Lake Forest Graduate School of Management was ahead of its time when it started; its program was very different from other schools’. In 1946, LFGSM offered a business management program taught by business leaders to working professionals that focused on practical, relevant education that could be immediately applied in the workplace. This was significantly different from traditional programs of the time that relied on tenured faculty and business theory as the primary components of their programs.
LFGSM enjoyed years of success, growth and evolution, partly attributable to its innovative model. However, business education changed over the years, and many institutions began to offer programs that resembled LFGSM’s. At the same time we were losing some of our differentiation among existing degree programs, new alternatives to a Master of Business Administration degree also emerged. More schools and more types of programs became available to students. Schools began to offer specialized business degrees, online learning and certificate programs. All of these are potential substitutes to the general management, classroom-based MBA and present many different options for prospective students to satisfy their business education needs. The business education market is undergoing permanent shifts in response to environmental changes in technology, the economy, social interaction and globalization.
We are responding to these changes by positioning ourselves for growth through new learning approaches in our legacy programs and new product development. A key point in our differentiation and an important component in the delivery of our business management education is the faculty. Our faculty’s ability to help students directly relate class material to actual business situations is the backbone of our practical business management education.
LFGSM continually seeks out the most current business thinking to integrate into the curriculum and our mission calls us to ensure that our graduates know how to properly apply it. Faculty members serve as subject matter experts on curriculum councils and work with the course deans to develop curricula that address not only current business management theory and the School’s competencies, but also critical skills that students will find essential to advance their careers.
Students value our close ties to the business community and this is a primary reason they choose our program. They also appreciate our student-centric approach. LFGSM students are working professionals who desire to advance their careers through general management education. Our current marketing tag line, Broad Thinkers – Strong Leaders, sums up this goal.
LFGSM follows a customer intimate value proposition, which in addition to our educational model has been a key factor in leading to our success as a school. Customer intimacy is basic to our culture and an integral part of how we do business. This was reflected in the findings of one of our first AQIP Action Projects: Articulation and Integration of Organizational Values. After surveying and holding focus groups with representatives from all stakeholder groups, three values emerged: Commitment to Customers, Integrity and Continuous Improvement. These three values define our decisions and describe our mindset – they are also the foundation of our culture and help us differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.