Life’s Business Plan: Jesuit Business Education’s Secret Weapon
Discussion Outline • Jesuit business education’s competitive advantages • Corporate America’s predicament • The Jesuit secret weapon that fits America’s predicament
Competitive advantage is fundamental to strategy “Strategy is the deliberate search for a plan of action that will develop a business’s competitive advantage and compound it.” (Porter, Strategy) …Ramon’s corollary: focus on clients not competitors
Some competitive advantages don’t involve the “Jesuit thing” • Location • Reputation • Quality of faculty • Cost?
Other potential competitive advantages are distinctly Jesuit • National network of Jesuit universities • International network of Jesuit ministries • The Jesuit “brand” • Approach to intellectual and human formation • National alumni network • Spiritual Tradition
Jesuit spiritual tradition, aka Spiritual Exercises A lost opportunity for Jesuit business education…or not leveraged because it’s irrelevant?
What are the Spiritual Exercises, core to the spiritual tradition • Loyola’s “systematized” spiritual journey • Four “weeks” of meditations on one’s own life, Jesus’ life, and one’s path in life • Lots of stuff about hell • Specifically Catholic • Arcane language that Jesuits won’t change • Idiosyncratic: one week has 12 days?
Some obvious problems with Exercises on modern campus: • Lots of stuff about hell • Specifically Catholic • Arcane language that Jesuits won’t change • Idiosyncratic: one week has 12 days? • “Soft stuff”: business teaches “hard stuff”
Vision Mission Values = Our “enduring core” Strategic Decision-making Execution or Implementation = Our ability to adapt by navigating change Rubric of “Strategic Plan” might showcase Exercises’ relevance?
Corporate predicament, #1: No one believes in “enduring core”! • “Vision is just a word, show me the growth” • 76% of financial executives say they would sacrifice economic value to keep earnings rising smoothly
Corporate Predicament #2: Problems making strategic choices • Up to 40% of public mergers don’t add significant value for shareholders • 45% of executives rely on intuition rather than on facts in running their businesses
Predicament #3: Corporations don’t implement strategies well “Execution is a systematic process of…tenaciously following through, and ensuring accountability..[it’s] the great unaddressed issue in the business world today.” [Charan/Bossidy, Execution]
Predicament #4: Employees don’t care about the mission either • 67% of us now equate the good life with “good for us” • 80+% of college students aspire to be well-off financially; only 30+% interested in developing a “meaningful philosophy of life”
Jesuit business education’s “secret weapon”: the spiritual tradition Reframe the Exercises as a personal “strategic plan” addressing corporate America’s challenges: good for companies, good for students, and good for your school’s competitive advantage
Mission Vision Values = Lots of reflection on life’s “enduring core” = “To praise, reverence and serve” = the Kingdom? = Humility, love, self-awareness Re-framing the Exercises as a personal strategic plan:
Making sound strategic choices Executing accountably Practice of discernment Detachment Ends before means Daily examen Exercises also imbed strategic choice and execution skills
Companies win by getting better-equipped recruits who: • Can navigate complicated decisions • Can monitor their daily effectiveness • Know their values • Understand the concept of mission: goals larger than self
The challenge Lots of job changes Chaotic lifestyles Collapse of organized religion Few acknowledged community values The antidote Decision-making technology Daily Updating tool Establish your mission Articulate your values Students win: acquire critical, modern-world relevant skills
Jesuit Business Education wins by leveraging a unique competitive advantage Students draw on the Jesuit spiritual tradition to craft their personal strategic plan as capstone of their business education
The last word, from the patron saint of Jesuit business education: “There are in this city 6,500 beggars…and many of these have been reduced to begging the necessities of life….Perhaps if we had a flair for business…we could concern ourselves more with this problem.” (P. Favre)