Disruption Causes Innovation

By Jennifer Sengpiel, Head of Enrollment

We’ve all heard the sayings “make the best of a bad situation,” “find the silver lining,” and my personal favorite, “make lemonade out of lemons.” Well, we’ve all been given a bountiful crop of lemons to make lemonade for years to come. Last year brought a pandemic the likes of which mankind hasn’t dealt with in over a century. Certainly, most of us alive today have never grappled with this type of disruptor. At Westminster, we’ve been asking this question: how can we take this pandemic, this disruptor, and create our own silver lining or lemonade? As Christians, we know that God never gives us more than we can handle, and the events of the past year were not a surprise to Him.

“Disruptive Innovation” is a term coined in the early 1990s by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. Fundamentally, the term asks a very important question: how can you turn disruptions into opportunities? As it relates to organizations, disruptive innovation has been widely misunderstood. It is not about breakthrough technologies that make processes or products better; it’s about innovations that make them more accessible and relatable, therefore serving more people.

Westminster is embracing disruptive innovation. We must continue to evolve and adapt to serve our community and God’s kingdom. As our vision states so eloquently, we are here to prepare and equip more young men and women to engage the world and change it for Jesus Christ. Change it, not remain idle.

Our admissions practices were seriously disrupted by the pandemic. We couldn’t do large-scale events, group tours, or student shadow visits. We had to innovate the way we connect and share the Westminster experience. This innovation needed to build relationships in a time where social distancing was no longer an abstract concept. Our heart and desire is to connect with families, hear their stories and goals, and share our mission — tell our story and why we exist. It is never a forced fit; we want the Lord to connect our hearts and move people to Westminster.

With these paramount tenets in mind, we developed a more personal and individualized approach with our prospective families. We now hold one-on-one family tours connecting with students and parents on a much deeper level. Each family is matched with an admissions partner who remains connected with them through the entire application process, answering questions and helping them connect with our community. Our admissions team uses video emails to develop stronger connections digitally. We overhauled our open house into two sessions focused more on what we believe and bringing to life what learning within a biblical worldview looks and feels like. As God’s children, we all come with different gifts. We want to truly see each of our applicants and partner with the whole family to create a learning experience that not only glorifies Christ but challenges them appropriately.

Ultimately, the disruption of the pandemic has provided us an opportunity to innovate not only with how we connect with our community but also in how we educate and much more. It’s a time that has caused unrest, but I’m very excited that the Lord has us firmly in His grasp, and the future looks bright and innovative!

This piece appeared in the Spring 2021 Chimes.

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