How Does Your Business School Change?
Through our work with more than 60 business schools we’ve learned a thing or two about how change occurs, or doesn’t, in institutions. Whether it is gathering the will to tackle a glaring but long-ignored shortcoming in the marketing function, determining to eliminate a dying academic program that has, as Eduvantis would say, “reached its peak in the product lifecycle,” agreeing to re-engineer an outdated admissions process or taking some other such important step, change often comes hard.
This, of course, has critical negative implications for business schools as they operate in a disrupted, rapidly changing and hyper-competitive environment – an environment in which change and market responsiveness is the foundation of competitive advantage. We’ve watched important – critically important problems get pushed under the rug, clearly correct decisions not get made and seemingly small problems eventually blossom into full-blown crisis, due to inaction.
Based on our experience, there are 5 main reasons that change is often hard in business schools (there are certainly more). Look out for them in your institution and consider their impact in your particular context.
- Cultural restrictions – “the faculty will revolt!”
- Lack of perceived alternatives – “how can we not have a FT MBA program?”
- Silos – “executive education is in a world of its own.”
- Ambiguity around values and priorities – “on what basis would we make this choice?”
- Insufficient objective, credible data – “my opinion and your opinion don’t agree.”
The work that we do at Eduvantis – which isolates with data and analysis the actual factors that drive institutional and program success in the marketplace – often puts us in direct contact with these “anti-change” forces. We’re frequently in front of faculty groups, for example, to explain – with data and analysis that must be “bullet proof” – exactly why a certain specialized master’s program has no objective hope of succeeding in its market or that the lack of sufficient hybrid delivery in the FT MBA program will continue to cause a 5% year-over-year drop in market share. Our advice to counter the above “big 5?” Get the data!
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