SEM & Organizational Change Management

August 8, 2022
  • AACRAO Consulting
  • Change Management
  • Enrollment Management
Overhead shot of workflow management arrows.

By Clayton Smith, AACRAO SEM Conference Director and Editor-in-Chief, SEM Quarterly and Senior Consultant, AACRAO Consulting

Greek philosopher Heraclitus said more than 2,000 years ago, “Change is the only constant,” which suggests that everything is in a continuous state of flux.  Today we live in a world where change is present in our everyday life with evolving technology, increasing globalization, continuing cost containment, increasing speed in market fluctuations, growing importance of knowledge capital, and increasing rate and magnitude of change.

Becoming a Nimble Organization

Nimble organizations are recognized as effective in managing organizational change.  Historically, post-secondary educational organizations have not been nimble; however, if an institution can become nimbler, then it may have an expanded capacity to deal with the changes it faces.  They key to becoming a nimble organization is collaboration. By implementing structured processes to encourage collaboration, we can enable earlier and more effective organizational change.  

The keys to success for effective organizational change in post-secondary educational environments include:

  • Take enough time: Take enough time to plan the initiative and broadly identify those impacted.

  • Collaborate: Engage early and often with those affected and involve them in collaborative planning for SEM implementation.

  • Keep it simple: Avoid overly complex SEM implementation strategies that require too many people in too many meetings too often.

Applying Change Management to SEM Implementation

Below are some ways to enhance institutional performance related to change management regarding SEM implementation.

  • Develop a change management strategy that focuses on change at the individual, project, and enterprise levels.

  • Review your institution for its nimbleness. Focus on your institution’s environment (e.g., leadership, culture, approach to change roles), and application structures and processes.

  • Develop an organizational change plan at the outset to support long-term sustainability.

  • Adopt clear organization-wide ownership and commitment to change.

  • Establish clear accountability for specific actions.

  • Establish a collaborative approach to evolve an organization-wide SEM culture that includes information sharing across the institution, communication regarding the shared information, collaboration between academic and enrolment leaders, and development of a SEM culture.

Be sure to take enough time, collaborate widely, and keep it simple.

For more on this topic, see the SEMQ article, The Role of Organizational Change Management in Successful Strategic Enrollment Management Implementation.


AACRAO's bi-weekly professional development e-newsletter is open to members and non-members alike.