The M-Word

Updated: Fixed formatting

As spring is near, perhaps more in terms of calendar than climate, The Recorder’s Sunday editorial (here) discussing Muni is quite timely.

I think this is the salient part of the editorial(emphasis added):

From politicians to residents, each year the questions abound. Is Amsterdam Muni a bonus or a burden to taxpayers? Is it run efficiently? Could it be generating more revenue? Could it operate less expensively? Is it well-maintained?

[snip]

We’re hopeful that a group of four MBA program students from Union Graduate College will provide objective information.

The 10-week program, called a Capstone course, is one of the final classes MBA students take at Union. They will begin working with the golf commission March 30. When the students are finished, they will present an extensive report that includes strategy, marketing, operations and finance plans. The goal of the report, which is typically 30 to 50 pages, is to provide the city with a feasible business plan for the golf course. As great as it sounds, the best part is that it’s free.Our hope is that the city will utilize the Union report as the basis for future polices regarding the operation of the golf course.

I support this effort as well and in the interest of adding context to their case study, let me offer what I feel are the salient issues to be addressed in the report:

1) Governance — assess the current governance structure and evaluate the adequacy of this structure given the multiple stakeholders in Muni as a public entity and asset.

2) Financial Transparency — as a public entity, assess the quality of their financial planning and financial reporting vis-a-vis their public stakeholders. (Note: I’ll be interested in actually seeing financial statements on Muni as part of this report. If this report is to have any meaning, financial statements and projections must be provided to the students.)

3) Marketing — this section may be excluded as the city has nothing to market. In fact, I’d advise granting an ‘F’ to the team for even mentioning the term ‘marketing’ in their assessment or in their business plan. Whoever talks about marketing in a business plan anyway?

4) The Customer — how well does Muni meet the needs of customers and how do we go about acquiring more customers? Who is the customer? What does the customer want and what are they willing to spend?

5) Competitive Position — who competes with Muni? how do they compete?What can we learn from our competitors?

I think this will be a tough challenge for the MBA team so let’s see how this plays out. I’m looking forward to this report.

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