General Electric (Collis, Montgomery, 2008) pioneered the development of this framework, working in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group to tailor its specific market sizing and profitability measures to the conglomerate of businesses that comprised GE at the time. One of the key assumptions of the BCG Growth/Share Matrix is that there must be continual monitoring of the market, specifically competitors and relative market share growth over time. Only by continually measuring and monitoring these two attributes can the Growth/Share matrix be an effective framework for strategic planning. GE, through their Crotonville Learning Center in Connecticut also defined a series of external customer-facing processes that managers at GE could use to gain the critical information they needed to populate the BCG Growth/Share Matrix and use it as a planning tool. Soon other larger multinational corporations (MNCs) with complex value chains and series of unrelated businesses also relied on the key concepts of the BCG Growth/Share Matrix (Panshef, Dorsam, Sakao, Birkhofer, 2009). In conjunction with Harvard University's creation of the Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies (PIMS) database, the BCG Growth/Share matrix could then benchmarked across industries. Educational institutions are continually refining the use of these frameworks and concepts in defining how their specific design of curriculums and programs will align to the unmet needs of their students.
The KPIs and metrics that were created as a result of the ability to monitor relative strategic position more frequently and with greater accuracy served as a turning point in strategic planning for businesses and educational institutions. First, strategic planning had evolved from being a yearly exercise that had become ritualized and as a result nearly worthless over time to one that was responsive to the changing market conditions. Second, the availability of PIMS data and the BCG Growth/Share matrix or framework made it possible to create strategic plans to be monitored and evaluated much more effectively than had been the case in the past. The "monitor' component of the strategic planning process was now at an equitable or level position with the planning and organizational resource functional areas. As a result, the strategic planning process quickly changed the information process workflows in many learning institutions including private high schools to support market knowledge and the quantification of opportunities and threats (Hughes, Morgan, Kouropalatis, 2008).
Six Sigma and Strategic Planning: Another Level of Precision Is Introduced
The development of strategies internally for making processes, systems and the roles of people more aligned with market requirements through Business Process Management (BPM) and Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR) and then creating lean or highly efficient process workflows as a result is the foundation of Six Sigma process improvement (Pestorius, 2007). This foundation of continually striving to make internal processes more aligned to customers' unmet needs, preferences and requirements has been defined as the DMAIC Model (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) (Pestorius, 2007). The use of Six Sigma principles relies heavily on gaining a clear sense of the Voice of the Customer (VoC). In the context of higher education, the application of Six Sigma ensures that the unmet needs of students on the one hand, and the rapidly evolving changes of academic disciplines on the other stay in alignment with each other over time. Forward-thinking learning institutions are actively using the VoC methodology in the Six Sigma framework to gain greater insights, both quantitatively and qualitatively, to better define their internal processes for selling to and serving their students and equip them to be more competitively prepared for the rigors of competing in a global economy.
The entire DMAIC Model provides a sequential flow of processes and frameworks for making a learning institutions more aligned with both its own internal efficiency objectives and the market-driven strategic objectives as well. The adoption of Six Sigma as a the BPM-based strategy for bringing change into learning institutions their learning and teaching partners, content and knowledge partners and students further defines the strategic market planning framework. Strategic market planning in fact has become the foundation of how learning institutions address the need for continual synchronization of their private high schools and private institutions in the context of a strategic plan execution while also concentrating on nurturing and creating a strong level of collaboration so that a strategic plan can be achieved.
The next step in the maturation of strategic planning processes in learning institutions that have adopted a more market-centric approach is tighter integration with their content and knowledge partners is to enable greater levels of responsiveness to the educational needs of students over time. Inherent in market-driven strategic planning framework are measures of customer satisfaction as measured by the Six Sigma VoC and DMAIC processes. The integration of measures of customer satisfaction in student-facing processes is accomplished through the use of KPIs that measure collaboration and information sharing velocity across academic disciplines and educational institutions over time. This is a critical aspect of strategic planning performance management, and ensuring that strategic plans are attained requires that learning institutions in general and private high schools change their culture to embrace the use of KPIs to monitor their performance to key objectives.
For private high schools specifically that need to deliver competitively priced yet exceptional levels of educational attainment for their students over time, the use of dashboards and scorecards is critical if they are to attain their strategic plans or not. This is critical for any privately held high school to gradually change their culture over time as well; there must be a focus on measuring performance and having that measured performance change the culture of the learning institution over time. The highest performing private high schools therefore have a strong bias to measuring their progress relative to objectives and actively seek out opportunities to continually perform against their strategic objectives, many of which are quantifiable in nature.
In addition to the growth of analytics and the use of KPIs to deliver insights into how learning institutions can continually improve their performance, the use of Intranet portals in private institutions, specifically private high schools, has become pervasive (Lim, Liu, Yin, Goh, et al., 2005). In conjunction with the development of dashboards to measure the relative performance of learning institutions to their strategic objectives that has been a corresponding focus on how to create a more effective strategic planning process that is knowledge-based. The development of the "learning networks" has become a strategic imperative on the part of many learning institutions and privately held high schools who seek to create a series of partnerships that allow for the entire consortium of schools to becoming "learning ecosystems" that generate knowledge through interprocess knowledge transfer. The idea of creating a group or private trading exchange between privately held high schools to underwrite the collective costs of supplies and materials, freeing up more discretionary funding for the development of more advanced curriculums is a focus many private school groups are taking in the face of challenging economic times. The concept of the private high school being the catalyst of learning across the educational networks they are members of is resonating in strategic planning practices globally (Beard, 276, 277). Combined with the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) methodology for managing performance of a given private high school or learning institution to their goals, the use of these learning private and consortia-based exchanges is providing many privately-held learning institutions with both knowledge to better serve their students and the ability to participate in group purchasing to alleviate operating systems. Strategic planning in privately held educational institutions in general and privately held and operating high schools this approach to combing the BSC-based approach to managing measures of performance to strategic objectives while also seeking to find economies of scale collectively across all privately held schools in a region delivers significant Return on Investment (ROI) from an educational results and financial performance perspective as well. Strategic planning with private education, from elementary level to the university level and especially at the private high school level, must first have a clear vision of just what is necessary to be accomplished first from a process perspective so that BSC-based measurement and the benefits of collaborative purchasing across consortia-based exchanges can occur. Only after these prerequisites are defined and a learning institution, for example a private high school, has defined the KPIs that will be used to measure their relative performance to strategic plans, should technologies be integrated into these workflows to create more efficiency (Ku, Liau, Hsing, 2005). The integration of technologies is often completed last as a part of any strategic plan to ensure the processes, KPIs, dashboards and scorecards are aligned to the strategic requirements of the learning institutions.
Strategic planning's progression from being based on frameworks that sought to contextualize and quantify educational strategy decisions in a vacuum away from the turbulent environments they existed in was short-lived. Aside from promoting a myopic view of the world, these strategic planning concepts lacked the necessary agility and responsiveness…