Transforming Mechanical Engineering: What We Are Learning
In August 2016, during a faculty retreat for the School of Mechanical Engineering, we launched teams to begin the transformation of the School. (We are working under an NSF grant. We launched this work under the umbrella of re|course. You can visit the re|course web site here.)
What have we learned?
For one thing, we have learned the importance of structured training in the 10 rules of Strategic Doing.
Given the time pressures at the retreat and the time pressures that faculty face during the semester, we could not provide them with adequate training in thee new skills. As a consequence, the productivity of each of the teams was relatively low.
How do we know?
We can measure our progress against a benchmark established by 50 Pathways to Innovation teams, under a separate NSF grant, called Epicenter (National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation).
With the Pathways teams, we introduced Strategic Doing in a more formal setting. After a two day retreat in Phoenix, these Pathways teams launched the redesign of the undergraduate engineering curriculum using Strategic Doing. The following video takes you inside the Pathways retreat.
Strategic Doing@Pathways from Ed Morrison on Vimeo.
Since they launched in 2014, we have tracked the progress of the Pathways teams. We have reported their progress in a series of papers available here. 2014 paper; 2015 paper; 2016 paper A; 2016 paper B; 2017 paper.
The relatively weak progress of our Mechanical Engineering teams during our first year stands out. We have learned that without faculty development and training in the discipline of Strategic Doing, collaborations are very difficult to form and sustain.
Our challenge in the coming year will be to provide faculty training in a variety of different formats both over the summer and during the school year. We are starting to design these experiences with a retreat on June 7.
The Director of the Lab at UNA and co-author of Strategic Doing: 10 Skills for Agile Leadership, Ed’s work has focused on developing new models of strategy specifically designed to accelerate complex collaboration in networks and open innovation. He is the original developer of Strategic Doing.