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continued from page 17 John Smeaton, Lehigh University Vice President for Student Affairs, shares, “It is difficult for mid-level staff to manage deep cultural change in a [fraternity/sorority] community: there needs to be a commitment from the top of the student affairs division as there are different resources and access points that a Vice President has from a Director of [Fraternity/Sorority] Life. This is reassuring for the front-line staff to know that they had deep and direct support. If this does not happen a ceiling of accomplishment can exist.” Kotter found that in successful transformation efforts, a powerful coalition – with a range of professional experience, information and expertise, reputations and relationships must be in place. Of course there is value in having undergraduate members in the coalition but a successful fraternity/sorority professional uses a long view. They find the people and systems that can direct what must be in place in seven to 10 years. Unfortunately, students rarely connect to long-term change initiatives. Error #3: Lacking a Vision Employees at my gym recently went through a mission/vision development session. One day their newly adopted statement was written on a huge dry erase board at the registration area. It was four sentences long and took up the entire 3’x 5’ board. I cannot remember a single word. I am also willing to bet none of them remember the mission. Six months later, the statement was gone. In the book Deep Change, Robert O. Quinn (1996) described organizations “engaged in the strategy of change by telling” (p. 34). He watched many managers give a speech or write a memo about needed change – it goes on his/her to-do list, as well as supervisees’ to-do list, creating a “check list mentality” of cultural change. Busy campus professionals are inundated by crises, urgent issues, timely programs, and hundreds of stakeholders warranting their attention. It is easy and expedient to have a to-do list for a process of prioritizing and implementing. Need a program on high-risk drinking? Add it to the to-do list. Need a stronger judicial board? Add a training program to the to-do list. This dynamic also plays out in undergraduate organizations: council and chapter leaders often go on a retreat to build relationships and determine goals for their leadership term. Throughout the year, the goals are addressed at meetings and crossed off the

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Perspectives / Winter 2007

An evaluation process is a healthy start to a change initiative because it forces everyone to evaluate the community through different lenses – the good, the bad, and the ugly. list with a sense of accomplishment. What change has occurred other than another item off the list?

Others love change. For these people, change implies new ideas, energy, and life. They enjoy the unexplored maze.

Deep cultural change will not happen with a “check list mentality.” True visionary leadership involves the collective vision of all stakeholders – a picture of where they want their community to be in 10 years. It involves asking different questions so one does not end up with something like my gym’s vision statement: absent from the minds of employees and members. Some questions to examine vision clarity are:

An evaluation process is a healthy start to a change initiative because it forces everyone to evaluate the community through different lenses – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It gives a voice to those who have not been engaged in the community, such as disconnected alumni and neighbors. It gives a louder voice to those who feel they have not been really listened to (oftentimes new members and culturally-based chapter members). It digs for the real reasons unaffiliated students are turning their back on a fraternity/sorority experience. It helps people honestly discuss the “elephants in the room” such as hazing, alcohol abuse, abysmal housing, disengaged local advisors – all in the spirit of interfraternalism and a desire for community-wide improvement. The evaluation process quickly unearths the critical issues that must be addressed, as well as identifies opportunities for growth and improvement.

•W  hat do we want our fraternity/sorority community to be “world famous” for? • How are we treating each other? • How are members and alumni behaving? • How are we being supported? •W  hat mechanisms are in place for us to become a world-class fraternity/sorority community? Error #4: Failing to Sustain Change Deep change in a complex fraternity/sorority community does not occur in a year. Or two years. Or three years. An unbiased evaluation by an outside party does create a sense of urgency and direction. They have their coalition and a vision and must begin the process of implementing action. Most importantly, they have a commitment to change. Dr. Bill Nelson and Jason Pierce, University of Iowa, have a very clear vision of where their campus fraternity/sorority community is going. Together with their implementation team, they consistently use the words “vibrant” and “relevant” in their descriptions of their future community. They acknowledge with their stakeholders there are no quick fix solutions. They openly and honestly share that they cannot do it alone. This is an effort that requires the passion and action from all parties for their community. Enduring change is the end product: requiring patience, persistence, and constant follow through.

Starting Your Transformation People either love or hate change. For those who hate it, change implies loss. It forces a different way of living because the cultural maze of habits, expectations, and rules are different.

Many colleagues have gone through evaluation/improvement processes to help navigate that uncharted maze. In order for us to affect cultural change in our communities, we must stop merely trading interesting programs and ideas and using the “BandAid approach” to community improvement. We must start “cooking” and working through a real process of partnership, honest acceptance of flaws, celebration of the good, and common commitment to lasting and important change. –K  aryn Nishimura Sneath is the CEO of Npower.

REFERENCES Champy, J. & Nohria, N. (1996). Fast forward: The best ideas on managing business change. Harvard Business Review. Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Quinn, R. O. (1996). Deep Change: Discovering the leader within. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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AFA Perspectives Winter 2007  

Perspectives provides a forum for research, innovative ideas, and information related to the advisement of fraternal organizations. It promo...

AFA Perspectives Winter 2007  

Perspectives provides a forum for research, innovative ideas, and information related to the advisement of fraternal organizations. It promo...

Profile for afa1976