By: Charlie Wein
So, you have an innovative idea, strong networking, financial stability, and brand recognition; you’ve got a good business, which is…good, but how do make it great? Students in the Leadership for the Creative Enterprises program spent winter term with professor Cory Sandrock figuring out how to take a good business and make it a great one.
It all started with Jim Collins book Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer. The analysis of a great business model comes not from the finances or the organizational structure, but from the social implications of business management. This is especially important for the MSLCE students looking to combine their artistic sensibilities with their newly refined business acumen.
The students spent the term analyzing cases of many major businesses, some bad, some good, and some great. Companies like Mail Chimp, GoPro, and Spotify, as well as personality-based businesses, such as Beyonce, and Lebron James. In their analysis, the students learned about the “hedgehog” concept. The hedgehog concept asks every business to answer three questions. What are you passionate about, what can you be the best at in the world, and what drives your economic engine? The student’s ability to answer these questions was important- not just to better understand the concepts within the classroom, but in preparation for their final projects.
Business models provided students an opportunity rarely offered in an academic environment, the chance to apply their knowledge in a practical setting, with real companies. Early on in the course, students were assigned one of several creative companies currently in operation such as the Joffrey Ballet or the GreenMan Theatre Troupe, and were asked to complete a major project in assistance to the company.
MSLCE student Daniella Smith was a member of the group assigned to GreenMan. The group looked at the company through the Good to Great structure to determine how they could best assist the small community theater; resulting in a comprehensive guide to expand their marketing and increase their presence in the Elmhurst community. I asked her thoughts on the class, and what she felt was her biggest takeaway , “I appreciated the practical application of concepts we learned about in class -in working with outside organizations we had the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge we learned to a real-life project that we can now speak on going forward in interviews”.
As the students enter their final term of classes before summer internships, these concepts will become more and more prevalent and crucial to the career pursuits, because while a having a good business is good, having a great one is even better.