HEADING_INST-EFFECTInstitutional Effectiveness-1The University of Minnesota is a big place: five campuses, 65,000 students, and 25,000 employees. An institution of this size can present complex challenges: how do we develop services and systems that meet variegated needs and interests? How might we engage large groups that are diverse yet share common interests to advance the common good? What new strategies will spur on creative thinking, help us take conversations into action, and make possible the formation of communities that are invested in continuous improvement of services, systems, and governance?

Challenges are inevitable even in the most healthy of large, complex institutions. But our challenges can become intractable when members of a group perceive their organization as dysfunctional and ineffective. Sometimes organizational silos create barriers to institutional effectiveness. In other instances, top-down planning predictably leads to a lack of community acceptance.

In the three chapters in this section, the authors explain how they mobilized Art of Hosting to address complex challenges across the University of Minnesota and, at the same time, introduce structural transformation in an effort to make positive change sustainable.

  • Geller recounts the first phase of designing the new University of Minnesota portal, which will provide personalized information, tools, and services to the entire University community. She and her colleagues created an intentional and methodical planning process with a focus on participatory engagement and co-creating solutions. The result will be both a better portal and wider commitment to its success.
  • Singh and Rosencrans introduced Design Thinking to the Enterprise Portal Project, and in doing so introduced a framework that complements and enriches the Art of Hosting. Design thinking sparks creativity and helps take conversations to action.
  • Edwards and Sintjago recount how the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) at the University of Minnesota faced major challenges: council members were displeased with the direction of the organization, a lack of student engagement and satisfaction, and a decision-making process in which a few voices dominated discussion. The Art of  Hosting and other methodologies is altering this organization, making it more flexible, democratic, open, and representative of students.

These initiatives suggest that the power of meaningful conversations is altering what occurs throughout a large, complex system. By overcoming divisions, they show what might be accomplished at a larger scale through application of the Art of Hosting approach.