Hours this week: 0 | Hours total: 40

Dr. H was on vacation, and then traveling for a work trip this week, so we didn’t meet. And after the sprint of the last two weeks, I took some time of as well.

However: I did have a phone call last week with Dr. Minu Ipe, the Knowledge Enterprise Architect and Senior Fellow for Leadership and Institutional Design at ASU. I had originally hoped to spend my mentorship time this summer with Dr. Ipe, but unfortunately the scheduling didn’t work out. But she did have time for a phone call, and we had a great chat.

I asked Dr. Ipe a few questions based on my original plan of study. Those questions were:

  • Do you have a framework or organizational theory or theories that they embrace to lead change or programs and initiatives at ASU? If so, how did they come to select that, and what could I apply from that way of thinking and working in my own context?
  • If we understand institutions as loosely coupled systems (Weick, 1976), how does Dr. Ipe go about leading change with so many diverse groups of stakeholders and colleagues, all of whom have different levels of agency and autonomy?
  • What role does design play in Dr. Ipe’s work?
  • Based on the work Dr. Ipe has done at ASU thus far, what lessons on leading people can I learn to be a more effective leader within my team in the Teachers College?

Our conversation was excellent, and we really only got time to focus on a few of the questions. When I asked her about a leadership and change framework or theory she liked, she offered two: Heifetz & Linsky’s adaptive leadership, and Kurt Lewin’s change model (unfreeze/change/refreeze). Dr. Ipe said she believes, as President Crow does, that leadership is not a function of a role or a hierarchy, but it is a behavior or set of behaviors that people adopt. She also said she thought leadership and change can happen one person at a time.

When I asked what role design plays in her work, she said that for her, design is the way to address the opportunity gaps in an organization. She said she differs from others in separating design thinking as a concept from the popularized methodologies out there. She and I agree on that, because while those models are great, they often don’t allow for nuances of culture, history, and people. In Dr. Ipes’ view, they elevate ideation above all.

One last insight that I appreciated from Dr. Ipe is that she said people don’t change because of a lack of good ideas. Rather, it is whether or not they have the support of a context that allow ideas to thrive and feel empowered and also to create the change. She said she believes that we are in a state of eternal design at ASU.

I’m glad to have had the chance to talk with Dr. Ipe, and I look forward to continuing to build a relationship with her and her team beyond this summer.