If you’re not Harvard you may need to come up with a better idea… or at least a more unique one. Consider being a boutique rather than generic b-school … your meaningful Outside may be more important than you think because you cannot be all things to all students.
Because tuition [read market]-driven revenue yet remains critical to the survival of most B-schools, your mO needs to be so distinctive and compelling that people will flock to your place. But this is risky business. You must:
- Check out your operating environment [remember, you’re not Harvard and your mO better be good. Your trusty SWOT might help here]
- Then come up with a cool idea [innovation ... giving away iPads is not enough]
- Then figure out how to get this idea out there fast [marketing ... unless you control your website you will die.]
- Then, survive the lag time until enough revenue shows up [a friend of mine once said that starting a business was simple – you only needed to have three things: 1) cash flow, 2) cash flow and finally, 3) cash flow.]
These days all of the above need to happen pretty quickly. The organizational inertia to get this underway can be staggering. As a scarred change agent involved in four different institutional “reinventions”, may I say, as in combat, that all plans collapse when the bullets begin flying.
The whole boutique idea assumes limited resources, faculty constraints and thorny choices. The basic algorithm posits that the more unique and distinctive your mO the more specialized your customer and value proposition.
Here’s a possible boutique profile:
- Less than 25 faculty
- A focused mix of faculty disciplines reflecting the mO
- In a competitive market [though not necessarily in a major urban area]
- Tuition dependent [over 50 per cent of revenue]
- Professionally accredited [preferably AACSB/EQUIS]
- Limited number of degree options
- Vulnerable enrollment
- A happy staff and faculty who buy in to the mO [ditto for the board]
The temptation for a generic b-school is to add degree programs to address markets. The appropriate and counter-intuitive solution is to chop programs until the offerings are simple and focused on the mO. The dead give-away for a school in mO trouble shows when the number of programs exceed the faculty FTE.
Bottom line = better boutique than sorry.