NEED: The need for innovation at community colleges is clear. Innovation ensures the long-term success of our institutions. It enables more effective courses, greater community impact, and more sustainable economics.

PROBLEM: The challenge is how to get started with creating a culture of innovation at your community college. There is no one-size-fits-all method for igniting innovation.

SOLUTIONS: Here are some methods that have been found to help leaders ignite a culture of innovation at their community college.

1. Data-Driven Change. Gathering high-quality data on the state of innovation across your institution can be a powerful starting point for igniting an innovation culture. It begins with facilitating a validated assessment of the perceptions, attitudes, habits, and innovation practices of faculty, staff, and leadership across the college. Results are then compared with world-class innovation cultures to identify strengths that can be built on and weaknesses that offer opportunities for improvement.

2. Ignite Your Early Adopters. All community colleges have faculty and staff who innovate. A successful method for accelerating an innovation culture is to amplify the impact of early adopters of innovation by providing them with training and tools that feed their love of innovation. The goal is to activate fresh ideas and accelerate their implementation. With increased success, the new mindset, training, and tools diffuse across the organization as others are inspired and educated by early adopters.

3.Win Big. For some college cultures, the best way to accelerate adoption is to achieve a big innovation win. Big success with innovation ignites momentum. The win can be on a new or existing challenge your community college faces. It can be ideas for improving a bureaucratic work system or creating a new education offering or revenue-generating program. With success, the culture often moves from “we can’t” to “we can.” Key to success with this approach is to concentrate energy—creating a big WOW—very fast and making it happen even faster.

4. Leverage Your Education Culture. An inherent strength of community colleges is the culture of learning that often exists. As a result, the best method for many colleges is an investment in educating faculty, staff, and leadership in the science of data-driven innovation. This education may occur through a variety of delivery methods ranging from books, audio books, and workshops to fully online or in-person college courses.

In all cases, the goal is to help educate stakeholders in the community college on how to transform innovation from a random event to a reliable step-by-step system. When faculty, staff, and leadership believe they can innovate with increased speed and decreased risk, a chain reaction of positives occurs across the culture.

I Get It. We Need to Innovate. How Do We Start?

The League for Innovation in the Community College has partnered with Eureka! Ranch’s Innovation Engineering Institute to provide assessments, education, and tools for community colleges to spearhead innovation for 50 to 90 percent less than commercial rates:

• You can conduct an assessment of your innovation culture at no cost.

• You can train your early adopters and provide them with advanced tools either online or with a compressed three-day course on site.

• You can take on a major challenge, like the League for Innovation is doing with solutions for addressing hunger relief and healthy eating for students and their families.

• Undergraduate and graduate courses are available for your community college—online or in person. In addition, when you are ready you can develop the capability to deliver the course to your entire team and to your students.

To learn more, contact Cynthia Wilson ( at the League for Innovation or Maggie Pfeifer ( at the Innovation Engineering Institute.

Doug Hall

Founder and CEO, Eureka! Ranch


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