Tuesday, October 28, 2014

You Don’t Do Politics?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 28th, 2014



A recent Faculty Senate vote on a departmental restructuring at my university got my attention even before the debate turned contentious. The restructuring proposal seemed completely practical and straightforward to me (I’ll spare you the details as they are only of interest internally). Asked for my advice before the vote, I encouraged a colleague supportive of the proposal to engage in extensive conversation before it hit the Senate floor. And, most important: I suggested making a special effort to communicate with those Senate members known for being especially suspicious about change.
“The rationale makes sense,” I said, “you just need to make sure everyone understands why this would be beneficial.”
The organizers secured the support of Senate leadership in advance of the meeting, but they neglected to “educate” the other members of the Senate. The issue was put before the membership cold and it was not received warmly. While an adequate number of votes was eventually secured, the process to achieve that was painful and protracted. “Line up the votes before you get in the room” -- Rule No. 12 of The Academic Organizational Politics Playbook -- was broken that day. The Academic Organizational Politics Playbook does not actually exist, but if it did, it would contain a full chapter on how to ensure that no debate of significance occurs inside formal meetings.


A recent Faculty Senate vote on a departmental restructuring at my university got my attention even before the debate turned contentious. The restructuring proposal seemed completely practical and straightforward to me (I’ll spare you the details as they are only of interest internally). Asked for my advice before the vote, I encouraged a colleague supportive of the proposal to engage in extensive conversation before it hit the Senate floor. And, most important: I suggested making a special effort to communicate with those Senate members known for being especially suspicious about change.
“The rationale makes sense,” I said, “you just need to make sure everyone understands why this would be beneficial.”
The organizers secured the support of Senate leadership in advance of the meeting, but they neglected to “educate” the other members of the Senate. The issue was put before the membership cold and it was not received warmly. While an adequate number of votes was eventually secured, the process to achieve that was painful and protracted. “Line up the votes before you get in the room” -- Rule No. 12 of The Academic Organizational Politics Playbook -- was broken that day. The Academic Organizational Politics Playbook does not actually exist, but if it did, it would contain a full chapter on how to ensure that no debate of significance occurs inside formal meetings.
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/774-you-don-t-do-politics#sthash.TXVFyGuW.dpuf

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