Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Well, the time has come: I am in my third week of “retirement.” I view it as a transition to my encore career, as a consultant, writer and (I hope) speaker. Like so many Boomers, I feel neither burned out nor worn out, and I’m excited about future possibilities.

From reading and conversation, I suspect that I am relatively typical of someone in my position. I’m accustomed to working hard, then fitting in some exercise, and spending time with family and friends, as time permits. Now, I want something a little different. I intend to stay professionally active, but I also plan to take more time for the people I care about, to travel, and to explore various interests that I’ve tended to put on the back burner.

On the professional side, this blog chronicles some of my emerging interests. I would like to take a positive, coaching approach toward helping organizations and individual leaders develop strategies for serving adult learners, for encouraging growth of branch campuses, and for expanding access through distance learning programs. I am hoping to write some about design approaches to innovation in higher education, as an alternative to more traditional, slow, and unsatisfying strategic planning approaches. I think there are so many interesting and promising new ideas out there, and I definitely want to be engaged, not on the sideline reading about them.

For sure, life is an adventure, full of twists and turns. From my own point of view, my career has consisted of doors opening and me walking through, mostly out of curiosity. I see no reason to change that pattern, and I look forward to my new adventures.

In future posts, or perhaps in other writings, I want to explore the administrative implications of a design approach in higher education. In those areas of our work that are meant to be entrepreneurial and responsive to changing expectations, the old ways aren’t going to work. On the other hand, the emerging opportunities can allow for a level of creativity that we rarely see at traditional colleges and universities. It’s energizing, sometimes confusing, and full of risk and potential reward.

To wrap up this more or less transitional post, I’d like to mention an exceptional book I read, recently. The title is The Design of Business, by Roger Martin. Martin is dean of the Rotman School of Management, at the University of Toronto. He does a very nice job of capturing important elements of what I’d call a “design approach to innovation.” My interest, of course, is in applying these ideas to higher education, but I recommend the book to those who share my belief that change processes have a very different character, today, than they used to have.

Finally, I do have considerable interest in generational topics. Coaching Boomers as they make the transition to encore careers, developing programs to support that transition or helping organizations build effective cross-generational work teams intrigue me, and I see definite connections between branch campus programming and generation-related opportunities. It’s all part of the emerging new points of view on work, work-life balance, and positive strengths-based organizations.