How to Keep From Being Flattened

Comments at the All Faculty Fall Meeting

In the best seller "The World is Flat," Thomas Friedman outlines the consequences of the flattening of the world. He writes that from any desktop in the world we can contact one another and perform virtually any activity. Obstacles such as time and space are being eliminated by technology, literally creating a level playing field, which he characterizes as flatness.

We live in a time where the ultimate competitive advantage is change. The institutions that are best prepared and willing to embrace these changes will live to see tomorrow. Those that are especially comfortable with innovation, reconfiguration and discovery will ultimately prevail and will own the future.

In bringing about the changes necessary to maintain relevance institutions must operate in a state of perpetual delta, constantly reinventing themselves, improving themselves, prepared for the next move forward, refusing to stay stagnant and willing to meet the changing needs of our students. Perpetual delta means moving beyond the present and embracing the future with open eyed optimism.

And so I end as I began, by asking the all important question, what are the attributes and behavioral patterns that will keep Webster from thriving in a flat world? I found the answer, in a recently published study by European based Cap Gemini – they identified the top three factors that cause transformation to fail:

• Resistant to change;
• A lack of requisite management skills
• The knowledge and sluggishness with which an organization reacts to rapid changes.

It's really up to all of us on how we will take on the future. It's up to us to ensure that in this new era of flatness we will never, ever allow ourselves to be flattened. We must stay vigilant to ensure that the three obstacles to transformation are not allowed to fester in our midst. I thank you for listening. I am hopeful that our collective effort as faculty will keep us from being flattened.

Thank you.