getting buy-in from a skeptical sensei

Discussion in 'School Management' started by 333kenshin, Apr 30, 2020.

  1. 333kenshin

    333kenshin Yellow Belt

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    Hi folks,
    Hope you're all safe and healthy. Need some advice.

    I train and teach at the same karate dojo under the same sensei I started with 30+ years as a kid. I REALLY want the studio to survive.

    The studio has been chugging along, in the black but not exactly robust (the recession and MMA means we'll never see the 90s heyday). So COVID is an existential threat, and our best shot at survival is to leverage every silver lining possible. Luckily I believe there are some: people are more aware of the need for exercise than ever before, and the type who used to visit big gyms like 24 hour fitness are now open to more stimulating and engaging activities.

    I've brainstormed a handful of ideas to try to increase student numbers once quarantine lifts. Not saying all my ideas are sound, but that we have to try something, preferably several things, and fast, to see what works before the next quarantine hits come winter.

    But all this is contingent on getting buy in from my sensei. Thing is, he's a 60+ yo immigrant who for 30+ years has singlehandedly run his own business without almost any change. The concept of "business agility" doesn't exist. Free trial classes, automated online payments, partnerships with things like classpass, etc he digs in his heels at any suggestion.

    So how do I get his buy in to try these things in an effort to get numbers up to survive the new normal? Please help me help my sensei!
    Thanks,
    -Dave
     
  2. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    That's not going to be an easy sell. A lot of people go by the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" line of thinking.

    And you know the old question, "How many Martial Artists does it take to change a light bulb?"

    And the old answer, "Change, you want to change something? Nooooo!"

    I know how you feel, though, have to change with the times. And I'm going to have to remind myself of that all day today. I've been asked to be a guest instructor for a black belt class back east on that Zoom thing.

    I'm supposed to watch the first class today, so I can get a feel for it. Like I have any fricken' idea what the hell Zoom is.
     
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  3. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Start your own dojo....prove your ideas work and have him buy in that way.
     
  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I think Zoom has something to do with running video on super high speed...
     
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  5. 333kenshin

    333kenshin Yellow Belt

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    Starting my own studio was my plan for this summer, and I was laying down the groundwork (reaching out to gyms where I could rent space) right up til the COVID shot that plan full of holes.

    In fact, I was going to use my franchise studio as a way of showing my sensei that these methods are effective without compromising the integrity of the school's standards. But that option is moot, so I need to convince him that the studio is on track for insolvency if the virus returns next winter and we haven't adjusted our game plan.
     
  6. 333kenshin

    333kenshin Yellow Belt

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    I think it's fair to say Corona virus has broken pretty much everything


    that would be hilarious if it weren't so sad =)
     
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  7. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    At the end of the day if he doesn't want it then it doesn't happen. It's his school and he gets the final say
     
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  8. 333kenshin

    333kenshin Yellow Belt

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    Well yeah, and as John Maynard Keynes said, "in the long run we're all dead."
    My goal of posting here is to get advice on how to get him to see that avoiding financial disaster is possible if he takes action, before "the end of the day" (ie 2nd quarantine that we can't afford given status quo).
     
  9. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    A lot of our Guiding leaders are using it to host virtual meetings, the basic package is free but due to child protection issues we are supposed to used the paid ones which my unit cannot afford, even the cheapest. A lot of parents however are refusing to allow their daughters on it because of hacking and other security issues ( seems the FBI issued a genuine warning about it) I'm not up on all this and don't know how it affects users security etc though.
     
  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    There are things you can try, but I will add my cautionary voice to the others. Some folks just want to do things their way, and are resistant to change...especially change suggested by others. I was a primary instructor at my instructor's school for years, but was unable to affect much change there or even to stop a drift in a direction I saw (after I left, the drift accelerated, so I may have been slowing it).

    Firstly, if you're going to get his buy-in on anything, you have to present it in his language, figuratively speaking. Learn what his communication style is (it might be masked in classes by the training style he learned), and use that as a key to how you recommend. Some folks are driven by information, others by relationships, others by process, and others by bottom-line results. It doesn't matter how much your arguments make sense to you or to me. Until they "speak" to him in his language (communication style), he's unlikely to listen.

    The find what he cares about. He may care more about the tradition of his approach (including low-tech payment handling) than about keeping the school solvent. I know that seems odd, but it is true of many folks. So find out what he really cares about - what motivates him - and look for things that improve or protect those areas, while meeting the need you perceive.

    In the end, it may well be that the only way you can make these changes is to have your own school and make them there. Even if you prove they work and don't negatively affect the students or art, he may still not change. Some people are stubborn. Mostly those are folks who don't think like we do.
     
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  11. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I am guessing your instructor is of Asian decent? I have made posts in the past about the inherent communication gap and difficulty in 'getting through' to our instructor. I feel there is a Lot of cultural differences that we just do not understand. People say Americans are prideful but I feel Asians are so much more so in certain dimensions.

    I included Gerry's post because it is so spot on and worth reading again.

    "There are things you can try, but I will add my cautionary voice to the others. Some folks just want to do things their way, and are resistant to change...especially change suggested by others. I was a primary instructor at my instructor's school for years, but was unable to affect much change there or even to stop a drift in a direction I saw (after I left, the drift accelerated, so I may have been slowing it).

    Firstly, if you're going to get his buy-in on anything, you have to present it in his language, figuratively speaking. Learn what his communication style is (it might be masked in classes by the training style he learned), and use that as a key to how you recommend. Some folks are driven by information, others by relationships, others by process, and others by bottom-line results. It doesn't matter how much your arguments make sense to you or to me. Until they "speak" to him in his language (communication style), he's unlikely to listen.

    The find what he cares about. He may care more about the tradition of his approach (including low-tech payment handling) than about keeping the school solvent. I know that seems odd, but it is true of many folks. So find out what he really cares about - what motivates him - and look for things that improve or protect those areas, while meeting the need you perceive.

    In the end, it may well be that the only way you can make these changes is to have your own school and make them there. Even if you prove they work and don't negatively affect the students or art, he may still not change. Some people are stubborn. Mostly those are folks who don't think like we do."
     
  12. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    The answer is you can't make him do anything. He's obviously happy with how things are and it's not your place to tell him how to run his school. You can make your suggestions but it's his right to say no.

    I've known plenty of teachers who aren't interested in being commercial. They don't massive classes with hundreds of kids and classes with 50 students. They're happy just being around the style and teaching small classes. They'll accept new students but won't actively seek out new ones. Your instructor may not be happy or have the time or commitment to do that kind of thing.

    At the end of the day again. His school his choice and you just have to accept that. If it does shut down then that sucks but it's on him.
     
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  13. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Also....you say the guys run it for 30+ years by himself....he obviously knows what he's doing to be able to run a school for that long by himself. And yes obviously what's happening now is new and different but there's no reason to think HE can't handle it and that he'll close down without your ideas...just saying
     
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  14. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Okay last thing I'll say about this but if he's already said no then just leave it be, because if you keep pestering and saying "you need to do this or you'll close down" you'll only annoy him and you'll end up branded as a know it all who thinks he can do better than him.

    I've trained in multiple schools who've done things I don't agree with and if I'm in a high up position then I'll make suggestions. Somethings they have been listened sometimes they haven't but you present your argument state your opinion respectfully then if you don't get what you want then you just gotta take it on the chin and move on
     
  15. 333kenshin

    333kenshin Yellow Belt

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    Are these posts still online somewhere I could read? If you prefer not to post them publicly a direct message works too, thanks. Any perspective is beneficial.

    I should add that yes, he did immigrate from Asia to the US as an adult, but so did my parents so I have a fair bit of familiarity with these cultural issues.
     
  16. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I assume they are on my history on this forum.
     
  17. 333kenshin

    333kenshin Yellow Belt

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    Dang I neglected to include a fairly salient bit of info, which is that his wife was doing most of the business operations until she passed some time back, after which studio volunteers picked up many of those tasks (including myself for website updates and now zoom classes). So in fact there are swaths of the business operations which he depends on volunteers such as myself, which is why I'm more invested in driving these changes than a typical student or instructor.

    Hope that clarifies things. Of course all executive decision making goes through him, that goes without saying. But it's not always the case that he has greatest visibility into relevant facts on the ground, hence my quandary of seeing trends, signs, and actions that he might not appreciate the significance of
     
  18. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Not sure if you mean they're refusing to allow them to use the paid or basic one (I get that you can't afford the paid one either way). But they've updated a lot of their security features over the last few weeks due to all the zoom bombing. At least according to my gf who helps people use zoom.

    A free alternative (although no clue about the security or ability for large groups) is to have everyone create a guiding specific gmail, then use google hangouts.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2020
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  19. ShortBridge

    ShortBridge 2nd Black Belt

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    I get about 5 or 6 unsolicited offers a month to market my school, develop an expanded curricula, maximize my profits, grow my membership, franchise! etc. The fatal flaw in every one of these: No ever asks me what my goals are. No one really knows how many students I have or what my long term plan is. They assume. I'm an American, it must be about money and fame, right?

    Have you asked your sensei? If he's passing down what was passed down to him and you're trying to convince him that he could be 24 hour fitness, you could have a disconnect. He might not volunteer that information because he might see you struggling to figure this out for a decade as part of your training, especially if you've been there since you were a kid and he's taught you the physical art.
     
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  20. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    They won't allow them to use any of the Zoom types, there's a fear I think of children using internet 'chat' type things, we do have strong privacy and child protection protocols but we can't make people use them. the internet supplies here have reported a huge strain on the internet here as we all use it so much at the moment! The circle of doom is being seen a lot at the moment. :D A lot of schools here are using the internet as well, not sure what they use but 'internet' schools are becoming a thing, there isn't much home schooling here in the UK so I'm wondering if it will catch on more now. Some martial arts clubs are also doing the internet 'classes here but not many, I think it's difficult for a number of reasons, most instructors are either still working or are in lockdown with children who have to be do their school studies so not a lot of time left for internet martial arts.123
     

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