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Great leaders look for opportunities to change, evolve, adapt

By Nicki Donnelson

UniteNews Contributing Writer


They say the only constant is change, and for us, that’s exciting.

Being that efactory serves startups, entrepreneurs, and employers across the region, we are surrounded by people looking to approach the world differently.

In addition to helping startups, we’ve served local companies with all sorts of coaching and developed custom training to drive innovation and initiate organization-wide change.

Thanks to incredible champions for change cheering us on, we’ve also been emboldened to employ new tactics and expand our services.

One Missouri State University leader who has shared our vision has been President Clif Smart.

President Smart’s vision

President Smart was the third university president to oversee the evolution of the downtown Springfield community as IDEA Commons grew from an idea to a reality. And his time at the helm has seen the most dramatic change – from dilapidated areas to dazzling spaces.

He has shepherded significant policy changes, facility rebirths, and legislative priorities throughout his tenure. It’s not hyperbolic: He’s played a pivotal role in creating a vision that has shaped Missouri State, our community and state.

In September, President Smart announced his plan to retire from Missouri State in the summer of 2024.  He is completing the current academic year, and there is an active search for a new university president underway.

It was under his tenure that in January of this year, he expanded the scope of efactory. Through this expansion, we have established a greater focus on our employer partnerships program. We also added all noncredit training from MSU as well as student employment under our umbrella – all to ensure we meet the needs of businesses who want to connect with MSU.

This has been a game-changer for us, and we think it will continue to gain momentum for all of the applications this employer partnerships program could have to positively impact the community and our region’s economic growth.

We wish him well in his retirement, and as a whole, efactory wants to provide a very public sincere thank you for his support over the years.

Inviting innovation into an organization

In 2022, the university’s Executive Vice President Zora Mulligan and Provost Dr. John Jasinski came to MSU as leaders who would strategically evaluate the university; complete an analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and propose ideas to make improvements.

Last month, Mulligan partnered with efactory to offer the first-ever Innovation Accelerator at MSU.

As a group of innovators and problem solvers, our team worked alongside her to host this event. We were enthralled that the university would invest in this type of exercise that systematically busts through tired approaches and unnecessary silos.

The Innovation Accelerator was a huge success with a cross-section of individuals from all areas of the university. Approximately 100 students, faculty, and staff worked together to identify better ways of doing things, save money, or improve the university experience.

But beyond that, innovation accelerators offer an opportunity for organizations to identify rising stars from within the ranks, consider new possibilities and build morale. This is something we hope to see more organizations taking advantage of in the future.

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