No one comes to Booth to run a newspaper. We came to Booth learn how to run a business, and ChiBus has provided a one-of-a-kind experience in change management. Before we begin thinking about the next generation of ChiBus leaders, we wanted pause and look back on the last year. These are the lessons learned at Chibus:
How to use market research to make effective decisions: How do you market to a savvy, largely indifferent market? We asked our readers and listened to what they said. This year has given us the opportunity to set a new content strategy based on market research. We also shifted the way in which our paper is distributed in print and online, by adding a newsstand at the entrance of Winter Garden and re-launching the website.
How to operationalize something with many moving pieces on a tight deadline: We did this every two weeks, creating eight pages of content per issue. ChiBus gives you a reason to interact with every segment of the student population, the alumni, and the Booth administration. If your summer internship involves working with a cross-functional project team to launch a pilot within a tight timeframe, you'll be ready after operationalizing ChiBus every two weeks.
How to shape an organization through culture: We wanted to create a sense of community and inclusion within the ChiBus staff. To do this, we established a lunch meeting to kick-off the planning of each issue in our newsroom. These lunch kick-off meetings have sparked ideas for some of our most popular and most controversial articles. Also, they are a lot of fun.
How to build a profitable business: While ChiBus is nonprofit, it is a completely self-sustaining student organization, without any student fees. We proactively chose not to apply for Booth community funds this year; we were confident that we could sell enough ads to maintain the operations. We also hoped other student groups would use those funds for coverage-worthy events. We moved closer to the cost-quality frontier by improving our cost structure in multiple areas while also improving quality. We have also started laying the groundwork to develop a dedicated ad sales operation.
How to tell a story: We write a paper that is distributed to approximately 1,500 MBA and PhD students. Running this paper has been a great exercise in communications – writing and editing are essential, of course. But, as you can see, we did much more than tell Booth stories. This is our story of change management at ChiBus.
Much still remains to be done, and we're looking for leaders who will continue our tradition of improvement.
Will you be part of ChiBus' next management story?