Define your own impact or be beholden to others’ definitions

Note: Adapted from Twitter thread originally posted by @BerondaM August 27, 2017

It’s that time of year…annual review time for faculty and academic staff. Undoubtedly as a part of these conversations, there is some discussion of impact. Increasingly, units and institutions are moving to try to capture quantitative measures of impact.

Such quantitative measures are embraced by some and eschewed, or at least looked at askance, by others.

This annual foray into receiving and processing such feedback led me to reflect on a twitter thread I wrote last year, which I share in full (and amplified version) here:

I’ve been in many conversations and read much about academic impact recently. One thing I personally will not cede is defining my own impact through my carefully cultivated B-Index – with attention to context. Yes, certainly there are standards of progress and success in every ‘institution’ in which we work and seek to build paths of success and maybe eventually seek to lead. However, I’ll always prioritize cultivating a personal vision of success, leadership, AND IMPACT, then seek to find a place in which that vision of success can be possible and actively pursued.

When we start conversations from the perspective of the institution’s view of success, first and foremost in our thoughts and words, we can send the message (intentionally or inadvertently) that wholesale adoption and pursuit of that ‘vision’ of success and impact is the only way forward.

I fully embrace the idea that individual scholars’ visions of success and impact should be centered and that we should recognize how pursuit of these contribute to goals of the institutions in which these scholars are embedded. Our institutions will be enriched when we can more fully embrace multiple paths, means, and definitions of success and impact. However, for such perspectives to take hold and have (what I believe can be) the enriching outcomes truly possible, it means that wholesale change in the way we listen to, review and promote, as well as #mentor scholars is desperately needed. This can all only have the intended and lasting impact and outcomes with MAJOR changes in leadership – including the way we recruit, select, reward, and advance leaders. Such changes are not easy to enact or shepherd…but change is needed!!!

As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter discussing mentoring, leading, and other topics at @BerondaM

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