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You might be surprised to hear that Alexander Osterwalder, entrepreneur and noted business scholar, believes that many firms focus too much attention on selling their products and services. Instead, he encourages them to take a more holistic view, shifting focus from building a better product to building a better business model. Firms that do this typically out compete firms that simply offer a “better product,” and ultimately, they create lasting value for themselves and their customers.

In this interview with Fox School of Business faculty member Dr. Andrew Maxwell, Osterwalder discusses his method for building effective business models.  To Osterwalder, the right business model can be the difference between success and failure, citing Nestle’s Nespresso as an example. When Nestle launched the Nespresso brand, it nearly failed, until the firm adjusted the business model to suit market realities.  With changes in place, Nespresso was a success.

Osterwalder examined alternate business models of hundreds of large and medium companies to develop this framework. Its biggest benefit, Osterwalder notes, is not establishing an optimum business model, but exploring alternate business models that highlight the different outcomes of the firm’s choice. In this way, the business model canvas helps organizations build consensus on the business models that best fit their firms.

Fox Management Consulting (Fox-MC) emphasizes Osterwalder’s approach within its consulting and MBA capstone course. Through Fox-MC, MBA student teams conduct rigorous market research and use those findings to evaluate and develop business models that highlight new opportunities for clients.

This video is product of a collaborative partnership between Canadian Innovation Centre and Temple’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.  If you are interested in learning about business models, consider the Fox’s Masters of Science in Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship.

http://vimeo.com/63761087

Fox Management Consulting encouraged us to think outside of the box with the clients and develop solutions to problems.”- Michael Mittelman, CEO of PHmHealth

Michael Mittelman, MBA ‘10,  is a busy man.

When we connected with him to discuss his career path after graduating from the Fox School, he had just finished mentoring young adults on the upsides and pitfalls of entrepreneurship. The right candidate for the job, Mittelman knows what it takes to transform an idea into a business.

Mittelman’s company, PHmHealth began with his own experience. After his grandmother became seriously ill, he saw how difficult it was to oversee her home health care. This led him to create a system that helps home health care agencies increase credibility and maximize patient care. PHmHealth’s smartphone app allows a patient’s friends and family to be able to manage the care of their loved ones even from afar, and most importantly, helps healthcare providers focus on patients. Instead of staring at laptop, trying to shuffle through loads of red tape, healthcare providers can now clock-in by using  Near Field Communication technology, a radio frequency technology that is in most Android devices.

In 2012, Mittelman and PHmHealth won the Fox School of Business’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl, which validated the concept and provided a boost to the company. The competition provided him with mentorship from experienced professionals and a cash prize.  During our interview, Mittelman emphasized the importance of vetting an idea. To win the Be Your Own Boss Bowl, Mittelman had to conduct market research, understand the funding structure of his business and put together the right team. These are principles that he learned while completing his Fox Management Consulting capstone project, as a Fox School Student.

During his time at Fox Management Consulting, Mittelman, a team of students and an executive project manager developed a market entry plan for a Japanese firm. Since the company did not yet have a US presence, Mittelman and his teammates functioned as the firm’s ground team. The team conducted high-quality primary and secondary research, and developed an innovative use for the product – one that would fair well within the US market. This was a lesson that Mittelman claims to have helped him as his own business is approaching the market.

The experiences Mittelman gained at Fox Management Consulting resonated with him when he was competing in the Be Your Own Boss Bowl. Through Fox Management Consulting, Mittelman learned how important product differentiation can be. The knowledge he gained by completing hands-on market research also taught him the value of understanding his product, his market and his competitor. Perhaps the most important lesson he learned during his time at Temple’s Fox School of Business was how funding is the crux of any start-up.

Mittelman uses some of the lessons he learned from Fox Management Consulting and as an entrepreneur to teach to those in the QED program at the Science Center.  “Our Fox Management Consulting clients and professors expected us to demonstrate leadership and innovation,” Mittelman states.  “These lessons have really helped me develop my own business.”

#askfoxmc

July 15, 2013 //

What is perhaps the most compelling part of Fox Management Consulting is the knowledge of our program’s staff. Whether the topic is entrepreneurship, leadership, or planning, those who are a part of Fox-MC are more than willing to share their expertise when confronted with a question. Keeping this in mind, Fox-MC wanted to provide a way for any person to connect to our executive-level faculty in the most efficient way possible. This is why we are introducing the new hash-tag #askfoxmc.

The knowledge within our practice is not limited to just business but also encompasses graduate and undergraduate studies, sustainability, innovation and social entrepreneurship. Those who use this tag on social networking sites can #askfoxmc about business planning, university programs, and so on and receive a response almost immediately. Students who are a part of Fox-MC can use the hash-tag to talk to project managers and exchange ideas with other students. Our clients can use the hash-tag to obtain updates on their projects. Those who want to know about MBA programs can receive honest information from faculty. Business owners and entrepreneurs who may not be familiar with Fox-MC can receive reputable business consulting- all in 140 characters or less.

Try it out now on Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram and let us know, what would you #askfoxmc?

A Math Nerd’s Cool New Toy (Thanks to EMC)!

February 22, 2013 //

 vectorstock_510680

In my heart of hearts I’m a quant, a numbers guy, a math geek. Algorithms and programming are my deal. The MBA program at Fox might try to pull me in hitherto unfamiliar realms of business: human resources, marketing, operations management. But in the end, I always come back to the numbers, which is why I’d like to briefly introduce you to the greater Internet community semantic network analysis (SNA), a tool I picked up to put to use in my EMC project.

Semantic Network Theory Explained

Simply said, SNA is a tool that uses network theory to analyze text in order to manifest important meaning.  SNA creates a network based on the nouns within a text then determines the most important nouns within the network. It’s a way to highlight the “gist” of a text in a short amount of time. Sometimes this “gist” is obvious to a reader, but sometimes not, and it’s this uncovering of latent themes that make SNA exciting.

SNA is communications’ and linguistics’ way of applying network theory which is where the math comes in. Networks consist of nodes which are connected to other nodes via walks. The way to get from any one node to another node is called a path. The shortest path between two nodes is called a geodesic. Because geodesics are the shortest paths, they are exceptionally useful in optimization problems and characterizing what nodes are most important in a network.

A Practical Application

Confused? Let’s illustrate network theory with the most popular network in the world—Facebook. In Facebook, people are the nodes. Your “friends” are the people you are connected to; this relationship between you and your “friends” is a walk. For me to get to you, I’ll either be connected with you directly or I will be connected to you through people who know people who know you. The relationships of the people I must use to get to you are the paths between me and you.

Let’s say I wanted to relay a message to you and I could only use Facebook Messenger. However, I can only message people I know and those people can only message those that they know. As someone who doesn’t like to disturb people when I don’t have to, I would find out how I can get my message from me to you using as few people as possible to relay it. This path, using the shortest amount of people, is the geodesic. Got it? Now back to the network theory.

Measuring Importance

One central idea in network analysis is that different nodes have different importance or power since each node relates to some various combinations of other nodes. Formally, this property of importance is called centrality. There are many different measures of centrality, one of which takes into account how things flow through nodes. Called betweenness centrality, this measure requires computing all the geodesics in a network between all nodes and then asking yourself: for the node being measured, how many geodesics run through it? The more geodesics that run through a node, the more important it is.

Referring to the Facebook analogy, if everybody sent messages to everyone else, some (unfortunate) individual would have to forward more messages than anyone since he or she would be in the shortest paths of most people. We know this individual is the most important individual in the social network, but why? Consider this: what if said individual decided to quit sending messages but didn’t tell anyone. Messages would continue to be sent to him, but would not find their intended recipients. The fact that this individual has this power makes him important.

Linking Concepts to Meaning

I’ve established that network theory is applicable for person-to-person relationships, but what about texts? How can networks analyze meaning? Texts contain sentences which contain verbs and nouns. Verbs provide context for concepts, but nouns provide the concepts, and the positioning of these concepts in text are deliberate. Every sentence except the first contains a concept that is linked to the concepts in the previous sentence. Also, every sentence contains a concept that links to the concepts in the next sentence. How these concepts link is meaning.

Since meaning is derived from the arrangement of concepts, the juxtaposition of concepts is indicative of the existence of some meaning between them, and the flow between concepts is the flow of meaning. The more meaning flows through a particular noun, the more the concept represented by that noun defines the meaning.  In a semantic network, the geodesic between nouns indicates the best way two concepts are related. The more geodesics that pass through a particular noun, the more important that noun is to the meaning of the text or discourse being analyzed.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of SNA, but SNA can also be applied to pairs of words as well as being able to compare and contrast different texts by comparing the important nouns within them. All we need is just a little more math…

 

Building a Strategic Alliance Down Under

August 30, 2012 //

We are at the EMC program privileged to be working with the Business School of the University of Technology, Sydney (“UTS”) in helping develop an experiential learning model similar, but clearly not identical to, that which we have had in place at Temple for more than a decade. We are utilizing as our learning platform for a select group of Australian MBA students three strategic consulting engagements where we are committed to producing “professional grade” results for real enterprises.

We are in this new setting for our model finding again that “live” changes everything about learning business, and for the better. Case studies are an invaluable methodology for learning theory, but that is a process that will always remain incomplete until the consolidation that can only happen with carefully guided application to a real business problem takes place. We are the MBA already “rethought.”

The faculty fortunate enough to be involved in this highly collaborative effort with UTS are themselves learning from the “application” experience as respects the realities of crafting a successful strategic alliance. We know from this experience that the critical elements of actually making a partnership work include:

A shared vision, strongly held.

We both view the development of solid professional skills, in a business setting, as a mission that should be given primacy in MBA programs. Many of these skills develop best through structured interaction with a consulting client, guided by an experienced, “been there, done that” faculty member with significant real world business experience. Would you want a doctor that had never completed a residency?

Our focus is on the mission and operational excellence.

This can only happen because of the alignment of views on what we are seeking to achieve; time and resources do not have to be “spent” on revisiting strategic objectives, as those were set during the comprehensive, mutual – discovery process that led to our partnership agreement. We are thus able to hold the students, project managers and all others involved in the program to a “professional grade” standard as respects program implementation; always the hardest part of any change process.

Neither party believes, “… the way we do things here works, so that is the way it should be done everywhere”; we each have much to learn from the other.

The UTS program in Australia will benefit from our learning curve on developing and running experiential learning models of this sort, and we have already benefited from the fresh insights and meaningful improvements that can only happen when bright, engaged people doing something new work hard to help make it better. Our program in Philadelphia is stronger because of what we are doing in Australia.

 

We both have “flesh in the game”, and interests align.

This is a major undertaking for both schools, it has garnered significant attention both internally and externally, there would be a “cost” in not succeeding that has little to do with money, and is all about assets that are far more important to us both, reputation and brand.

We like each other.

At its roots, a strategic alliance is first and foremost a social network. We work well together because we enjoy doing so; there is a striking and palpable similarity of cultures between UTS and Temple. In our market entry analysis we explored the possibility of working with any number of universities in Australia. That the “fit” with UTS was particularly good could not have been any more obvious. These “soft”, often ill-defined assets are usually at the very heart of differentiating the partnerships in business that work and those that do not.

 

Our goal is to build a global consortium of MBA programs around the world incorporating an experiential learning experience as their capstone program. We could not be any prouder and happier than to have started that larger undertaking in partnership with UTS.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjPe62zltT4

The fashion industry may be at the dawn of a new era with the help of Enterprise Management Consulting.

On July 16, Pickn’Tell launched its free mobile app through the Google Play Store and iPhone App Store. Intended for women ages 18 to 45, the Pickn’Tell app allows consumers to connect with friends and fashion experts, try out apparel and receive timely feedback, earn gift cards and coupons, and receive notification of sales.

While Pickn’Tell’s offering is exciting for aspiring fashionistas, it’s more so for retailers. The Pickn’Tell app is a consumer portal for a multi-facet analytics platform that allows brick-and-mortar apparel outlets to collect data on pre-sales actions and decisions. Until very recently, these outlets could only gather data after the point-of-sale. Important questions such as how long a customer took to make a decision and what garments a customer tried on prior to making a purchase could not be addressed. Now, Pickn’Tell can provide answers.

Dalit Braun, CEO, demonstrates the Pickn'Tell app to customers.

“For the retailer, [Pickn’Tell] provides the ability to bridge between the physical presence of the store and the virtual one,” said Pickn’Tell CEO Dalit Braun. “The shopping is prolonged out of the store, integrated into an m-commerce platform. It also provides the retailer the ability to build brand awareness in the social networks and collects useful aggregated information on consumers: what they tried on, what they liked, what they didn’t, etc.”

To encourage consumers to engage the platform, the company offers retailers the option to install the Pickn’Tell Interactive Mirror or Tablet. Positioned like a dressing mirror, this device interfaces with mobile devices and enables a consumer to take quality pictures of themselves, share them online, and hear what their friends have to say. However, the Interactive Mirror or Tablet is not required for the Pickn’Tell platform to function.

“Research shows the shoppers crave feedback,” said Braun. “Pickn’Tell eliminates the pain-points of shopping alone and makes any shopping excursion social.”

Mark Frieser, Director of Business Development, demonstrates the Pickn'Tell app to new users.

Based in Israel, Pickn’Tell was established last year by Braun and Asaf Lewin, both veteran technology executives. Understanding the vital need for physical, real-world boutiques to integrate the experiences of mobile social networking, Braun and Lewin sought to provide a solution. In August 2011, Pickn’Tell approached EMC to develop a strategy and business plan for entering social media and fashion markets, attracting consumer-users, acquiring retail apparel clients, and pricing.

By conducting primary research with retail apparel outlets, mining analytical data, and studying recent trends with both mobile applications and the retail apparel industry, the EMC team assigned to Pickn’Tell made several recommendations for long-term growth strategy, marketing and information management. Some recommendations—loyalty rewards and barcode scanning—are featured in Pickn’Tell’s second-generation app.

“We took the base of the recommendations and worked from them, adapting them to our understanding of the market,” said Braun. “The work done provided us with a good foresight to the value proposition and future strategy we have with our technology and that in the end our main focus will be in providing data.”

For the immediate future, Pickn’Tell will continue to promote its consumer app on its website and among fashion and mobile bloggers. In addition, the company will continue expanding its retail client base by targeting small independent boutiques in New York, Los Angeles, and the Old City District in Philadelphia. The company is currently negotiating several contracts for placement of its Interactive Mirror or Tablet.

Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business provides strategy consulting to clients in the private, public and social sectors. To find out more about EMC’s services, contact Becca Zinn at rzinn@temple.edu.

– Tyler Sagardoy, MBA ’13

This spring, students in the Fox School’s Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) Practice traveled to Rome to observe and participate in the planned expansion of an Oxfam America and United Nations World Food Programme initiative that seeks to relieve poverty and enhance food security through risk reduction.

The Fox School’s EMC program provides MBA students with a professional consulting project for a paying client under the guidance of academic instruction and an executive mentor. This year, five EMC students advised Oxfam America (OA) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on the expansion of their R4 Rural Resilience Initiative, which aims to address rural resilience against climate-related risks. The R4 Initiative seeks to provide risk-reduction tools to the world’s most vulnerable populations – those who depend on agriculture and live on less than $1 per day.

The EMC students studied OA’s pilot program, launched in Ethiopia, and the R4 Initiative’s expansion into Senegal and two additional developing countries. The team developed a five-year strategic business plan for the partners, OA and WFP, to implement and share with potential funders, as well as several other deliverables, including a research presentation, research report and R4 budget workbook.

“A large part of this was research, getting to understand micro insurance, Senegal, Africa and poverty,” said Natalie Barndt, the independent consultant who served as the EMC project manager. “There was a huge learning curve because this is not a traditional business case.”

The students presented key research findings on Senegal and the vulnerability of the country’s rural poor, and they proposed solutions and preliminary implementation considerations. Their research delved into issues including environmental factors on levels of food insecurity, poverty reduction efforts in place and current approaches for micro risk management.

After the research phases, the team put together a compelling, 388-page R4 Initiative strategic and operation plan, which provides a technical and strategic foundation for the R4 five-year plan and which will aid in the funding of the R4 Initiative. In addition, the EMC team developed a comprehensive R4 Budget Workbook.

After the team produced this extensive research and strategic plan, the partners invited Barndt and two EMC students to Rome to participate in a gathering of world leaders working to develop a detailed R4 Initiative business plan.

For the students, Barndt said, the consulting engagement, R4 strategic plan development and international exposure is invaluable.

“They get real-life experience at a very complex project with a very, very sophisticated client,” she said. “They really learn to develop the consulting story. They learn about the program, and they learn to format it in a way that tells a story that is compelling and has data and facts to back it up.”

Social Impact & The Problem of Measurement

June 21, 2012 //

One of the more intriguing developments in the social venture world is the social impact bond – a financial device in which investors put up cash to support a social innovation in return for future repayments, pegged in part to the success of the innovation.  The first example is in Peterborough, England, in which investors have pledged $7.8M for a variety of programs to reduce recidivism – a sum the government will repay, presumably out of savings, if and as the programs meet certain targets.  (Playing with Fire, The Economist Special Report on Financial Innovation, February 25th, 2012, p. 3).

The promise is that social innovation bonds will leverage the power of finance to attract new capital and increase the accountability with which that capital is applied.  The perils include whether the incentives line up and whether the required measurement is in place.

Take the issues of incentives first.  To the extent that the implementers are not the investors, what will induce the implementers to invest wisely?  On one level, poor investment or execution will reduce the likelihood of future investment – thus aligning incentives over time.  But day-to-day, more intensive governance might make sense.  How might social investment bond holders be involved in governance, in the way that shareholders have a say (however nominal) on the composition of the board of directors?

Critical to both short-term and long-term governance is a clear flow of information, and especially clear measures of success.  Here the challenge is linking do-able, cost-effective measures to social impacts.  Social impacts are the result of complex forces, making it daunting to link intervention with impact.  For example, how can one disentangle the effects of the Peterborough programs to reduce recidivism from changes in educational policy, regional economics, or cultural forces?  While sophisticated methods exist to tease out the relative impacts, these are expensive.  The challenge is to devise measures that are simple, clear and related to the impacts of concern.

One tool that we teach in the EMC is the idea of a logic map that connects intervention to impact.  Such a map traces inputs (time, money, program ideas) to activities (say job-readiness program) to outputs (job-ready ex-offenders) to impacts (reduced recidivism).  Once outlined and agreed to, one can devise affordable, practical measures that might serve as proxies for a true, but cumbersome and expensive, impact study.  Thus, in the Peterborough example, the investors might ask to see measures of inputs (matching funds), activity outputs (number of ex-offenders engaged, hours of training), output measures (pre and post-tests indicating increased job readiness), outcomes (job placements), and – if the money exists – a full-scale evaluation of whether those who graduated held jobs and, in fact, stayed out of prison.

Research indicates that marketers plan to increase social media spending by 46% in 2012.   However, not all social media platforms are alike.  To make the most of a social media marketing budget and effectively engage new and existing customers, marketers should understand the culture and features available with each platform and develop strategy accordingly.   To help with this process, this following infographic offers a snapshot comparison between Google+ and Facebook.

The risk and insurance industry fills a unique role in the world’s economy as a private market mechanism for the sharing of risk, with the global pooling of what would be risks otherwise borne solely by the individual and/or entity estimated at US $100 trillion.   As this risk pooling is instrumental for creating the resilience that underpins the efficient functioning of economies and societies, the insurance industry is clearly a legitimate object of public policy.  As the risk pooling afforded is only possible with investors’ willingness to put capital at risk, value creation is a necessary condition for its continued existence.

The convergence of public and private interests in the industry are nowhere more keenly apparent than in the risks and opportunities presented by “sustainability,” the issues and factors illustrated with a “Taxonomy of Sustainability” developed at the Fox School of Business.  An EMC faculty member and MBA team conducted a global survey of sustainability and the insurance industry on behalf of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (“UNEP FI”).  This survey had two lines of inquiry.

First, what is current “state of play” as respects the integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) factors in insurance underwriting?  Secondly, what is needed for the development of a more purposeful dialogue on the role of the insurance industry in response to ESG factors?  From the survey results, five broad themes emerged, each of which is discussed in depth in the publication that resulted from the survey: The Global State of Sustainable Insurance.

Dialoguing on Sustainability & Risk

  1. ESG factors influence underwriting.
  2. Proper management of ESG factors potentially enhances insurance industry earnings via avoided loss and new product offerings.  This in turn could afford greater protection for the insureds’ they serve.
  3. Given their assessment of ESG risks, insurance underwriters judge societal response for many ESG factors as under-developed.
  4. There are significant differences in the assessment of ESG factors dependent on whether an underwriter is operating in the “developed” or “developing” world.
  5. Promotion of ESG risk management and financing requires:
  • Working with a fragmented insurance industry structure to achieve integration
  • Enhanced forums for dialogue between stakeholders
  • Distinct, and sometimes new, skill sets
  • A recognition and respect for interests divergence

Understanding sustainability allows insurance companies to better understand the risks they are assuming, and in so doing, make more money – all while doing the “right” thing as well.

James W. Hutchin
Willis Research Network 

ESG Factors at work

Reaching through prison walls to develop strategy

March 25, 2012 //
Image Credit: The Inside-Out Center

A little over a year ago, a team of our MBA students spent a Saturday in maximum security Graterford Prison facilitating a day-long strategy session for the steering committee for Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program.  Started at Graterford more than 15 years ago, Inside-Out has grown into an international network of 310 trained facilitators and several prison-based think tanks – all without a well-formulated business model.  The strategy session was designed to stimulate the steering committee – roughly half inmates and half professors, with a smattering of students and staff – to design a business model to support the organizational component of Inside-Out.

Programmatically, Inside-Out provides incredible educational offerings in which inside and outside students conduct workshops and take college classes together, inside prison walls.  The quality of thinking is exemplary, with the inside students holding the (often younger) outside students to an extremely high standard of preparation and logic, and the outside students (often having the benefit of more formal schooling) bringing to bear strong technical skills in reading and writing.  Even more important telling the high-quality thinking is the commitment to mutual respect and deep listening such that participants draw from each other and the group deeper insights than would be available individually.

Needless to say, talking business and strategy in this setting was extraordinarily challenging, both because many of the participants are actively suspicious of business and because the group expects the highest level of honest and respectful participation in decision-making.  The team prepared by clarifying the goals of the session, designing a flow, blocking out the day in 15 minute intervals, assembling needed materials, and practicing various listening, recording and facilitating techniques.  On the actual day, this meticulous preparation allowed the team to adjust nimbly as the group challenged, changed and eventually found its way back to the central themes and decisions.

In the end, the steering committee’s insights and decisions shaped the EMC teams recommendations for Inside-Out, even as these recommendations have guided Inside-Out.

On the dissecting table [at a recent Think Tank discussion] was the EMC team’s comprehensive 176-page report prepared for Inside-Out, entitled “Pathways to Sustainable Growth.” Out of this critical meeting of minds rose a guiding theme: harnessing the power of the international network. To maximize this power, the Graterford Think Tank has been placing special focus on the continued development of what EMC identified as Inside-Out’s core competencies (what has made Inside-Out successful, unique, hard to copy, and what will give Inside-Out an edge moving forward). They are: the Graterford Think Tank, the international network, and the instructor trainings.
The Inside-Out Center Newsletter, Fall 2011

As useful as the strategic work has been to Inside-Out, the experience of working with such a powerful group of people, inside and out, has also left its mark on the EMC team:

On a practical level, the facilitation at Graterford made me realize how important preparation is for any sort of meeting and how being intentional – about activities, questions, etc. – can make an incredible difference on the outcome of your discussion and the richness of the content and dialogue that you create.

On a personal level, as always – going into Graterford was a transformational experience.  It was incredibly humbling to stand up in front of professional facilitators and try to facilitate a meeting.  It was also incredibly rewarding to be able to create a structure – and see it unfold in expected and unexpected ways – that allowed people to discuss their ideas and reactions to our work and listen to their suggestions of how we could make it better and support Inside-Out in deepening their own impact.   Also, as a person who can be on the shy-side, especially in large groups, having to facilitate in front of 40 people – without my teammates! – was character building to say the least.
–          Christy B., GMBA, 2010

What’s the added value of a strategy consulting course?

March 20, 2012 //

Today I was re-reading Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (and feeling quaint and anachronistic while holding an actual library book) and was struck by Smith’s notion of “productive” and “unproductive” labor.  I wonder if our students would count all of the time they put into the EMC as productive or unproductive?

Productive labor is labor that “adds value” to something, such that some of the labor is captured and stored for later use.  (This must be one of the earliest uses of the b-school jargon, “added value.”)  An example is manufacture, in which some of the labor is captured in a product and (in a sense) released as the product is used and eventually re-sold.  Unproductive labor is labor that dissipates even as the effort is expended; Smith uses the example of housekeeping and other servant services which provide some immediate but not lasting value.

The Enterprise Management Consulting Practice requires from each students perhaps 300 hours of work, between classes, team meetings, client meetings, research, modeling, writing, presenting and, we hope, thinking.  Does any of this effort transform into value that can be called on at a later point to solve a problem or make a decision?  Is there true “value add” to MBA education?

Coming up with objective measures of the added value is a topic for another post.  Anecdotally, we measure the impact of EMC by the increasing confidence we see in our students’ faces and actions, and by the emails we receive, sometimes years later, telling us how they have used their EMC skills to solve business problems.

EMC gave me much more than knowledge of a particular industry.  It gave me soft skills: I learned to work under pressure, to deliver high standards of quality on time and to manage various characters and competencies within a team.
Matthieu Guillaume, IMBA 2001
Lloyds TSB Monaco

I use EMC tools to evaluate potential investments and acquisitions for my firm.
Francine Pramana, PMBA 2011
Business Development Specialist
Independence Blue Cross

Operating on a 14-hour time difference and a slight lingo barrier, students in the Fox School’s Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) Practice will work with “bizzo” (read: business) partners halfway around the world in the first collaboration between EMC and a “dinky-di” (genuine) Aussie company.

This fall a team of EMC students will help the Australia-based company Ceebron develop a market entry strategy for a potential United States debut.

“Our ability to provide professional-grade consulting services, such as a U.S. market entry plan, at an attractive price point makes needed research and advice available to the small- and medium-size companies usually coming here for the first time,” said James Hutchin, an EMC clinical professor.

Ceebron is the company behind the one-of-a-kind Smart-Trace Cold Chain Monitoring System, which allows users to track the temperature of sensitive food as it is shipped across long distances. This automated technology helps ensure food safety compliance and protects food and pharmaceuticals from spoiling.

This is not the first time EMC students have worked with international clients. During the past 10 years, EMC has partnered with more than 60 foreign businesses.

The program’s global approach began in Israel through a partnership with Ben-Gurion University. Since then, EMC students have worked with companies in England, Ireland, Japan, Belgium, India, France, Russia and Scotland. With its first Australian partnership, EMC is working toward its goal of making one-third of its projects international.

“Almost all of the international projects have been market entry in some way or another,” said TL Hill, EMC managing director. “And within that we’ve got a strong technology, high-tech bent.”

EMC students have developed market entry assessments and plans for companies such as UK-based firm Martec, French-based Senoble and India-based Jindal Iron & Steel. The students have produced market strategies, sustainability projects, and assessments of market opportunities for products like centrifuge components and HR management technology.

The EMC team will work with Ceebron as it explores bringing the company’s cold chain technology to the U.S. market. Students will consider who will purchase it, who will install it and how everyone from local politicians to the Food and Drug Administration might be involved.

“For the students, they really are like an extension, or U.S. office, of the company they’re working for,” Hill said. “They move from student workers with little question marks by their names to trusted partners. The transition is easier in overseas projects because they are being more needed, more depended on.”

Through such international partnerships EMC students learn how to read and respond to political and cultural cues, “the small p’s and small c’s,” that are involved with international, interpersonal relationships and power dynamics, Hill said.

As with many past EMC partnerships, this collaboration could help Ceebron expand from a small market into the larger U.S. one.

“From EMC’s perspective, it’s a country that is very confident, that’s full of sophisticated businesses but that still has a small market,” Hill said.

With Ceebron in particular, the high levels of expertise on both sides of the partnership are encouraging. In the U.S., the EMC students will be advised by a clinical professor who is an expert in packaging and chilled supply chains – everything from flowers from Latin America, to seafood, to pharmaceuticals. In Australia, Ceebron is led by an owner/investor with a successful career in a large food company.

“When we enter a new country it’s exciting,” Hill said. “And this one seems particularly exciting because it seems the stars are aligning with client needs and our needs as we look to expand our international exposure.”

With required design workshops for MBAs, consulting projects and Executive Education courses, the Fox School’s new Center for Design+Innovation is giving design skills to the business leaders of tomorrow – and bringing those skills to the business leaders of today.

This August, new students in Fox’s Full-time, Part-time, International, and Executive MBA programs were the first class to experience this cultural shift through design workshops during MBA Essentials orientation.

Students participated in intensive, workshop-based training in the principles, methods and techniques of design. During that time, classrooms looked more like art studios alive with poster boards, diagrams, magazine clippings, photographs, prototypes and Post-it notes.

Students were tasked with reimagining the food truck experience – a staple on Temple’s Main Campus – by interviewing vendors, climbing into food trucks, and creating profiles of typical patrons and their needs. One idea: Five Benjamins, a truck with menu items under $5 and 500 calories or fewer.

Center for Design+Innovation teaches design to MBAsThe hands-on thinking and learning – such as building 3-D models and acting out scenarios – expands ways of thinking and the range in which students can communicate their ideas.

The finale was a team-based design challenge to transform Temple Libraries into a 21st-century experience and to help library users navigate through the system. Titled “Wayfinding,” the challenge led to proposals ranging from an online navigation that registered users’ profiles and made resource recommendations to a “librewery” to promote meeting and conversation.

Interim dean of university libraries Carol Lang and business librarian Adam Shambaugh spent the final day with the students as they brainstormed ideas that culminated in their proposals and presentations. “It was energizing and downright fun,” Lang said. “We learned a lot about how today’s incoming students perceive the library and what we can do to improve their library experience. We also learned a lot about design thinking and its applications.”

The challenge also caused a stir when the 70 students in 14 teams invaded Paley Library for their location scouting and research, asking questions, snapping photos and taking video.

Center for Design+Innovation teaches design to MBAs“That’s what learning should be,” said James Moustafellos, associate director of the Center for Design+Innovation and the professor who led the workshops and challenge.

In addition, the Center is collaborating with design-centered projects in Fox’s Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) Practice, a capstone consulting experience for MBAs, to identify potential and opportunities early on in the process.

A design screening, for example, can help client firms or organizations “first look at potential uses for assets and then, where possible, how to assess from a business standpoint to see which options are viable,” Moustafellos said.

Center for Design+Innovation teaches design to MBAsFox MBAs aren’t the only ones learning to use design perspectives to revolutionize the way they approach business. Moustafellos and Center Director Youngjin Yoo, professor of management information systems and strategy, are also leading Executive Education programs, conferences and symposiums.

The first, in collaboration with EMC, is a Sept. 23 presentation at Wyck Historic House and Garden on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. The subject: using new ideas in old places, such as regional historic sites and museums, to rethink the uses of their physical assets to increase patronage and fundraising.

On Oct. 21, Electronic Ink founder Harold Hambrose will lead “Firsthand lessons from a CEO: Using a Design Perspective to Understand Your Business and Model an Innovative Future.” And from Nov. 3-4, Moustafellos will teach a two-day “Business is Design” Executive Education course focused on shifting business attitudes from products to experiences and the design-based skills needed to create innovative solutions. For more information, visit http://design.temple.edu/education.

In February, the Center for Design+Innovation is scheduled to host its second inciteXchange conference to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. Last year’s event drew an array of scholars, business leaders and government officials, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

March 13, 2011

Conservation trusts, which formerly relied solely on donations, membership fees and grants to foot stewardship bills, are starting to think outside the box. “It’s a really fundamental issue that conservancies are starting to grapple with. They’ve made this commitment to steward the land forever, and forever’s a long time,” said T.L. Hill, managing director of the Fox School’s Enterprise Management Consulting Practice (EMC), a hands-on training program for students seeking MBAs. For help in imagining creative revenue streams for its wooded sites, Heritage Conservancy has turned to Hill’s students, who have analyzed possibilities such as zip-line attractions, restaurants and yoga hikes.

Continue to The Philadelphia Inquirer to read more…