Execution Plan

Revised April 4, 1998 By Brad Cox

As distinct from the either-or choices offered by liberal arts universities, technical training schools, and organizational consulting firms, this Plan for a New University's proposes to simultaneously deliver

The How document explains how we might how we might, over time, assemble specific products from reusable task subcomponents that could serve the markets presently served by liberal arts universities, technical training companies, and organizational change consultants.

This execution plan describes how we might achieve this objective.

Funding

There are two alternatives for funding such an enterprise, externally and internally. External funding involves proceeding as a traditional business would; gathering investment capital in several rounds based on a formal business plan and hiring staff to build products when funding is in place. Internal funding involves proceeding without funding by building products as an off-shoot of already funded activities; eg as faculty teaching courses within GMU.

The rest of this plan assumes the internally funded model. This is not because the externally funded option isn't viable. I believe that it is. It is because raising venture capital requires skills and interests that are not this author's strong suit. I went through that once while cofoundounding a software development company and have maintained ties with the venture capital companies we used then. But my involvement was as CTO. Raising venture capital requires CEO skills.

The internally funded model assumes that this author will move from PSOL (Program on Social and Organizational Learning) into TIPP (The Institute of Public Policy) at GMU. TIPP has a strong entrepreneurial bent emphasizing external relationships with government and industry. I've discussed this with TIPP's leadership and faculty and they seem quite supportive of this approach. Working inside TIPP seems to avoid the faculty resistance that was the main reason for proposing that this be undertaken as an external for-profit venture.

Courses

We'd build up an inventory of products (courses) as explained in the How document entirely within TIPP, expanding based on revenues generated by extra sales of courses packaged in this manner. In other words, we'd expand from the one course in the inventory (Taming the Electronic Frontier) by using a similar collaborative relationship to the one I adopted with Thomasina Borkman. I've discussed with with Jack High and he's agreed to consider it for the International Marketing course he plans to offer to Lockheed-Martin this fall and expanding to his Pricing course this spring. This is probably about as much as I could handle in view of my half-time assignment to Educom/IMS this year.

Degrees/Certificates

TIPP is also considering another option; making the MAIT (MA in International Transactions) degree program available via the Use the Right Tool for the Job philosophy (described in the How section). Essentially, those parts of the degree that are best handled face-to-face would be scheduled together, perhaps 2-3 times per year. The rest would be handled via the internet and other technologies. This would be a natural program to undertake because of the MAIT's international emphasis.

Although part of this work would involve repackaging courses for (partial) delivery via technology, most of the work would be automating the degree program itself: registration of students, collection of fees, announcing and monitoring scheduling events, and so forth. This would involve retargeting software that I developed for PSOL's MNPS degree program but which was never completely deployed and used.

Grants

Finally, the NSF Solicitation in Knowledge Networking might fund parts of this effort. I submitted a letter of intent for the April 1, 1998 deadline that proposed to apply Coordination Technology to these alternatives:

  1. Coordination Technology and Distance Education: The application that has been developed and studied most thoroughly to date is a television- and internet-based distance education course, "Taming the Electronic Frontier" (http://virtualschool.edu/98c).
  2. Coordination Technology and Organizations: A major telecommunications company is deploying a ambitious coordination technology application, analogous to the one used in this course. Instead of being targeted towards individual learning, this one is targeted at organizational learning across multiple companies and divisions. We've been asked by its CEO to study the initial rollout of this system (this fall), put their practical experiences on a theoretical basis, and use computer modeling technologies to quantify the speed of organizational learning and change before and after deployment.

They responded that both are within the scope of this solicitation and encouraged me to apply. I expect to submit a full proposal before the May 8 deadline with Arthur Melmed, Chris Rodrigo and perhaps others. The finished proposal is at http://virtualschool.edu/nsf.

Author: Brad Cox