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CAEL Pathways Blog

Tackling Change: CAEL's New ALLIES Framework as a Change Management Process

Change is Inevitable

What do you think of when you hear the word 'change?' Change is constant? Change is good? Change is progress? Change is hard?  How does the word 'change' make you feel? Nervous? Excited? Proud? Stuck? There are a lot of thoughts and feelings that get stirred up for people when it comes to change. One thing that I think we can all agree on is that, in some way, shape, or form, change is inevitable. It's how we react to and plan for it that makes all the difference. CAEL's new ALLIES Framework recognizes the need to plan for change using data-driven decisions to help ensure equity and success in an institution's efforts to better serve adult learners.

Have a plan. Work the plan.

Have a plan. Work the plan. And be prepared to re-work the plan! This has been a mantra for me, both personally and professionally.  At home I am known as a 'planner.' In making decisions, both big and small, I always start with gathering as much information I can about the decision to be made.  I want to know as much as possible, the good, the bad, and the ugly. What do I know about the decision options?  What are the pros? Cons? What will it cost me? Whom will this decision impact? What do those people think or say about the topic? Once I've gathered the facts, I weigh the options. Which option will provide the most benefit, while limiting as many challenges as possible? Why are we even considering these changes or decisions? What's the WIIFM (What's In It For Me)? As these questions are thought through, a plan starts to take shape. A map, if you will, that leads us to our end decision or result. And I'm not kidding - I apply this strategy to nearly every decision at home, from vacation selection to what's for dinner! 

A Tool for Change

Similarly, Level 1 in CAEL's new ALLIES Framework focuses on gathering data (Student and Labor Market Data), using that data to help shape a new strategy (Adult- and Equity-Focused Strategic Plan), and fostering a new culture within an organization that prepares for change and embraces new ways of learning and operating (Culture of Change and Adaptivity). This is not unlike my decision-making strategy at home! In 2018 I had the opportunity to help build out CAEL's action and evaluation planning process, as a part of the inaugural Latino Adult Student Success (LASS) Academy.  The inaugural LASS Academy (May 2018 - April 2021) was a three-year initiative that provided a platform to fifteen participating Hispanic Serving Institutions to identify areas of strength and need, and take actionable steps in implementing plans to best serve their adult and Latino adult learners. The purpose of CAEL's action and evaluation planning process is to provide an opportunity for institutions to use data to prioritize and document actionable steps and track progress toward goals addressing an identified need or desired state. While in the case of LASS this goal was to better attract, serve, and retain Latino adult students and adult students generally, the process itself can be used regardless of the objectives you are trying to achieve. 

Nuts and Bolts

So how does the process work? Leveraging CAEL's Adult Learner 360 Surveys or Institutional Review as data collection methods, participating institutions use student and staff data to measure their areas of adult learner satisfaction and institutional effectiveness. The action and evaluation planning process then guides institutions to use this data to identify areas of opportunity and to create and document specific action items to help address those areas of opportunity. It also includes creating a timeline for implementation and metrics to help measure their progress toward implementing those action items. The process's deliverables include

  • A Documented Action Plan
  • A Documented Evaluation Plan and Metrics
  • Share Impact and Best Practices

Level 1 of CAEL's new ALLIES Framework creates a foundation that institutions can build upon on their journey to becoming more adult-focused institutions. This framework for supporting institutional change, complementary support, and processes like CAEL's Action and Evaluation Planning support, along with the day-to-day support from CAEL and your peers, can help institutions navigate all of those thoughts and feelings that come up when we think about change - helping you to have a plan and work the plan.

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