Today — New Year’s Day 2008 — the university that has employed me for almost 17 years officially became Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T).
This name change comes after some 15 months of challenging communications work. Part of the challenge was trying to communicate to such a broad array of stakeholders in a relatively short time period. (Chris Brown of Branding & Marketing picked up on this in her Too many stakeholders post last March. “I think that rebranding a university is much harder than rebranding a company,” she wrote. “With a university the stakeholders feel much more ownership of the branding than the stakeholders in a company.” True that, Chris.)
One of the ways we attempted to communicate was through our Name Change Conversations blog, which we launched on Jan. 30, 2007. Over the past 11 months, that blog has been both a sounding board and a lightning rod for alumni, students, faculty, staff and others interested in the name change. As I posted that blog’s first post of the new year a little while ago, I reflected on this experiment in blogging for organizational change.
Over the past 11 months, we’ve tried to use this blog as an avenue to talk about the name change with our alumni, students, faculty and staff. As we said when we launched this site last January, we wanted it to be:
- a source for useful information about the proposed name change.
- a forum [for] discussion about the issues being raised by the proposal.
- an avenue for providing up-to-the-minute information about the proposal.
When this blog experiment began, the idea of a name change was still in proposal form. It is now reality. But even after moving from proposal to recommendation to unanimous endorsement from the University of Missouri Board of Curators and on through the process of picking a logo and other details of the implementation, I’d like to think that this blog has achieved its purpose.
I hope you agree. But if you don’t, well, that’s fine. It’s not like we haven’t had our disagreements in the past. But I hope you can at least agree that this forum has allowed you to freely express your opinions about the name change and to participate in a process that we have tried to make as open as possible.
In my opinion, “transparency” and “conversation” were two of the most overused buzzwords of 2007. But those two terms best express what we have tried to do with this blog. We have used this blog to make the process more transparent than it would have been otherwise, and we have used it to try to engage you in a meaningful conversation about this change in your university’s identity.
It will be interesting where this experiment goes in 2008.
Update: this FC Now post today seems particularly relevant.