Thursday, 19 October 2017

The business of academia is failing UK?

Luke Johnson's ode to capitalism in his Sunday Times Animal Spirits article last week is right on the money in its concern over the weak quality of UK universities and Business Schools.

Hopefully the coffee and cake guru (and cancer with his ICE Cancer School - surely NASA's DNA work on the P53 cancer gene for Mars 2030 flights is calling out for his dynamic efforts in UK?) in his new professorship at King's Business School will be able to help resuscitate UK business learnings in academia.
And why shouldn't King's Business School rival Harvard or Yale or Stanford?

Oxford and Cambridge and LSE may be excellent universities in general but few would rate their business schools. Kellogg School of Management university could do better half-asleep in lectures.

Indeed with UK universities punching above their weight in both the Times and Sunday Times university leagues where is the UK MIT, or even UK RAND and UK DARPA? Surely the latter a shoo-in for King's also with its War Studies dept?

Project Gilgamesh extending human life span to at least 150 years - the first 1,000 year old man or woman born already? - would possibly be impossible for King's.

While the UK knowledge economy and Creative Industries are hampered by a lack of learning rigour. Fashion perhaps strutting its stuff through the London College of Fashion at the Olympics site. A failure though in support of the Hanoi College of Fashion from a recent ASEAN visit.

But, with my Sincerity Advertising hat on, I was astonished that the University of Texas - apt for the United States of Advertising even as it loses ground to UK Great Advertising - is one of the few universities anywhere with its own dedicated Advertising School and courses.

They must be laughing at UK all across the South West States. For, in my previous Visiting Professor role at Watford Advertising College - the UK's leading advertising college - and other universities I've long argued for such a remit. Even leading on making the best use of MOOC's and alumni.

Who would balk at Prof. Johnson insisting on a Patisserie Valerie or three on King's campus - maybe a Starbucks or seven too? - and some HFSS alternatives in with the lardy cake. Simon Stevens NHS Chief insisting on bargain buckets of gutbuster lard n' sweets (mostly) banned from NHS vending machines. If only they vended cholesterol sweeties. One for Nestle or Nabisco?

As with Dreamland now failing on its food ratings reform and fresh eyes, and struggling on from council corruption and mismanagement, even after lavish amounts of Lottery funding, is needed.

Perhaps a Robotics Dept - not UK's strongest suit at the moment - could deliver on Prof.Johnson's article in not just endless theorising but sourcing the best of the moment, reviewing and recommending and forecasting to move UK plc into assembly line production. Unilever and CocaCola something to add on that last one for UK management learnings?

I'll save a few points on English language learning schools and methods for another day.

And Bechtel, Mott and Murphy won't sit around waiting forever for new housing construction methods. Shouldn't Kenya's Kibera slums the largest in the world be a test case for a new version of Homes Fit For Heroes? Other Commonwealth, and ASEAN, slums might be keen on that too - a Prof Johnson Visiting Professorship to Nairobi or Mumbai or Jakarta or Manila University?

All the more absurd is Kent academia given the closure of CCU Broadstairs campus - various £20M buildings on the rates opened less than a decade ago (King's School buyout for $1?), or overbuild vanity projects from tax: a half-empty new mega-library in the Age of Kindle? Student housing on the rates and greenbelt and sports fields, rather than student digs in the private sector or Cliftonville? Million dollar Vice Chancellor - and rafts of deputies - salaries?

Indeed there's an argument for universities to take on more impartial public sector functions such as elections - the best way to rig an election after all is to screen out the candidates or count the ballots. My MP and Mayor "Stop the Corruption. Stop the Construction. Stop the Pollution" campaign halted in the first election some 5 years ago due to concerns over even mentioning (council) corruption on the ballot.

The same torpor and delay in Kent as policies - Pleasurama? Manston 3? Thor mercury? Brett 2? Carter 4? - are shunted into reverse to await democratic face-saving with the next election.

While weak self-regulation over utilities - whether water or energy - or the notorious failures of Bar and Lawyer corruption long needing more robust and impartial scrutiny than fraudsters such as Lord Grabiner of One Essex Court, Britain's most corrupt set of barristers, and BHS would care to explain. Secret shareholders in a plc? Fake invoices presented to Court? High Court denials then confessions - isn't that perjury even (especially) for a barrister and lawyers?
If Lord Grabiner is the apogee of weak corporate governance then Professor Johnson has his work cut out in reversing the rot in business or law even with the King's Law School.

While one Sincerity friend near the end of a 3 year media degree at one Kent university that shall remain nameless - Canterbury Christchurch seeing as you ask, near the bottom of UK university leagues, and with Kent University needing a refit for a global 200 university in Kent unless Malaysia's UK universities have a view - had never even heard of David Ogilvy.

Ogilvy a figure perhaps second only to Alex Osborn in the UK and USA surge in advertising post WW2. The aphorism that you wouldn't produce a bad ad with Ogilvy's rules, but not a good one either, a little harsh. She had heard of David Beckham though so her degree wasn't a total waste of £9,000 tuition fees and minimal tuition and a hessian tote bag.

With just 13.4% of Fortune 500 companies of 1955 still on the list in 2011, USA business in trouble - Amazon,Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Google/Alphabet and YouTube almost all created or peaking in the last 20 years. How many Chinese or Indian Fortune 500 companies in the next decade? Dynamic UK companies such as Jardines and HSBC based on UK-China trade.

Perhaps only the History of Advertising Trust a beacon in UK for disseminating knowledge on advertising and no doubt receptive to wider funding and support and links with schools such as King's.

Luke is right also to despair at the winging it quality of many Beckham Studies or Eastendersology courses and noodling dissertations of almost no worth at all. DHL the only Fortune 500 company founded from a dissertation, or was it FedEx?

Even a Start Up Nation School with Israeli - and Palestinian or Lebanese or Jordanian - universities? Impossible. But permanent war never lasts forever.
Former Transport Chair, Liverpool's dynamic MP Louise Ellman, giving Republican Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania a run for his money with her Zafira inquiry, after the GM ignition switch recall of 800,000 Chevy Cobalt cars with a $2 ignition switch repair delay causing at least 13 deaths in head-on road collisions and airbag failures.

All the more concerning as the car price-point attractive for parents buying teenagers their first car so the lives of upto 153 young motorists snuffed out.
Even the UK-USA Special Relationship foundering as UK's second largest trading ally seeks other markets for its supersize cakes and smaller cars. Indeed with Motor City USA - whether Detroit or Diego San - USA's car industry long a giant of capitalism and management learning.

Surely Professor Johnson could urge an Auto Industry School at King's or elsewhere an Aviation and Rail and Space Schools, to mine the best learnings from Ford or Sloan even lathe worker Frederick W. Taylor - indeed with another Mercedes airbag recall of 400,000 cars and VW, and others, emissions scandals and Zafira fires, the world needs a more rapid and resilient response to auto-tech failures. Lives literally depend on it - as does UK as a Road Safety Superpower and 1M deaths globally.

I know there probaly isn't room on the King's campus now (did I mention the acres of space at Broadstairs campus?) but could a Road Safety PHD be crammed in or Professor Johnson inisist a few desks are found and pushed together for a Resilience doctorate?

And if the P53 cancer gene is crying out for a focused business response surely the other dynamic Johnson, Tylenol's Ambassador Woody, as well as Unilever's dynamic CEO Paul Polman, fresh from celebrating the Lifebuoy soap Kenya handwash campaign, could roll up his sleeves and grasp the opportunities for Zero Disease by 2030. At worst 2035.

Luke may even need to issue them a free pair or two of Zoggs sunglasses to shade their eyes and wallet from the dazzling opportunities.

Surely Johnson and Johnson and Johnson and Polman may be the worse name for a company ever (and Garbutt? There has to be one fool in the room) but ideal for their contribution to a new UK Business Council - Liam Fox can't sit in a room or on a plane all by himself coming up with random trade deals. As a doctor suckled on the tax-teat of the NHS and then Parliament, he's done rather well so far but surely needs some heavyweight business support?

If Ambassador Woody is out at the ball game or down the beach surely Messrs Reckitt and Benckiser could step up to the plate? Even the Heinz boys of Preston? Or Givaudin perfumes and the almost as-sweet aroma of CupaSoup Ashford?

The UNSDG30 providing a clear framework for delivery of polio pills, HIV vaccines, TB nasal sprays and so on. With London the TB capital of Europe the danger, and opportunity, that much closer to home - could King's even squeeze in a Pandemic School on their campus?

Indeed an astonishing failure of UK's 130 universities is its lack of cohesive USA and ASEAN links but also dedicated Cancer and Dementia departments in each university. No wonder it takes decades to find a disease and then decades more for a cure.

While a Ministry of Reconstruction for Europe's waterfront in Libya and Syria as well as Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan - and now Yemen - long overdue whether within government or academia.

And I know, I know, there isn't room at King's overcrowded campus from the above, but surely a Media School could be squeezed in - part of its Advertising School? - to review European film and television reforms and learning given the Ofcom review even computer games and VR and EKFOS.

Certainly Luke is right that UK universities and business schools are infected with more failure than is tolerable in 21st century Great Britain and not immune to reform.

Let's hope Professor Johnson is at least promoted to Vice-Chancellor this side of the next academic year.


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