Higher Ed Spotlight: Embrace Uncomfortable Collaboration to Win Project Scope

Decision-makers in higher education are doing everything they can to attract students and reverse a post-COVID downward trend in enrollment. But, short-term incentives like free laptops, more online classes, and new scholarships are not going to get it done.

Construction and design firms that participate in the higher education ecosystem need to become part of the solution. You can advance the conversation by helping higher education clients think bigger and broader about leveraging their assets to create dynamic offerings that will bring students back to campus.

By embracing this role, you’re no longer just another firm showing up looking to win work. You’re positioning yourself to be leveraged for value and impact to help transform campuses and create more revenue-generating opportunities for both the institution and your firm. It’s a win-win opportunity.

However, to be successful in this role, you will need to bring in additional players that can help you strategically turn these new ideas into reality. Engaging with both sides of the equation (your client and potential project/scope delivery partners) requires a truly collaborative approach.

Your team may not be accustomed to these types of conversations — and some of the conversations may be clumsy or awkward at first — but the benefits are well worth the required effort. Let me help you push through this early stage of client engagement so that you can advance down the path toward successful collaboration.

Where to Start With Collaboration In Higher Education

The first step to successful higher education collaboration is to understand whether the institution’s plans have changed. Don’t make assumptions. Dig into what’s changed since the pandemic to better understand where the institution is going.

Ask to discuss the institution’s master plans. See if the institution is heading in a new direction such as offering completely new degree programs to attract students, re-purposing certain buildings to transform the campus, or expanding their partnerships with the business community to introduce new training facilities. Unlock clues about the change.

Here’s an important follow-up step. Determine who owns the change. Who in the organization is responsible for the strategy behind the change and the execution of the change? You need to find these leaders, understand the obstacles in their way, gather intelligence about their competing priorities, and identify pathways to help them conquer challenges to support the new direction.

It’s likely that your firm never engaged with these leaders before. Perhaps you sold to one decision-maker at one level in the organization to grab one piece of project scope. But, this is a bigger game. Your team needs to conquer awkwardness and clumsiness by engaging with different decision-makers that own the change.

The reward is tremendous. You will suddenly have a much better understanding of the larger problem that your client is looking to solve in the post-pandemic environment. Then, you can better determine how to bring P/SDP partners into your solution to help address the larger challenge.

Engage With P/SDPs That Can Help Deliver the Solution

If you already have a sense of uneasiness thinking about how to engage with different decision-makers in higher-ed, then you may feel even more uncomfortable determining how to bring P/SDP partners into the equation.

Let me put you at ease. P/SDP partners already understand the challenges that your target client is facing. They know how the decision-making process works, they understand the issues behind the issues that the institution is wrestling through, and they understand how to align with the institution’s mission.

P/SDPs have a lot to offer to your team. They can help you confirm what you discovered when talking to decision-makers and the leaders who own the change in the institution. They can also broaden your view and provide you with context so that you continue to align with the bigger issues that your client is facing trying to increase enrollment and revenue.

Then, when you engage with the higher-ed client, you will be able to bring these P/SDPs into the conversation to have more fruitful and productive conversations about how the institution can leverage their assets to turn visions into reality.

You’re no longer just trying to feel out the client. You’re not stumbling through the dark of awkward get-to-know-you conversations. You conquered discomfort thanks to doing your homework and gaining more perspective from P/SDPs. Now, you’re truly connecting and talking about how to actually create project scope that can transform a college campus.

It’s a transformative experience. You will soon find yourself developing impactful solutions and joining forces with collaborative partners to implement these solutions. When you develop this level of authentic connection to support project scope delivery, then you will find that interacting with your clients is much more rewarding and lucrative than you ever expected.

Find Support With Higher Ed Collaboration

Ready to get uncomfortable on the path to revenue growth? We can help you understand how to leverage your existing connections and make some new connections to craft more comprehensive solutions that address your target client’s post-pandemic challenges.

Through our proven methodology, The Connection Process, we’ll help you identify decision-makers in higher education to engage with and help you form stronger connections with P/SDPs to support project delivery. We’ll also provide coaching to you and your team on how to engage with these individuals to support project scope delivery.

There is power in your connections, so let’s tap into these resources to work toward collaborative problem-solving with your higher-ed clients. Enrollment isn’t going to turn around itself. Be part of the solution helping institutions re-imagine the college experience to deliver greater value to their students.

Ready to get started? Contact us today to schedule a coaching session with our team. Let’s work on developing a winning formula for client engagement that will produce revenue growth for your firm.


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