How to be nimble

To be nimble, you must have three things: sensitivity- an awareness of changes, threats and opportunities; responsiveness- the ability to flex and adapt; and forward focus- moving toward some aspirant state.

It is hard to deny the level of threat and change surrounding us. But how to respond and flex when our organizations and systems are so rigid, when layers of structure constrain us, and resources continue to disappear.

The secret to nimbleness lies in committing to what is most important and true and then resonating with that vision, finding creative ways to honor our commitments and strengthen our relevance.

Let me show you how it works. My field is Higher Education, specifically experiential learning with a focus on global engagement.

I ask myself, what is most important for our students right now, within the evolving global landscape. It is clear that we need graduates with empathy and curiosity, willing to challenge their assumptions, get close to complexities and ideas, develop cultural humility and strive to add value in the world.

Once I recognize the importance of these needs, I can clarify my own commitments and responsibilities within this space.  What resources and opportunities can I leverage through my work at the University? Faculty expertise, facilitation, support, a digital space for students to connect, and dream, and engage, relationships and global partners, and technology. With this recognition, possibilities begin to swirl around me. I see that resources are literally everywhere.

If we were to work through this exercise, collectively, we would recognize that we can absolutely support students in striving for what they need- what we need to heal and nurture the world. What is most exciting about nimbleness is that movement starts the moment we clarify our commitment and accept the responsibility. And when we decide to be nimble we realize that technology is our most powerful tool. It allows us to revel in the how. It expands possibilities and transforms the learning landscape. Imagine a dynamic world where students’ interests activate opportunities, propelling them on journeys of exploration, learning and engagement. Whether connecting them with a faculty expert via Zoom, or allowing them to share their ideas with collaborators or peers, we find creative ways to nurture their interests and curiosities, to help them build capacity and find their place in a changing world.

In many ways, the Pandemic is forcing us to be nimble. As resources fall way, we will be increasingly unable to sustain our programs and offerings in their familiar forms.  But once we recognize that our commitments are not to our programs or offerings, but instead to our students and the broader world, we can begin to access the exciting benefits of nimbleness. Relevance, resonance, and continued viability are all within our reach; but only if we commit to the promise.    

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