The more time you spend in school, the more you see the influence of business practices. … The corporate bible Good to Great sits on the bookshelf of nearly every principal, and a lot of Stephen Covey gets quoted at education conferences (98).
Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, published a monograph after learning that so many educators and other social service providers were relying on his book. In Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking Is Not the Answer, he clarified that while the fundamentals of leadership success translate throughout fields, people like principals not only are measured by standards other than profit, they also are restricted in decision-making in ways no corporate executives are. In 2002, an ice cream company chief named Jamie Robert Vollmer explained how he learned to stop criticizing schools for unbusinesslike behavior. Once he paid attention, he said, he learned that “schools are unable to control the quality of their raw material, they are dependent upon the vagaries of politics for a reliable revenue stream, and they are constantly mauled by a howling horde of disparate, competing customer groups that would send the best CEO screaming into the night” (104-105).
Profit is easy and relatively simple. Education is harder, messy, imprecise, different every year or room or day. It’s like the difference between conception and parenthood.
Perlstein, Linda. Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade. NY: Henry Holt, 2007.