The #1 Thing Holding You back from Outcomes

Drumroll please… What’s the number one thing holding your institution back from outcomes? It’s not having a Relationship Strategy.

In 2012, Linda Baer & John Campbell co-wrote a piece in Gamechangers that changed the game for a small group by establishing the term “Learning Relationship Management”. They anticipated several new disruptions in analytics, one they named Learning Relationship Management:

“The growth of CRM as a collection point. Traditionally the “customer relationship management” (CRM) system has been focused on the admissions process. One could imagine future analytical tools coming together in a “learning relationship management” (LRM) system that would be open to faculty and advisors. The system would not only provide a central point for analytics data, but would also provide a way of tracking interventions and related results. The LRM system would provide a comprehensive foundation for end-to-end student support.”

Thus, making learning more personal and relational for everyone. Thinking about the future with this analytics tool makes it almost imperative that institutions develop a Relationship Strategy.

Watch this video to learn how to more easily manage the student lifecycle.

But first, what is a Relationship Strategy anyway?

In 2013, the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment (NCHEA) issued a crisis in higher education stating that “every college and university president and chancellor to make retention and completion a critical campus priority”.

The importance of relationships to student success in all parts of the student lifecycle is backed not only by concrete research but also common sense.

A study done by Stanford in 2011 found that students who had coaches in school had 10-15% retention and completion increases over their uncoached peers. This sounds promising right? All we need to do is be more mindful of creating relationships with our students. Then, problem solved. But here’s the issue:

Only 14% of students remember a professor who cared about them, made them excited to learn and encouraged them to follow their dreams”.

And we know that this not only leads to decreased success in college but also decreased success beyond school. Roughly 3/10 employees are actively engaged at work. Those that are engaged state that it’s critical relationships that push them to be more engaged.

What does this mean for the rest of us?

Now, more than ever, relationships matter and developing a relationship strategy matters. Here’s the bottom line:

“Coaching not only works, but it appears to be one of the more cost effective ways to produce better retention and graduation rates”.

Which means that we have a few critical questions to ask ourselves:

  • Do our students have relationships with peers, mentors, staff members and alumni?
  • Which students have which relationships?
  • Of those that do, how did the relationship form?
  • Of those that don’t, how do we give them access to these relationships?
  • What tools exist that allow me to facilitate the connections between students, staff, peers and alumni?

In a small group setting, facilitating the connections that are necessary for a student to be successful is relatively easy, but the reality is most advisors and coaches are managing hundreds of students at a time. This type of scale for student management and personalization is extremely difficult to achieve without a concrete plan and more often than not, software or suites of tools.

Download our suite of free student lifecycle management tools by clicking here.

A Relationship Strategy can be anything your institution comes up with, as long as it incorporates the critical pieces that students need to succeed, including relationships.

Cited Sources:

  1. Baer, Linda L., Duin, Ann Hill, “ Retain Your Students: The Analytics, Policies and Politics of Reinvention Strategies” Planning for Higher Education, April-June 2014,

  1. Baer, Linda L., Campbell, John, “Gamechangers”,
  1. Bettinger, Eric, Baker, Rachel, “Stanford study shows college student coaching improves retention and graduation rates” March 2011,
  1. Flaherty, Colleen, “Going Through the Motions? The 2015 Survey of Faculty Workplace Engagement” October 23, 2015,

Higher Education Agrees: Student Graduation Takes a Aillage

By Michael Horn, Clayton Christensen Institute and Intellus Learning, taken from eCampus News.

Don’t Be a One-Size-Fits-None Institution


Different students attend higher education for different reasons. Understanding a student’s “Job to be Done”— the reason people “hire” products or services in a given situation—in partaking in postsecondary education is critical to helping students stay on track for graduation.

The reason why is if a college doesn’t understand what a student is trying to accomplish, then it doesn’t know what experiences it needs to provide during the application process through graduation. And if it doesn’t understand what these necessary experiences are, then it is likely to integrate the elements of its enterprise in ways that are irrelevant to what students are trying to accomplish.

One of the core reasons many students struggle at certain colleges and universities is that these institutions have historically tried to cater to lots of people with lots of different jobs in an effort to be all things to all people. As a result, they aren’t structured in a way that is optimized for any particular Job and often become a “one-size-fits-none” institution.

Once a college understands the Job that its students are trying to do, it can organize around the experiences necessary to get that Job done by stitching together the right resources in the right way. This extends from creating academic programs tailored to students’ Jobs to optimizing the learning experiences within those academic programs, and from building the proper physical spaces to optimizing a student’s social supports.

Tools are emerging to help colleges affordably create these experiences. Colleges can use Intellus Learning to help faculty members choose content that is optimized for each student. Noodle Partners can help schools customize their online offerings. Emerging learning relationship management systems like Fidelis Education and Motivis can surround students with mentors and coaches to support them through college and into their careers. And Civitas Learning harnesses data to help colleges provide the right supports at the right time for the right student.

It’s early in this revolution, but understanding the Job is increasingly allowing institutions to use a range of tools to optimize a student’s experience and realize success.

Read the original article here.

Michael B. Horn is co-founder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute. He is an advisor to Intellus Learning and serves on the board of directors of Fidelis Education.