Lessons from The Hummer

Last week, after failing to find a buyer for the brand, General Motors announced that it was officially dropping the Hummer. And while many of you, like me, probably wondered why it took so long to make this decision, consider that at one time GM offered people that purchased Hummers and other oil guzzling cars, gas cards to help subsidize (or better yet, justify) the use of these mammoth vehicles. I’m sure future case studies will analyze and dissect the history of the Hummer – but what lessons can we draw from this story as it relates to college recruiting?  When you consider how the current economic environment has already impacted college recruiting, one can draw similarities between the challenges of the auto industry and college recruiting. Particularly as it relates to the era AFTER the storm.

Take for instance the example of the Hummer’s architect – GM. As it entered bankruptcy, the organization said it would become a lean and smaller company; that it would conduct business differently. Indeed, GM has discarded many of its brands and attempted to whittle down its bureaucratic and traditional structure and replace it with something more focused and nimble. Instead of creating new vehicles using the same tired marketing approach, GM has pledged to pay more attention and be responsive to its consumers. While the jury is still out on whether or not this approach will work, there is certainly some merit in their attempt to improve. So what lessons can college recruiting draw from GM’s ordeal? How will the industry (college recruiting) need to change in lieu of economic events? Here are some thoughts:

1) Be Responsive -  College recruiting demands that organizations and colleges be responsive to consumers (students) that demand innovation using technology and creative recruiting approaches. Responsive means tapping into the need of the market and filling it, quickly.

2) Be Collaborative - All stakeholders involved in college recruiting must have a range of capabilities; skills that foster interaction, collaboration, and community. Everyone involved in the college recruiting process must be dexterous and approachable; always aligned with what’s best ultimately for the student.

3)  Be Amendable – The new era of college recruiting will demand the stakeholders be flexible, fluid, and engaged. Processes and functions will need to adapt to a constantly changing work environment and organizational needs.

4) Be Horizontal – The idea of convention will not be more important than results. The new environment will highlight continuous learning and originality. Structure will no longer be a hierarchy but a matrix.