How Good Are We?
Volume 9 Issue 3 News & Resources | March 2016
How Good Are We?
1. The ranking tools
How good are we in relation to others? Yes, it would be nice to know this. At least we know how to chart the way forward and correct what needs to be corrected. It is just part of being human that we like to know our status in society. Various ranking tools are available nowadays by utilizing numerous ranking instruments, i.e. measurement parameter. We rank things because we would like to sort the things which are within our grasp in order to make sense of it all. We arrange subjects and topics according to a story which is coherent and logical to our senses. This coherency element is very critical so that the narratives can be appreciated and later shared. In making sense of our experiences, ranking objects according to certain primitive parameters is only one of the tools available. We also classify, identify and select objects accordingly. The amount of information gathered will typically tally with the quality of the interactions, i.e. passive or active. Logically, an active mode of interactions with our surroundings will provide a richer array of information. But of course, the most important process is the internal evaluations of all the sensed data. Ranking has become ingrained into the way society rate each other. We give values to these rankings, rightly or wrongly. We adopt such a stance without deeper consideration of the varieties in circumstances and state-of-being.
2. The ranking game
To be able to survive and make good use of the ranking tools, we must “play” the game with sufficient knowledge and clear strategies. One must understand the rules, regulations and requirements to “play” the best of game. To win, there are many techniques and best practices to be implemented in each level of our endeavor. By evaluating our current capacity and capability, we pick and choose what and which tactical or strategic steps which will guarantee the biggest return. It is called a game, because one must not just be fit physically and mentally, proper strategies and tactical decisions must also be implemented. There will be winners and losers. As such, the winners will be praised and commended. A high position in the rank will also attract new investment and funding from various sectors. For a university, a top 10 position is more than enough as a selling point to attract entry of bright students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and excellent faculty members from around the world. The image of being highly ranked academic institution is very desirable in the current stiff competitions for new students and research funding, for example. In a way, a highly ranked university status will open up new opportunities for income generation and international collaborations.
3. Is it about branding?
Maybe we need to do more branding. Of course, the assumption is that we have already done some form of branding. If not, maybe it is high time to do so. We need to let people have more information about who we are and what we can offer to them. Probably some focus and investment into branding activities. Well renowned companies around the globe are known to have spent millions into branding activities. The logic is quite simple, actually. The more people knew us, the more trustworthy we became to them. Hence, when they are looking to solutions, we are among those they will refer to. A brand which is attractive and sticky will last forever. Well, not really. But, the least that would happen is that we will, most probably, outlive our competitors. The most important thing about branding is to let our target audience to be in the know of our strengths and our sincere efforts in improving them. We are providing the best services and the most cost-effective. As an academic institution, the branding culture is slightly different than other strictly commercial entities. Profit is one of the prime movers, but not the main one. Universities are here to educate societies and future generations. Universities are also the guardian of the knowledge fountains and always on the move to enhance whatever domain of knowledge available to the modern world. Academia has always been the backbone of civilizations. The current hype on branding should not cloud our appreciation of this noble intent of academia. Though a solid financial base is critical, it must not replace the real objective of having an academic institution. Money is everything, but everything needs money.
4. What is our self-worth?
The process of change can either be the “inside-out” or the “outer-in” approach, or a mix of both. When one has decided to change, the process may have been triggered by multiple factors. The process will also then lead to avalanche of activities. At the personal level, it would not so difficult to diagnose our limitations and problems. We can then prescribe some potential solutions which will bring us closer to our goals. Basically, we can try to quantify our self-worth and its growth to excellence. For an academic institution, the same processes may not be as straightforward and certainly, not an impossible challenge. Many real-life models and example are available to be emulated for this purpose. We just need to learn from others and set our path to glory. Our self-worth is for us to set and determine. Our worth is measured by how useful we are to others. I guess, in the current profit-oriented work culture, we need constant evaluations of our activities and how they impact the society as a whole. Between being force to change and wanting to change, the latter will sustain us longer in our struggle to be a meaningful agent of change and persistent champion of the goodness in the world.
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic” - John F. Kennedy
Written by :
Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering