5 Organizational Tips from Academia

This semester I’m one of the coaches in the excellent Visualization program at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. As part of that involvement, I attended their recent new faculty orientation. I’ve culled 5 organizational tips from that meeting.

  1. Have a Warning Sign for Poor Customer Relationships: Each faculty member is asked to contact the Academic Affairs department when any student’s performance falls below a ‘C’. Students are paying for the MCAD experience, and ‘C’ grade is one of the most visible warning signs that something isn’t working. A signal that MCAD needs to try something else with this customer, er student. Does your organization have a warning sign for poor customer relationships? (StoryBlog offers another approach)
  2. Institute a 3rd Question Person: The VP of Academic Affairs introduced himself as the ‘3rd Question Person’ – i.e. if you ask someone a question and they direct you to a second person, and this second person directs you to a third, contact the VP of Academic Affairs. He wants to know both the question, and that it was left unanswered.
  3. Know Your Capacity: Though professors can add as many students to their class as they can personally support, there is a limit to how many students the class itself can support. For example; if there are 20 computers in the computer lab – only 20 students can be in the class without negatively impacting the learning experience. For years, O’Hare Airport wasn’t honest about their capacity – believing they could support >120 take-offs / hour.
  4. Each Organization Needs a Well-Run Off-Stage & an On-Stage:Documentation, research, and internal policies may not be the favorite parts of the job. Though, without them the classtime and student work will not be as successful.
  5. Vendors are not Emergency Response Teams: Include vendors and partner organizations as early as possible, especially when you don’t need there help immediately. A quick phone call or email months ahead of time saying, “We’re thinking of using you for this.” will be better received than a call saying, “We needed you to do this yesterday.” The early communication will provide a higher quality of service.