Innovation, Transformation, and Change Leadership: A Compendium Based on TIAA Institute’s Symposia and Related Work

December 2017
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Higher education leaders are continually urged to innovate as they guide their institutions into the future. This compendium of research and best practices explains how successful institutions have translated this call to action into tangible results.


Must true innovation always be disruptive or can institutions successfully transform in a less dramatic fashion? How do you create a culture of innovation while remaining true to your institution’s mission? What’s the best way to lead change in a perpetually uncertain environment? This report answers these and related questions, cutting through the noise concerning innovation and offering clear advice for higher education leaders.

Key Insights
Change and innovation are natural states for any organization and need not be disruptive.
Action that derives from a crisis mentality is not optimal for effective change.
Leaders need to help others understand that ignoring necessary change puts institutions in a continually reactive mode.
Key factors for nurturing innovation include diversity of people, backgrounds, proficiencies and opinions; intrinsic motivators rather than external rewards; and individual autonomy to explore new concepts, theories, and ideas.

The insights presented here are gleaned from several TIAA Institute-commissioned papers; transcripts and notes from the TIAA Institute 2016 Higher Education Leadership Conference; and a review of relevant literature on higher education innovation.