Schools hate businesses, businesses hate schools
As a gross generalization, schools hate business and businesses hate schools. Let me defend that: Schools hate business 1. Many academics view any skills that empowers an individual outside of academics as either “vocational” or “turning students into drones of capitalistic societies.” (Yet they have no problem rewarding skills that turn students into drones of academic environments.) I mention teaching subjects like “project management”and”solutions sales” to teachers and they recoil. 2. Professors are even encouraged to downplay their consulting to corporations. Even in b-school environment, what consulting is done, according the school mythology, is prostitution, a pursuit of lucre at the expense of integrity, unless it is done at the board level of a Fortune 500 company. 3. A lot of academics smile when the stock market dives, vindication of both their world view and their own personal career choice. Businesses hate schools 1. Businesses rail against classrooms, even their own training classes. Corporate people love to complain about training classes. “Classes don’t work!” “Training doesn’t teach anything.” “No one ever learned anything of important in a classroom.” Many training books and training professionals love quoting high profile individuals (such as CEO’s or brand-name consultants) hacking at classrooms, thinking “beyond the classroom.” If you listened to all of them talk, you would assume that employees are spending half of the lives trapped in basement lectures. Most people spend less time in classes than they spend waiting in line at their organization’s cafeteria. It reminds me a bit of the supporters of the a flag burning amendment. I wish people wouldn’t burn the American flag as much as anyone, but as far as I can tell, there is just not an epidemic of flag burning. And there sure is no epidemic of too much classroom training. The railing is really just posturing. 2. Business people love talking about academic reform. But when a company is performing sub-par, business people don’t talk about Xerox reform or corporate reform. They talk about change management, growth, and re-invention. They talk about “taking a short-term profit hit” to “restructure.” 3. Even amonst the corporations that do the most training, I have never seen a business sponsor an internal remedial history class, or art class, or literature class, or any kind of liberal arts experience. They say they respect it on a resume, but if you don’t arrive with it, they are sure not going to give it to you. 4. And businesses fight hard for tax breaks, which come out of school pockets. All with a big smile But both sides hide their animosity reasonably well. The development side of schools want donations from businesses. They talk to parents about preparing students for the future. Businesses want to appear helpful and benevolent and part of the community. It is only after the love-fest meetings and PR events do the real feelings emerge. And I believe the friction, the misalignment, this cold war between these two hurts students, hurts our GDP and standard of living, hurts schools, and hurts business. The Hope of T+D In our profession, literally of the people reading this blog, lies either the opportunity to bring these two worlds together, or to create a bigger wedge to push them apart. It is an opportunity (and yes, responsibility) that I hope we all consider as we present our ideas, shape our strategies, postore, define ourselves, and invest in and execute our plans.