Aren't we distinctive already?

Your HEI is - but the challenge lies in successfully identifying and articulating that distinctiveness. The first step is convincing colleagues of the need.


Added by Tricia Scott, March 2011.

Two-thirds of the people at the January 2011 Leading Transformational Change Conference who responded to our question ‘How important to your university’s strategy is it that your university is seen as distinctive?’ agreed that it was ‘Essential’. What’s more, around 90% expressed the belief that key stakeholder groups regarded their institutions as either absolutely distinctive or distinctive in certain key respects.  So do we really need this project to show us how to identify and implement a distinctiveness strategy?

Well, if you’ve already tried out our ‘Mission Statement Exercise’ resource, you’ll know that even if you are distinctive, you may not be communicating it very well to the people who need to know. As part of this project I have spoken to a number of senior managers in HE and when I ask them what is distinctive about their institutions, they have all given me very similar answers. So what is going on? Are institutions distinctive or aren’t they? I suspect the answer is yes, and that the challenge for the sector is to successfully articulate that distinctiveness.

The key thing to understand is that an institutional strength is not necessarily a distinctive feature. You may be excellent at research, or teaching, or internationalism or student experience. But so are other institutions. That means that the thing that you thought was distinctive is actually only a ‘necessary’ rather than a ‘sufficient’ condition for being included in the subset of institutions which an individual or organisation is prepared to consider.

Topics: The case for change.