May 27, 2016

Lessons Learned #1: The Grass Is Never Really Greener

Lesson Learned #1: The Grass is Never Really Greener

We have all heard the age old adage:  the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, right?  Actually, when it comes to the strategic issues facing independent schools and colleges, it is surprisingly not true.  Travel to and work with over 250 independent schools and colleges and you will learn two things very quickly:  1) all schools have issues and 2) they come in all colors, shapes, and sizes.

Pick whatever issue you would like to examine.  Whether it be enrollment, culture, leadership, management, finance, information management, campus planning, location, or curriculum, all schools and colleges have their issues.  We have yet to find a school or college that is hitting on all cylinders, all the time.  They all have issues – some large, some small; and some obvious, and some modestly hidden.  The challenge is identifying the issue using sound research.  

But, with challenge comes opportunity.  Sure, all schools and colleges have their issues.  But, with each situation emerges a unique opportunity.  I have learned over the years that all schools and colleges enjoy unique opportunities that perhaps no one else in their marketplace or region could capitalize.  Every school or college is uniquely qualified to do something extraordinary.  Again, you just have to work hard to find that George Bailey moment. (With challenges come opportunities will be a future #lessonslearned topic.)

One more takeaway? The schools that on paper seem to “have it all together” simply don’t always have it all together.  Even the most resourced, established, and financed schools have their challenges.  So, while it might be easier to assume that everything is working wonderfully well somewhere else, the simple fact of the matter is that it is not true.

So, #lessonslearned #1?  The grass is never really greener.  All schools and colleges have their issues.  We are more similar than we think.  Our issues may be unique to us, but the fact that we have issues is not.

OK – this is beginning to sound like a therapy session. Have a great Memorial Day weekend and keep watching on social media for the hashtag #lessonslearned.  Share and contribute as you wish. 

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