Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What Happens When You Miss The Boat: Education


Technology is becoming increasingly pervasive in every industry. As this continues to happen industries are being turned into fast changing landscapes of product offerings. One big industry being affected right now is the educational industry. Clayton M. Christensen, the author of Why Good Companies Fail to Thrive in Fast-Moving Industries, says that “... customers and financial structures of successful companies color heavily the sorts of investments that appear to be attractive to them…” K-12 Education, being a state regulated industry, has been stuck with this problem since the 1980s. They continued to invest in what they knew even though the world and technology around them were changing. So how does a company catch up to innovation?

The Back Bay Battery Case was a great example of a company that was stuck looking for a good way to innovate. Like many companies in the tech sector, they missed the chance to jump on the Li-Po and Li-Ion boat. This limited the industries that they could sell to. So how did they get out of it? They worked within their NiMH space to innovate. They could see that they could enhance technology features that were important to their customers. By enhancing recharge time and energy density they could differentiate their offerings. In K-12 Education the school did miss the boat on mass disruption of technology but they did work within their means to innovate the education process. They took advantage of the strides in higher educational learning and upgraded the pedagogy to reflect new cognitive understanding and practices.

Another case of missed innovation was the Barco Projectors Systems written by Rowland Moriarty. In this case, Barco projectors get very complacent with the way the market is moving and only innovates incrementally. Sony, a competitor company, was selling them the tubes they needed in their projector designs. Barco was blindsided when Sony came out with a projector using a new tube that would not fit in their current design. Barco had to redesign everything to match this new tube and compete with a company who controlled a supply of the most vital part of their product. You can see this happening in the online education world, learning software and digital tutors have moved to the point where they are creating their own content, classes, and schools. This disruption has hit the HigherEd system and is on its way down to the K-12 system. One way K-12 has been able to work around this system, other than regulation, is to partner with online learning companies like IXL and Zearn to turn the teachers work and curriculum into blended learning experiences.

Many companies get stuck in their current capabilities even though they need to be aware of how the market is changing. Both these cases show both how companies get stuck and find their way out. K-12 Education is no exception and must avoid continuing to get stuck. Like larger tech companies they can do a lot to become agiler in their changes and developments.

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