A New Business School Dean’s Guide to Life: 10 strategic considerations for your first 100 days

Experience tells us that great beginnings matter for these reasons:

  • clear purpose calms winds of change
  • seeing (“our future”) becomes believing
  • strong messages invite loyalists
  • trust takes root

A New Business School Dean’s Guide to Life

The number and variety of decisions, opportunities and challenges that come with assuming leadership of a major business school require a steady hand. Below, we’ve put together 10 strategic considerations for your first 100 days to help you navigate from analysis to synthesis.

1. Strategic Planning
What mix of analytical insights, high-level metrics, broad directional focus and ambitions will galvanize faculty, partners and prospects — and tap unrealized energies and potential within your school?

2. Brand
How do I mature our understanding of and grow our aptitude for brand — visual and voice — so that internal teams can communicate with broad and fine brush strokes, and inspire the school community to act more as one, bound by a newfound sense of shared purpose?

3. Reputation
How do I empower various teams — communications, development, alumni, recruiting, corporate/government relations — to transcend outdated silo thinking and embrace the integrated nature of reputation building in the age of digital channels and content?

4. Enrollment
How do I look beyond broad measures — school-wide and department-wide enrollment trends — and arrive at a more granular and precise assessment of our ability to achieve predictable and reliable enrollments for my school, and attract increasingly robust, motivated and diverse students?

5. Content & Publishing
How do I bring a “content is destiny” perspective to my school, and turn all publishing — academic, research, alumni, general audience — into a reputation-building, Google-dominating cooperative enterprise that powers enrollment, reputation and fundraising?

6. Institutional Collaboration
How do I position my school within the larger university system? How do we transcend the high-revenue, low-prestige (“enrollment cash cow”) trap familiar to many schools, and assert our faculty productivity and intellectual capital as essential to the larger strategic goals?

7. Program Development
How do I evaluate market potential and timing for new and re-imagined programs? What programs drive brand, revenue, reputation — and in what proportions? What opportunities exist for corporate partners and donors to coalesce around signature program (capital building) initiatives?

8. Corporate Relations
How do I differentiate my school as a source of vision, talent, executive education, joint-research projects, high-content events and global connections for the extended corporate community?

9. Donor Relations
How do I build a culture of shared beliefs and purpose across my school (advisory boards, key corporate partners, alumni leaders and emerging stakeholders)? How do I balance annual and long-term fundraising priorities? Can I inspire others to create next generation alumni activities and constituent relations programs, and train thought leaders and more visible/influential representatives?

10. Legacy
While it takes considerable confidence and charisma to succeed as the Dean of a major school, ultimately the qualities of humility and curiosity become the defining features of the most effective leaders. How do I lead and communicate so that others join me in the greater ambition to build something larger and more lasting than ourselves? How do we come together so that attention shines not on ourselves, but on what we create and contribute?

If you are seeking a seasoned partner in your new adventure, please consider contacting us.