Adapt to the Market: What Universities Can Learn from Manufacturing

Ed Magee - Vice President for Strategic Operations, Belmont University

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Ed Magee has a fascinating career history - from the Marine Corps to decades of operations leadership at Harley-Davidson and Fender - and now he's instilling his lessons learned in a new role as Vice President for Strategic Operations at Belmont University.

The truth is, university education in America is facing a crossroads: either innovate and adapt, or fade away. The workplace is changing rapidly, the market for education is changing, and what students want out of their college experience has changed. If universities don't recognize these changes and pivot, they won't be around for long.

Fortunately, Ed's experience in operations leadership positions him to bring this entrepreneurial mindset to Belmont. We're digging into what those lessons from manufacturing are and what higher education should be doing to adapt to the market.

Inside this episode:

  • Why systems are just as important as ambitious goals
  • How to view university education through a product development lens
  • The value of "and, not or"
  • How to get others on board with your big ideas

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. Universities need to adopt a "startup" mindset: Higher education is facing huge changes in the market. To remain relevant universities have to pivot their educational offering to content and modes that students today want. That means adopting a startup mindset: making ambitious goals, quickly adapting to market trends, creating an innovative product that the market wants, and delivering it in a way that's meaningful and useful to students.
  2. Manufacturing operations lend themselves well to university education: From Kaizen and continuous improvement, to lean thinking, to systems and processes, the tools of manufacturing can help university leaders run a streamlined organization. By implementing these tools, universities can pivot faster, redesign an educational experience students today are looking for, and achieve bigger goals than ever before.
  3. To drive organizational change, effective leaders put people first: In any organization with big goals and initiatives, change management is all about getting people on board. While it's great for leaders to embrace and inspire toward change, what's really needed is for everyone in the organization to internalize and own the effort. That happens through listening, meeting people where they're at, investing in people, and remembering that there are more similarities than differences among us.


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