Can’t say that I am an expert but I do have a lot of experience conducting interviews for feasibility studies at colleges, museums and other entities. Feasibility studies are just that…is it feasible to conduct a campaign for certain initiatives that enhance the institution, advance the mission or strategically guide a group. Good data helps the institution waltz through the initiatives moving as one, following the steps, performing in concert.
As a Rich Gross Solutions, Inc. consultant who comes to a college or other entity from the outside, my job is to get good data, to enhance the dance between the lead consultant and the executives at the institution, to move the organization to the next level. Why an outside consultant? First, we usually don’t have any history with the audience and we don’t carry the baggage or preconceived ideas of a local entity. People tell it like it is and then some! My job is to write that information down without inserting my opinions or beliefs. We get the story from many different perspectives. We also get confidential information that is provided because we not connected with the college. We get insights on some of the factions that may or may not impact the study. But most of all, we get the straight scoop about the college and initiatives being tested. Good data.
Second, through our process people are reassured that the information they provide is held confidential – the college or organization never sees the completed interview sheets. The data comes back to the college or organization compiled in a report keeping the confidentiality of the interviewee. This is good data and good for the client. Some times this can be rather disconcerting and the lead consultant is contacted about specific information. Sometimes people want to find out who is negative and will cause a problem. Just as a tango requires rigid form, so too the college needs to trust the lead consultant and the information held out that makes or breaks a deal in the next stage. Confidentiality begets good data.
At times I become the conduit for a donor to gift the college, sometimes I find out why they will not support the college, sometimes the feasibility study becomes a bridge to a partnership, sometimes it uncovers a dire need for top administration to make amends and welcome back a friend to the college. Sometimes the data shows a glaring problem to be addressed before launching into a campaign. It is not how to hide or ignore the elephant in the room – it is how to dance with the elephant. Good data helps the institution make solid decisions on how to proceed, lead and motivate, how to build partners in the community, how to create innovations in higher education, how to dance together – being in sync with the community and its higher education needs.