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Distinct conference, 2012: Further details and a roundup of resources.
The Distinct Project
Using distinctiveness to achieve your strategic goals

It's now six weeks until our end-of project conference, on 12 June 2012, focussing on using distinctiveness to achieve your strategic goals; and in this fortnight's bulletin we turn our focus to the second topic on the programme: 'establishing your distinctiveness'. 

We hope you'll be able to join us on the day of the conference – when several Vice-Chancellors will share their experience on this, and other topics – in the meantime, we've prepared a suite of resources to support you with these issues. Some we’ve already shared with you, and some are due to be published shortly (see our round-up below). If you're interested in attending, just click find out more and register online to reserve one of the now limited places.

In previous bulletins we have looked at the case for change. In our next bulletin, we'll tackle the third stage in this journey: 'guiding your internal decisions'. For now, we hope you find the highlighted resources useful, and if you have any questions about these, or any questions that you'd like to see addressed on the day, please do get in contact.
 
 
Establishing your distinctiveness 

Establishing a university’s strengths and weaknesses relative to other institutions is crucial if distinctiveness is to play a part in achieving its strategic goals. This second stage of the path towards a distinctive identity involves a robust, evidence-led approach towards establishing what exactly sets you apart from others – and makes you memorable and attractive – to the people you wish to engage with.
 
It is important to note that it is good to uncover multiple strengths about your institution. Searching for one distinctive factor, or Unique Selling Point (USP) makes for a fragile claim that could easily be replicated. And in any case, universities are highly complex organisations – it is unlikely (and nor would you wish to claim it) that there is one special thing about your institution. A blend of attributes is likely to be what defines your institution.
 
Our research at the Distinct project has shown that for a university, there are three essential criteria on which a distinctive attribute must be assessed: everything you wish to claim as distinctive must be real, rare and relevant. Real, because the evidence you uncover about what you currently are (and about your position in the sector) is crucial for your claim for distinctiveness to be robust, authentic, and therefore demonstrable. Rare, because if others can replicate it now or in the future, this will no longer be a distinctive attribute that only you can claim. And relevant – because if there is no value for your context and audience in the distinctiveness you claim, there is no point in shouting about it.

Here's a roundup...
Coming soon:
 
> Case study: Teesside University
> Case study from beyond the sector: Brains brewery
Invite a colleague!

There are still a few places left at the Distinct 2012 conference. If you've already reserved your own place, why not forward details to a colleague.

#distinct12 
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