The September 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review contains a research article by Almquist, Senior, and Bloch that attempts to quantify 'the value proposition' or, in their words, the customer's decision between what s/he sees ['perceives'] as the value and the asking price. I like the article because, as the authors readily admit, their work begins with the paradigm Maslow's hierarchy of value-familiar territory for many of us who have been involved in education.
Educators are inclined to focus, laser-like, on 'self-actualization'. We love to talk about how our work takes our students into new realms and provides them with the habits of mind needed to be self-starters, lifelong learners. The danger here is that, all too often, pedagogy can can get swept up in faddishness. In recent years some schools have fastened onto the internal baccalaureate [IB] as a brand-mark of excellence overlooking the reality that effective IB education has to be inserted into the institution's DNA.
The HBR article details a research project that Almquist et al. conducted to determine what does a customer really want? The authors point to a person who, in 2016, buys a $10,000 camera. In this era of really good iPhone pictures, why would anyone want to spend that much? In this case, the buyer's core motivation may be 'nostalgia'-s/he wants to feel like a modern day Maplethorpe or Ansel Adams.
For those of us in independent schools the value proposition is stark-why would someone pay $15,000-$65,000+ for a year's school tuition, when the public school is 'free'-if one disregards school taxes! Complicating the question is the reality that independent school education no longer fast-tracks graduates into marquee schools or colleges.
The researchers posit that that there are 30 elements of value that fall into four categories:
- Social Impact
Their pyramid is a wonder:
Note that this pyramids asks us to aspire to self-transcendence...
Sanskrit: बोधिसत्त्व In short, the issue we face is about value first and price second.