Although the residential curriculum model was designed to support student learning on college campuses, the concepts in curricular approaches are equally as applicable to business and everyday work concepts. As outlined by Kerr, Tweedy, Edwards, and Kimmel (2017), curricular approaches are guided by “10 essential elements.” At Roompact, we find many of these elements align with how we support our clients, from the start of the sales process through to the implementation of our software.
Out of the ten essential elements, here are five that will help to ensure any process is successful for the long-haul:
Connects to Mission (Element 1)
An effective sales and implementation process must evolve out of a company or entity’s core mission. This holds true across all business sectors. A strong connection to one’s mission ensures focus and common understanding across staff members about the “why” of each process. Missions do not frequently change. In this sense they act as a constant and consistent guide post.
A common theme in mission statements of successful organizations is their focus on the customer (or the student, the client, etc.). For example, here is how some organizations characterize their mission:
We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services. In meeting their needs, everything we do must be of high quality. — Johnson & Johnson corporate purpose
The mission of Harvard College is to educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society. We do this through our commitment to the transformative power of a liberal arts and sciences education. — Harvard College mission statement
We’re big believers in the power of keeping it simple. Every bet we’ve ever placed on making something easier for our partners has always paid off. — Basecamp corporate purpose
At Roompact, the Roompact Pact is our mission and promise that informs everything we do. We promise to be partners working with our colleagues to impact residential student learning, which is why our sales process continues weeks after the initial contract is signed, and is followed by a detailed customer success plan. For us, success is defined not only by finding the right partners and earning their trust, but also by investing in their continuous improvement.
Key Stakeholders Are Identified and Involved (Element 8)
In the context of the curricular approach, stakeholders and partners are identified for collaboration. This includes internal and external partners ranging from a department’s own staff members to experts and departments across campus (health centers, academic support centers, libraries, performing arts, etc.). As George Keller explains, “Higher education is largely a people business. Much depends on the quality of the students, professors, trustees, and leaders and on the loyalty of the graduates.”
Success also depends on good communication, something that can easily be overlooked. Donald Birx, President of Plymouth State University, in discussing the university’s recent revamping of its campus-wide curriculum, states, “Everybody says ‘communication,’ but I can’t emphasize how much that helped. By communication I really mean going out there and talking to people…”
In the business environment, identifying key stakeholders will more than likely mean identifying other business units needed to successfully carry out one’s mission. In the early days of Roompact, all of our operations, including sales, client success, receivables, and technology, were managed by a small team in a single office. Communication between internal stakeholders was pretty easy: managing a handoff between sales and the technology teams literally required swiveling around in one’s chair.
Today, our team is bigger and we have more clearly defined roles (e.g. sales, client success, software design) which are all still focused on the same overarching goal: satisfying the needs of our partners. Getting the right people engaged is pivotal and has enabled us to develop a number of internal tools to replace what used to be manual, laborious processes. Our team has made it a priority to share information about partner needs to ensure the smoothest handoff possible. Inclusion of different expertise and viewpoints have enabled us to provide higher quality products and services to our partners in less time than before.
Scaffolding and Sequencing (Element 7)
The curricular approach prescribes the scaffolding and sequencing of learning experiences–whereby learning opportunities are organized to build successively more sophisticated knowledge and skill over time. This is achieved by meeting the student “where they are” and building out a roadmap for where one hopes they will go. Effective educators learn something about the students they seek to teach before developing their educational plans. They then build a process that helps guide individuals along the learning journey. Professionals in business also employ these same techniques: a salesperson educating a prospective buyer on benefits of her products, a doctor educating a patient on a course of treatment, or a lawyer walking their client through the details of their case.
At Roompact, in our search for new partner institutions, the first communication we send is an e-mail. At this point in our sales process, we have done our research to qualify the institution, so our goal is to determine whether the institution may be interested in Roompact (and if so, to set up a call to learn more). The e-mail is brief and includes a personal introduction and one sentence about Roompact. It takes less than 15 seconds to read, which we think is a factor in why it is been successful: the people we’re reaching out to are busy and receive a lot of e-mail from vendors.
We keep our initial communications short and simple because that’s what our audience responds to. Only after we complete our research and first phone call will we have a good understanding of (A) the problems they are trying to solve and (B) if Roompact is a good fit. These are all stages in a learning and educational process that is intentionally designed for each one of our potential partners.
Assessment Occurs at All Levels Along With Continuous Review (Elements 9 and 10)
The final essential elements, where assessment occurs at all levels and the overall curriculum is continuously reviewed, reminds us that our work should be based in data and constantly be updated for increasing effectiveness. The most successful organizations are relentless in their drive to continuously retain happy and successful customers. Achieving this requires constant attention, good communication, and a clear set of goals.
Assessment objectives in a business sector are likely to be skewed towards measurement of financial outcomes (e.g. revenue) and key performance indicators, with the latter providing measurement of paramount business activities (e.g., new accounts, contract renewals, etc.). Although a business’ financial health is of the utmost importance, focusing solely on a financial bottom line is short sighted.
At the center of The Roompact Pact is our promise to put the needs of our partners above the needs of all other stakeholders. Therefore, in addition to paying close attention to financial outcomes, we must utilize tools to accurately measure concepts like user satisfaction, level of user engagement with the platform, and willingness of users to recommend our products and services to their peers. To this end, we’ve experimented with a number of ways to measure user satisfaction and usage, from periodically sending a short email survey, to examining site usage data and support ticket evaluations, and more. It is through this data and continuous review that we strive towards excellence.
Although the 10 essential elements were originally devised to ground sound pedagogical practice and promote student learning in the residence halls, the principles of the approach and design have broad applicability to a number of settings. As a learning organization, Roompact utilizes and deploys many of these same principles in our work. So although we do not expressly work on a college or university campus, there are many ways in which our work mirrors the partners with which we work.