The See-Through Registrar

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I always have a song in my head. Right now, it’s that 1972 classic by Johnny Nash, “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all the obstacles in my way.” Now it’s in your head, right? Good.

I say “good” because that song could be a parable for the Office of the Registrar, and the lyrics are all about how much better it is because “Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.”

“It’s gonna be a bright…”

Sorry – I got lost in the music 🙂

How does this song have anything to do with the Registrar’s Office? Simply this: we should be sweeping away the dark, the obscure, and shedding as much light as we can. Too often, though, we still cast shadows when we could be completely transparent.

Let me explain by telling a story. Long, long ago, customer service in my office was all about speed. Our technology was limited to pen and paper, binders and file folders. Self-service was not possible with this technology, so students lined up and were served by staff. The line-ups could get long so the emphasis was on keeping the waiting time as short as possible. Our staff was rewarded for processing students as quickly as possible: take registration form, time-stamp it, calculate the total tuition and fees and tell students how much they owed. Take cheque, stamp received, issue receipt. “Thank you. NEXT!!” All service was from behind a big, bank-like counter. The paper was taken, filed, locked in a file drawer.

Safe.

Hidden from view.

Gone.

Out of sight.

It might sound bad now, but it didn’t back then. It was normal. We did what we could with the technology we had. People stood in line for more than the Boxing Day Sale at Best Buy in those days. People didn’t expect to see more than this.

But the technology we have today makes the view so much better. Now there is no excuse to hide systems, policies, processes, forms, outcomes, etc. from students.

In a previous blog post, I asked the question, “When should you use technology and when should you hire people?” Here’s another answer: employ technology to be more transparent.

And why should we be more transparent?

Because it builds trust, responsibility and competence.

Stay tuned for more on this topic.

“It’s gonna be a bright… bright… sunshiny day!”

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