#Change11 Have I told the story before? Says Clay Christensen

In this compelling presentation by Clay referred by Steve in his post, Clay tells an extraordinary story and experience about steel and milk shake, and many other great insights about how technology and strategies have caused company’s growth and demise.

Steve says:

“Firms need to be evaluating future investments strategically in terms of how they will affect their capacity to go on delighting their customers for a sustained period in the future.

For managers trained in traditional business school thinking, the idea that pursuit of profit is the problem, rather than the solution to the economy’s problems, may come as a shock. For business school professors who have spent their lives teaching the focus on profits and the use of IRR and RONA to measure profits, the coming change may be even more disturbing.

Like all new ideas, in the first instance it will be rejected. Then it will be ridiculed. Finally it will be self-evident and no one will be able to remember why anyone ever thought otherwise.”

Clay asks twice: Have I told the story before? He also re-tells the stories of successes and failures that were learnt from history, which seems to reflect similar patterns of disruption due to technology followed by successes for the copied producers and competitors in the niche market – who know how to copy the products and technology and leverage the value proposition offered to the giants, and killing the giants progressively and successfully.  That is a great lesson for everyone in the business and education to learn.

In reflection, this has happened to big education business, and even prominent education providers, including lots of HE and VET institutions, where their core competencies have been gradually shaken off by the other niche and “smart” providers in the education “market”, causing lots of disruption to their main areas of expertise.  As Clay has mentioned, this has impacted on how education been delivered, and how small and more “aggressive” and customized education providers have been able to penetrate into the online learning market, and succeeded in taking a significant market share in the education and training business.

Why was this phenomena in disruption of technology also happening in the education (HE and VET) in particular?  May be Clay could elaborate on this pattern using his model developed too.  There are still lots of gaps in our understanding of the disruptive force due to technology on our education, learning and ecology.

Innovation in education and learning via networks, technology, media and its affordance

This may also be the case with MOOC, when it has been perceived as a way to innovate and “revolutionise” the way education and learning has been delivered in individual formal institutions.  This was based on the premises that existing education system is mostly silo based, with individual faculties, and specialized  courses and walled gardens, based on standardized curriculum as the only acceptable education for accreditation.

What MOOCs have now offered, say with the MOOCs, Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) courses and the latest MIT’s MITx initiative are viewed as new and wonderful experiments, packed with lots of growth opportunities.

“President Hockfield called this “a transformative initiative for MIT and for online learning worldwide. On our residential campus, the heart of MIT, students and faculty are already integrating on-campus and online learning, but the MITx initiative will greatly accelerate that effort. It will also bring new energy to our longstanding effort to educate millions of able learners across the United States and around the world. And in offering an open-source technological platform to other educational institutions everywhere, we hope that teachers and students the world over will together create learning opportunities that break barriers to education everywhere.”” MITx initiative.

Do these mark out the strategic move to overcome the “disruptive education coupled with technology” in the education market?

Value proposition as offered through open-sourced education and free-of-charge participation and engagement is quite fitting into the notion mentioned by Clay: “Whereas products are easy to copy, integration around a job creates defensible differentiation”.

So, my take away from this reflection is:   Product (such as education, and MOOC) is simple enough to copy, especially in Higher Education, experience is however difficult to be repeated, solely by the copying of the product alone.  As mentioned in my past posts, no two stories (MOOCs or online learning experiences) are the same, due to complexities of learning, education, ecology and state of technologies.

Have I told the story before? As mentioned by Clay.  We might have told these stories repetitively, and some people still believe in looking at few aspects of the equation – to improve learning and education, that is improve teachers’ performance, introduce more technology into the curriculum, or improve the curriculum.  We might need to know and understand what makes a valuable learning experience and what drives customers (learners) to “buy” (learn) the products instead.

However, if we are just thinking about what the customers (learners) want, then I think we have missed lots of opportunities, as they may only believe in learning with certain educators, experts, and not through the affordance of technologies, or the stories, just as Clay has mentioned, which are worthy of our reflection.  We just need to be careful in reflecting on what these stories mean for our learning, and not what we are being told by others, or by writers of books, or the mere reading of books or posts.

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