Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Culture-Building - Student Retention

This blog is a follow up to my Leaky Bucket - Student Retention blog in July 2010.

For a reason I'll explain in a future blog, I was researching competitive advantage strategies for my chapter dealing with training methods to prepare a person for combat. You'll have to wait to see how it all fits in. Since the business world has long plundered the martial arts world for concepts and theories to guide them in their competitive world, I thought it about time the martial arts world used their concepts and theories to understand and study our world.

Recall from the abovementioned blog that my strategy in rescuing the Jan de Jong Self Defence School from financial ruin was based on building a strong culture. Richard Koch, in The Financial Times Guide to Strategy: How to Create and Deliver a Useful Strategy, had this to say:
Sometimes a corporation's greatness, or its mediocrity, lies not in what it does but in the way that it does it.
The real force driving performance throughout the corporation's different businesses is the culture, the accumulated learning within parts of the firm (its 'competencies'), and the quality of its people and strength of their motivation.
A number of empirical studies have proved that companies with strong and constructive cultures, that stress teamwork and service to customers, and that create an unusual bond between employees and the firm, have been remarkably successful. Paradoxically, companies of this type actually compound shareholder wealth at a faster rate than those firms that stress profit making and shareholder enhancement as their principal business. For example, Robert Waterman, in his book (called What America Does Right in the US and The Frontiers of Excellence elsewhere) quotes two studies demonstrating this paradox, that companies not focusing on shareholder wealth actually outperform on this very dimension.
It is useful to distinguish between four different types of Competency and Culture-Building Corporate Strategy:
1. Maintenance, nurturing and fine-tuning of successful culture and competencies.
2. Realising the potential of existing culture and competencies, by focusing the firm's efforts on areas that best exploit these, and retrenching on areas that do not.
3. Maintenance and building of central functions where key competencies reside, and effective dissemination of these competencies to existing and new product business.
4. Radical change in culture and competencies; a transformation strategy.
Koch reinforces the strategy I successfully employed in turning around the flagging fortunes of the Jan de Jong Self Defence School in the 90s. For anyone who is an instructor or a principal of a martial arts school - focus on culture for student rention, and growth.

Until next time.

John Coles
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PS: In spite of this and the abovementioned blog, and my business qualifications and experience, my book has nothing to do with the business of managing or running a martial arts school from a management perspective.

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