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  • Sunday, January 25, 2009


    From GOOD TO GREAT (to failure)

    A Greater Orange Communities Update:
    From Good to Great (to failure)

    Shortly after becoming OUSD Superintendent, now retired Superintendent Dr. Godley had embraced the business model jargon of Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great as a framework for the Orange Unified School District moving to greatness. Supplying top administrators and principals with the copies of the best selling business fad book and having the slogan plastered on things such as writing pens handed-out at administrator meetings, Godley embraced the model as did his OUSD Trustee supporters and administrators who bantered the buzz phrase about.

    In the book, Collins had identified eleven companies that he said exemplified the business model of going from Good to Great and self-invented seven catchy phases on why those companies achieved greatness while others did not. Those fad “business buzz words” quickly became a business cult fad and the new OUSD Superintendent jumped on the fad fashionable business cult bandwagon. Apparently unknown to Godley until the Orange Net News investigative series Hedgehog Digest reported on it (see links below), Collins had also published a supplement to his book stating that his business models did not neatly transfer to the social sector (i.e. school districts). Collins wrote that it would take years of further study to see if the models could be modified to transfer to the social sector. Oops, fads do appear to have limits.

    Collins eleven Good to Great companies are:
    Abbott Laboratories; Fannie Mae; Kimberly-Clark; Nucor; Pitney-Bowes; Wells Fargo; Circuit City; Gillette; Kroger; Phillip Morris; and Walgreens.

    In the Orange Net News series, many of the companies’ problems or ways of doing business were brought to light. We’d now like to update you on those Good to Great companies, and for many of them, the news is not that “great” anymore. Aside from the documented problems since the book was published, recently for some, things have turned from Great to Failure. One is gone, another on the way and two have serious problems. Circuit City is bankrupt and in the process of liquidating all assets. Fannie Mae was bailed out to the tune of billions of tax-dollars after a scandalous financial mismanagement and is still widely expected to not survive without more government intervention. Wells Fargo bought Wachovia Bank, then turned around and received the largest portion of the taxpayers TARP bailout funds of any bank (tied with Citicorp) 25 BILLION tax dollars, and still is having trouble. Abbot Laboratories’ nutritional division has been implicated in the ongoing salmonella outbreak and forced to recall products. It is expected the company will face legal liability court action in the 6 deaths and sickness of five hundred consumers in the outbreak blamed on peanut butter products.

    As many in the trenches of the educational system have long ago learned, there is a reason why pop culture creations are called “fads”. Perhaps being out of the classroom has led administrators to continue to look for magic pills. To paraphase one catchy financial business slogan, most real professional educators in the trenches know "We make education happen the old fashion way. Without fads."

    To view the Orange Net News report on OUSD’s Good to Great experiment, the Hedgehog Digest CLICK ON:
    Hedgehog Digest Part 1

    Hedgehog Digest Part 2

    Hedgehog Digest Part 3

    COMMUNITY UPDATE is a news production of Orange Net News /O/N/N/

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