“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” (E.M. Forster)
Communication is not a luxury in higher education management. We learn and understand by expressing ideas and hearing both ourselves and others do so. Without communication, we are locked inside of ourselves and cannot move, but once we see what we say, it is equally important that we act on our words. I believe that communication and action are the basis and hope for the future of higher education.
Ann Duffield & Colleagues is built on the conviction that first-class governance, management, and planning requires effective communication. Colleges and universities are unique places with unique challenges that are best met through well-planned, individualized interventions that call for careful and thoughtful communication at every step of the way. It is ADAC’s goal to help all of the leaders we serve to express their ideas in ways that will motivate others to create with them the strong plans that will produce the actions required to make their institutions great.
When I created ADAC, I asked past presidents who are themselves extraordinary communicators and leaders to be my colleagues. Each of these individuals has left a significant mark on the institutions she or he served for many years. Each has had to handle complex challenges, to think analytically about what works, and to communicate in ways that generated a following internally and externally for their institutions. My colleagues know what it is like to sit in the seat that their clients now occupy.
We each have our own special special interests. Joanne is very interested in the “big picture” and governance. Steve specializes in counseling presidents. Dan is strong in data analysis and development. Dick has special skills and resources to solve tough financial challenges. I tend to focus on the communications and facilitation that act as the glue to hold all of this together. And we are all strong in planning.
We also operate well as a team and understand how important it is for senior leaders to have the equivalent of a “kitchen cabinet,” a group of people they can talk to confidentially. As Steve Lewis puts it, “It’s important to find some folks with whom you can talk candidly, and laugh heartily. Both are needed activities.” Toward this end, we have no problem spending time on the phone—individually or as a group—to listen, provide candid advice, be supportive, and even laugh a lot, all without a time meter running.
ADAC believes that successful leaders leave legacies that benefit not only their own colleges and universities but, by example, the rest of higher education. The purpose of our practice is to provide counsel, scholarship, and research that yield real results for our clients and provide potential models for other colleges and universities.