Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ten Mistakes

Back in August, I ran across an article on ten business mistakes never to make. I have thought quite a bit about that since then. The article is worth reading. It seems to me that these are mistakes in more than just business. My experience has mainly been in academics and non-profits but the mistakes are still mistakes in those arenas. Here are some examples:
  1. Dishonesty. It is simply impossible to work with someone who is dishonest. You can never count on anything being the way it is represented.
  2. Corrupt culture. There are numerous articles recently dealing with corrupt culture in academia. The most striking are those that point to diversity in everything but opinion.
  3. Terrible money management. Who knew that Harvard, with the largest endowment in the world, was $6 billion in debt?
  4. Pathetic revenues. It is a good thing that some organizations are non-profits and run on volunteers because they do not bring in enough to hire someone. But what happens when the volunteers stop volunteering?
  5. Customers are not relevant. One of my first lessons in university politics from a group of political scientists is that academic organizations have a terrible time figuring out who their constituencies are.
  6. Dreadful customer service and support. At UC Berkeley there was a staff member in the department whose job it was to help the graduate students navigate the system. Unfortunately, she was always too busy organizing union protests to help the graduate students.
  7. Customer concentration. I have attended conferences where the general public is invited to attend and does. I have had some of the general public tell me that they appreciated me talking to them since some of the academics would only talk to other academics. These academics were so desirous of staying with their clique that they were snubbing those who might be willing to fund their pet projects.
  8. No vision--no strategy. It is hard to know what to do when there is no coherent plan of what to do.
  9. No priorities--no process. There has to be a system to accomplish something or nothing gets done.
  10. Wrong workers. Years ago there was a department at a university I attended to hired a couple of professors who could not get along with anyone, especially each other. Things went badly as long as either of them were in the department. I know another department where certain individuals were always trying to turn the department into something it never was. It created a more dysfunctional department.
I am certain that others can come up with many examples of these problems in academia but it is clear that all of these are a problem.