Historically schools and colleges have moved on with a scale of very little change. Society changes, economy changes, politics changes, and now we have experienced technology change. Looking at anyone of these attributes we can see these changes are so great they don’t even to appear to be the same company they were years ago. When something works well then why do we change? When looking at American companies from when they started how do they look today. Below is a list of companies who have a long history of existence. What has been their secret or grand plan to remain viable and healthy.
- IBM 1911, scales and punchcard machines and later large mainframes (today: business intelligence, software, hardware)
- Xerox 1906, photographic paper (today toner, ink, software, printers, copy machines)
- Nokia 1865, paper mills, rubber works and cables (today phones and games)
- Monsanto 1901, Saccharin (today roundup, genetically engineered seed)
- GE 1892, Light bulb (today gas engines, hybrid locomotives, HD CT scanners, sound devices, chemical sensors)
- Fortune Brands 1969, who were previously know as American Brands, Tobacco (today hardware, home furnishings, golf clubs, cabinets)
- Du Pont 1802,Gun powder ( today adhesives, insecticides, fire extinguishers, weatherization systems)
- Corning 1851, glass, (today optical fiber, cell phone covers, telescopic mirrors, television screens)
- Apple 1976, personal computer kit, (today ipad, ipod, online music, iphones)
- 3M 1902, Sandpaper (today scotch tape, duct tape, post it notes, cleaning products)
Why would we look to these companies when talking about schools and colleges? Success stories like these are the blueprint to remaining a vibrant and purposeful organization to the society they serve. Their side track they took in the services had to remain relevant. Leadership even when distracted by negative influences are still on track with doing what they do best.
There are lessons to be learned from the leadership of these companies. As anyone can see they ventured into new territory and became successful by not allowing any negative influences forget what they did best. Each re-engineered company never allowed one source of income to be the life line of their mission. Career schools before selling their heart and soul to government control were successful in providing the graduates with certificates, diplomas and later associate degrees to an ever growing need for early entry employees with skills. Some of these schools boasted how companies had hired entire program graduates from their schools. The career school environment was healthy and respected. As each year went by and schools became more dependent on government funding the destiny of any school was being subjected to rules and regulations with rule makers in Washington D.C. The prospect of states determined the fate of their schools was quickly vanishing. The legacy of government today has built a brazen path that has placed schools into being a political football. Placing students, teachers and parents into the vicious contemptuous rhetoric of supporting schools by tearing them down. It is easy to be a critic when the only solution is to eliminate the education body you are so vehemently against. American history has shown the ills of taking anything we don’t like, trust or targeted by annihilation results in later remorse.
Our societal survivors never lost faith in what they believed were principles of high integrity of what they were and symbolized. This is why I contend our school leadership should look at what brought them to the added value they once were so proud in providing. While escaping the fear we should turn this around into pride and show the communities we serve, that we can still stand tall.
Gary R Carlson