There are Many Endings

 – “A wise man once told me, there are many endings. But the right one is the one you choose.”  Jennifer Goines.

I’m addicted to the 12 Monkeys.  Time may be a fickle mistress, but she’s awfully hard to live without.  At least the show’s writers think so.

Why am I writing about the 12 Monkeys?

Well, with a new budget model and university strategic plan in place and with an AACSB visit and end of my fifth year as dean close at hand, my mind has turned to thinking about what the next five years will hold.  What should the College look like in 2022 and how do we get there?  As General George Patton famously said and the 12 Monkeys demonstrates, “no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.”  But, that’s not an excuse for not having one.  It just means a good plan is a flexible plan…one that positions you to take advantage of a range of possibilities rather than forces you to bet everything on a single vision of the future.  Conditions change, you learn, the future reveals itself grudgingly…in fits and starts rather than smooth straight lines.  Ask Jennifer, she’ll tell you. (anybody see that season finale reveal coming?)

So, to help me and my colleagues imagine possibilities, I’d like some input from the local business community on what you see as the most fundamental changes you will face in running your business over the next five to ten years. Not changes in tax policy or government spending, but changes in markets, consumers, technology and delivery modes that influence how and where you compete and the kinds of talent you need.  As a business school, we have to prepare students to compete in that world.  And some of those same changes are likely to impact the fundamentals of our business (the business of higher education) as well.  I’m going to give this assignment to my Dean’s Advisory Board too.  The more specific you can be in detailing the fundamental change you see coming and how it will impact your business and how we prepare students, the better.  

Thanks in advance. In exchange, I’ll let you know how your insights influence our strategic planning process.  Let’s make the end of 2022, the one that we choose.

4 thoughts on “There are Many Endings

  1. Quick thoughts concerning the specific details for a fundamental change in our business school and how it will impact our new business students:
    1. Continue to improve one self’s competency by maximizing the uses of resources: There are so many resources that are now available in our business school and the library, new students should take advantage of all to learn new skills. These new skills will prepare our students and will make them ready for changes of the competitive business environment.
    2. Leadership mindset and innovation: Encourage our students to have the characteristics they need it to fit into the technology and consumer’s driven market. The business school should produce and encourage innovators to implement their ideas quickly.
    3. Ask questions and have conversations with students and professors constantly:
    Is there an innovative culture influenced?
    Is there a commitment from our students and professors to finding new ideas and ways to satisfy the competitive market’s needs?
    Are professors committed to helping our students become an innovation leaders?
    Do professors and students willing to think differently?
    Can the top management in business school implement quickly in execution?

  2. I’ve heard it said that we usually overestimate the next five years, and underestimate the next twenty. From the research we’ve done for our show, we believe that Generation Z will also be confronted with the same economic winter Millennials are weathering today. These days, young adults are constantly told to “follow their passion”, only to find that their field is oversaturated with talent just as qualified as they are. Many graduates have creative aspirations, and I believe we’re going to see an ever increasing focus on the independently branded individual— a person who holds many titles across multiple complimentary industries. Companies that have been suffering from high turnover will embrace shorter-term 1-3 year contracts with independent talent powerhouses for as long as the deal is mutually beneficial.

    Businesses that continue to employ draconian labor policies will find themselves utterly consumed by competitors with low overhead, nimble management, and progressive hiring practices. Young adults are wary of signing over their independence to anyone who they feel is holding them back; they’ll gravitate to the handful of companies in every sector that are profitable at multiples previously unseen. From small businesses to titans of industry, the firms that will survive the next wave of innovation are those that create an environment where their workers are given the chance to be more valuable as part of a team then they could be on their own.

  3. Here are the changes that I’m seeing and expect to accelerate in the coming years. Several are focuses within my industry (Management Consulting). Academia is lagging industry on many of these topics — particular when looking at the standard ASCCB undergrad management degree.

    Big Data – When I started working it was fashionable to work in Excel and when you maxed that out work with MS Access to narrow the data sets. Then we moved into local SQL servers. Now, data has exploded and the notion of a database on a hard drive or local server is cute. Every B-school grad needs to be comfortable working in an analytical platform (SAS, R) and with code (SQL, Python, Scala) and in the cloud. This will become as fundamental as interpreting financial statements or running NPV.

    Analytical Savvy – It’s not enough to be able to manipulate data. B-school grads need to know how to interpret it to maximize stakeholder value. Customers want experiences customized and data can help do that. But, it only works if it is interpreted correctly. Accountants will be mining transactions looking for abnormalities. Predictive analytics will be used to drive sales growth. The standard business statistics course just doesn’t provide the needed rigor.

    Mobility and Virtual Work – Like working in an office? Well, be prepared to work from home. Offices will continue to go away. As broadband speeds increase and gigabit connections become a common, offices will become more and more irrelevant. I spend more than 50 percent of my time in my home office. This brings about the necessity for B-school grads to be prepared to work independently and remotely. Learning how to self-manage work and make an impact while interacting virtually with your colleagues and employees across the globe is a real skill that needs to be taught.

    Product and Service Delivery – Drones, 3D Printers, and digital content delivery. How products are delivered and what we expect of our products will change dramatically. B-schools need to prepare students for the new delivery methods and the risks and opportunities associated with managing them.

    Artificial intelligence, robotics and IoT – Technology will increasingly replace rote and procedural jobs. Entry-level job seekers will need to be capable of more. They will need to display creativity that can’t be programmed. B-school grads will need to display creative decision acumen on day one.

    Diversity – Organizations will continue to become more and more diverse. This brings tremendous potential for designing better products and services that are tailored to our increasingly diverse population. International business is and will be just business. B-schools need to push their students into non-English speaking international experiences (sorry England and Australia) where future growth is expected – primarily in Latin America, Africa, or Asia.

    Sustainability – As the global population nears 10 Billion, businesses will be challenged to become more sustainable. This way of thinking is not contrary to profit maximization, but requires strategic ways of thinking that B-schools can foster. Closed loop supply chains, sustainable sourcing, and sustainable design need to be emphasized. B-school students should be prepared to think about the long-term effects of their firm’s products.

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