Visit countless independent school and college campuses. Conduct stakeholder research to learn about their strengths and identity. Complete a competitive analysis on the marketplace. And, sort out the demographic trends for their core markets. Synthesize it all together and I have learned that every school or college possesses a distinct opportunity to be successful and sustainable contributors to their marketplace.
Opportunity abounds in this industry. The challenge with opportunity though, is that it may not be the sort of chance that we seek. It might require organizational change to be successful. It might mean altering a set of programs, services, or taking a risk. Some needed change might be evolutionary in nature. And, some change might be revolutionary in nature. And, some might be downright counterintuitive. But, I have learned that nearly every independent school and college possesses a distinct opportunity to be successful and sustainable. They just have to find it in the research, seize upon it in their planning, and overcome the needed organizational obstacles that will undoubtedly stand in their way.
Now, is it true that there are some rare cases where a school or college has so few strategic opportunities, such redundancy of services in the marketplace, such difficult competitive or external forces, that it might be best for them to pack it up, close, or consolidate? Yes, but it has been my experience that those cases are few and far between. In fact, in only two instances in a career spanning over 250 clients have we been asked to consider the evidence for closing an organization.
We often hear at gatherings and professional conferences that our industry is in a tough place and ripe for innovative disruption. I wholeheartedly agree. Lessons Learned #5? Opportunity abounds for our industry sector, if we have the courage to pursue it.