what has or has not worked in the past to inform your approaches. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is not a reason to maintain the status quo. However, “Because I said so,” is not sufficient reasoning for disruption and certainly won’t win you any followers.

NASH Catalyst Fund

The NASH Catalyst Fund encourages sharing promising practices that are leading to equitable student success outcomes scalable to fellow institutions and systems. Its impact is far-reaching, but the concept is simple: through pooled philanthropic support, NASH can recognize and incentivize the development of our members’ big ideas that, once proven to work, have the potential to be scaled not only across institutions within a single system but among peers around the country.

The first round of the NASH Catalyst Fund included $275,000 to recognize hot spots of best practices that demonstrate interventions that are already underway and proving to be successful with the potential to have a catalytic impact in meeting NASH’s measurable goals. Catalyst Fund awards to date have fallen into three main categories:

  • Recognition: NASH invited members to nominate their institutions’ successful programs, including proof points, to help us learn about the innovative work being done at campuses that might otherwise never make it beyond campus or state borders. Examples include New Mexico State University’s Technology Pathways for Incarcerated Students, which ensures incarcerated students have access to robust educational services that prepare them for both higher education and twenty-first-century jobs.
  • Achieving Scale: Some Catalyst Fund proposals were building on a record of success but needed an extra push to support implementation and scale. For example, NASH supported California State University (CSU) in implementing their common system-wide curriculum management system, which will ultimately provide accurate, timely, personalized, and mobile-friendly digital road maps for all students prior to their arrival at CSU campuses.
  • Systemness Without Borders: The majority of Catalyst Fund resources in our first round were dedicated to NASH’s Refugee Resettlement Initiative, which aims to create welcoming campuses and promote the inclusion of refugees and displaced communities at public higher education systems across the United States. Given that the wraparound services many campuses offer to support first-generation college students are not dissimilar to those needed by refugees, the RRI assists institutions of higher education in creating welcoming communities and promoting inclusivity for refugees. For example, Western Kentucky University’s new Resilient Refugee Program innovatively combines three existing programs to provide displaced students with access to personalized support in navigating the complexities of campus life.

NASH Improvement Communities and the Catalyst Fund are two ways that NASH is delivering on the promise of collective impact and systemness that offer models that could be adapted to many higher education settings. The next section explores how systemness manifests at the institution and system level.

Tip 7. Share the glory:

You can’t say “thank you” enough. In a world of scarce resources, public recognition for work well done is free and can pay dividends in staff retention and dedication. In the case of our NASH Catalyst Fund, what we considered a nominal $7,500 award to a campus program was received as if it were $1,000,000 in the positive impact it had on the staff who had been toiling to make a difference for students with minimal support and recognition.

Systemness at the Local Level

Nancy Zimpher’s first role leading a system was as chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY), but it was not her first role within a system. She had previously served as the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), where The Wisconsin Idea was born. Introduced in the mid-nineteenth century when the University of Wisconsin System was founded, it calls for the boundaries of the University—which had its only presence in Madison at the time—were no less than the boundaries of the state.

This commitment of service to the entire state has been retained over time as a true north star of the university system, invoked frequently. As UWM chancellor, Zimpher coined The Milwaukee Idea as the central tenet of how the Milwaukee campus could serve its fellow institutions as well as the state as a whole. It was only natural, then, that her tenure at SUNY would be centered on how the system could positively affect the social and economic future of all the citizens of New York State, nearly all of whom live within thirty miles of one of its institutions.

At SUNY, systemness was Zimpher’s theory of action, battle cry, and cultural cornerstone in one. It was apparent in the “Power of SUNY” strategic plan, in legislative requests that put no one institution ahead of others, and in the $100 million investment and performance fund specifically designed to spread and scale what campuses could prove was moving the dial on student success.

Tip 8. Culture trumps strategy:

Recognize the limitations of deeply entrenched resistance to change, especially in an organization fortunate to have many employees with longevity. It’s important to remember the “rule of thirds.” One-third of the institution was making progress regardless of the leadership, and one-third will not be moved no matter what you do or say. The key is to focus on the middle third, whom you can convince with the right approach and vision—get them on board!

Systemness can have many sources and take many forms:

  • Under the leadership of Chancellor Steve Wrigley, the University System of Georgia (USG) launched a comprehensive administrative review (CAR) that challenged every institution to identify savings in administrative costs that could be reinvested in teaching and learning. Through this approach, the USG identified over $100 million in savings and implemented process improvements, supported academic priorities, and doubled down on student access and success. Ultimately, functions such as enrollment management and enterprise resource planning systems were centralized under the University System Office and streamlined to the benefit of all USG institutions and constituents. The inclusive CAR process demonstrated how a top-down edict that allowed institutions ownership over decision-making could create grassroots systemness.
  • In Pennsylvania, systemness was a threat and an opportunity. After a state auditor general released a report detailing the dire financial insolvency of one institution, the Board of Regents began a multiphase system redesign to prevent a number of struggling campuses from a fiscal cliff. The redesign ultimately paved the road for university integrations under the stewardship of Chancellor Daniel Greenstein. Greenstein’s approach was to challenge everyone to rethink culture toward systemness through (1) engaging in radical transparency about the opportunities and challenges ahead; (2) redefining system leadership by bringing more university leaders to the table and holding each other accountable; (3) reengaging with key stakeholders through transparent sharing of data and frequent public conversations; (4) partnering with the legislature to achieve system reforms that led to increased state funding; (5) reorienting the chancellor’s office toward strategy leadership and client service rather than compliance; and (6) demonstrating the power of a “sharing system” through efforts that underscore how the success or distress of one institution affects them all.
  • The University of Maine System (UMS) was established in 1968 for the express purpose of creating a cohesive structure for public higher education in the state. When Chancellor Jim Page took the helm in March 2012, he discovered that this vision for a comprehensive system had never been realized. He created shared ownership of systemness by avoiding consultants and instead bringing together internal experts to identify opportunities for collaboration and efficiency, including a unified information technology system and a centralized financial structure. While systemness was present both in the UMS charter and new administrative structure, the crowning achievement was unified accreditation for the system, which allowed institutions to leverage their diverse strengths to meet accreditation standards as a whole.

A Theory of Leadership

Every individual joining an organization brings to the table their own vision, values, and expectations. When that individual is a new chief executive, it’s expected that their vision and values will inform their planning, policy, and practice and—if they’re successful in generating buy-in—will ultimately influence the strategy and culture of the entire organization.

Tip 9. Branding matters:

Through the creative genius of communication experts (whether internal or external), publish an engaging and public-friendly plan that speaks directly to vision, action, and accountability. Circulate it widely, in print, online, on attire, on buildings, rendered in neon! With successful socialization of your plan, everyone should be able to say in their own words where we’re going, what will change, and the expected benefits.

Over time, place, and various roles at unique institutions, Nancy Zimpher has articulated a personal theory of leadership. In reflecting on her experience as a leader who has mentored dozens of current and future leaders, she has identified five components of a theory of leadership: vision, at the hands of many, action, accountability, and sustainability. The descriptions below provide examples of each of these components as they played out in NASH’s Big ReThink.

  • Vision: Leaders bring with them an aspiration for what their organization can be. NASH’s aspiration in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic was to create the conditions that would allow member systems to emerge from the pandemic more resilient.
  • At the hands of many: Vision alone cannot drive action, especially if that vision rests solely with a leader. To be assimilated across an organization, vision requires collective understanding of how it applies to the organization and its constituents; it also needs to include the feedback and voices of those constituents. At SUNY, Zimpher visited all sixty-four campuses in one hundred days and used hours of documented discussions, formal and informal meetings, and a website comment portal to inform iterations of the strategic plan. NASH echoed this broad and deep engagement—of course virtually—to inform the Big ReThink.
  • Action: Affecting change demands that a leader articulate how a big idea moves from aspiration to action. For NASH, the five imperatives helped move from ideas to action, scaffolding the path to our desired outcomes.
  • Accountability: The sooner an organization establishes how progress and success will be measured, the sooner the enterprise can identify what works and shift focus from what doesn’t. NASH’s metrics identify how we will transparently track progress on our three goals for equitable student success.
  • Sustainability: Critical to any effort to sustain a collective vision and deliver results is an institutional framework of policies that guide system and campus actions, which can also be achieved through incentives like performance-based funding. For strategy and culture changes to take hold, they must be socialized throughout the organization, reinforced through professional development, upheld by the governing body, and implemented with fidelity. Without sustainability, leaders risk their agenda lasting only as long as their tenure. For NASH, this has involved formal adoption of the Power of Systems agenda by our board of directors, as well as annual “superconvenings,” where our members renew their support of this work. Through NASH Improvement Communities and the Catalyst Fund, we reinforce systemness and ensure alignment with our imperatives.

Tip 10. Planned repetition is your friend:

Every speech, every issuance from your office, every welcoming, honoring, awarding, graduating must emanate from the source document. You are pushing the message deep into the woof and warp of the organization and eventually other voices will not only follow but will personally express the vision. That’s how they know you have one!

A New Narrative for Higher Education

We have detailed where systemness came from, what it means, how it manifests in different settings, and—we hope—why it is meaningful for the future of public higher education. In a resource-constrained environment where affordability and accessibility are constantly questioned, public higher education systems can demonstrate a positive return on investment by creating efficiencies and leveraging their diverse institutional assets to meet regional and statewide needs. Systems can provide a breadth of service and level of scale that no single institution could rival.

We began this essay focusing on the importance of a shared culture as the foundation for anything a leader can hope to achieve. Whether grounded in systemness, equity, or other values, the fact is that public higher education’s boundaries are permeable. We are susceptible to the whims of policymakers and must remain flexible to respond to the demands of our dynamic global economy. Whatever vision, strategy, or culture we create, we are not in a vacuum.

The value of higher education, once taken for granted, is now in question. Tales of millionaire dropouts are paired with dire warnings about student debt. If this debate continues to drive students away from traditional postsecondary education, no amount of systemness will change the tide back in our favor.

NASH is preparing for the first time in its history to launch a marketing campaign targeted at consumers with a simple tagline: College is worth it. We know that college-educated individuals are healthier, more civically engaged, less likely to get involved with the criminal justice system, and more likely to contribute to their communities, among other virtues. Our sector’s challenge—indeed the challenge of all higher education leaders—is to sustain a national culture of college-going so we can continue our important work of creating a more equitable future.


Groysberg, Boris., Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng. 2018. “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture: How to Manage the Eight Critical Elements of Organizational Life.” Harvard Business Review, January–February. https://hbr.org/2018/01/the-leaders-guide-to-corporate-culture.

Heifetz, Ronald, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linksy. 2009. The Practice of Adaptive Leadership. Harvard Business Review Press. https://store.hbr.org/product/the-practice-of-adaptive-leadership-tools-and-tactics-for-changing-your-organization-and-the-world/5764

Kelderman, Eric. 2020. “Happy New Year, Higher Ed: You’ve Missed Your Completion Goal.” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 7. https://www.chronicle.com/article/happy-new-year-higher-ed-youve-missed-your-completion-goal/?cid=gen_sign_in.

Martin, Rebecca., Nancy Zimpher, Jason Lane, and James Johnsen. 2022. “Leveraging the Power of Systemness to Improve the Success of Students and Society.” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning 54 (4): 38–44. DOI: 10.1080/00091383.2022.2078154.

About the authors


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National Association of System Heads’ Transformation Agenda Copyright © 2024 by Dr. Nancy Zimpher and Ms. Jessica Todtman, MPA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.