"Would You Invest in a Firm with this Business Plan?" By Steven M. Sundre, William L. Bainbridge, and et al. Partners in Education. June 1991.

SchoolMatch IN THE NEWS

Would You Invest in a Firm With This Business Plan?

By Steven M. Sundre, William L. Bainbridge, and et. al.

Market Analysis and Strategy: Prospects and clients will not be consulted in the development of or future delivery of the service. The service will be marketed before the need is determined. The strategic focus will be changed frequently based upon fads or suggestions from outside consultants.

Advantages of Product or Service: The service is differentiated from other services in that its effectiveness cannot be evaluated. Attempts to do so will be considered counterproductive. The service will be initiated with a significant market share already in place with clients assigned by the government. Competition between divisions or sections will be strongly discouraged. Service will be provided whether clients need it or not.

Human Resource Management: Professionals will be employed on the same salary schedule regardless of the market for their specialty. Compensation will be based upon seniority and education level alone—not productivity. Few or no opportunities for advancement will be provided. Jobs will be created with little diversity from year to year. Little or no incentive will be provided for a job well done. Employees will be provided with 14 weeks paid vacation upon entering the firm. Staff training opportunities will be very limited and largely optional.

Management and Organization: Managers will be evaluated on the basis of popularity among employees and within the community—not productivity. Employees of competitors and potential competitors will serve on the board of directors. The sales and service force will grade its own work. When inclement weather occurs, employees will be permitted to stay home even if all other businesses are operating. Large portion of management’s time will be devoted to board meetings. All managerial candidates will be asked to publicly state their interest in a new position, even if it jeopardizes their current role in a competing organization.

Service Operations: The sales and service force will have limited contact with clients. Such limited contact will be reinforced by lack of access to telephones and word processing capacity. A new language of acronyms will be developed which will not be understood by clients. The sales and service force will be isolated with little opportunity to communicate.

Financial Information: Goods and services will be purchased from lowest-priced vendor regardless of reputation or past service record. Financial data about the firm will be reported in terms not understood by the client and will often be incomplete or inaccurate. Financial officers will generally have little experience in business. Certified Public Accountants and MBAs will be discouraged from applying.

Business Description: The business will be described as over 15,000 public school systems in the United States, serving over 45 million pupils and their families, with more than four million employees and spending in excess of $183 billion per year.

The answer to the question in the title is obvious. You already have invested in the "business" known as The American Public School. Regretfully, the marvelous idea which Horace Mann conceived is predicated on structures and principles unknown to the business community. Major restructuring is long overdue and is the only real answer for investing in our children—our nation’s future.

Steven M. Sundre and William L. Bainbridge are principals of SchoolMatch, an information service on public and private schools nationwide, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. For more information, call SchoolMatch at 1-800-SCHOOL-1.

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