Monday, October 21, 2013

Excellence in Education- Clayton Christensen

You have a ton of smart people in a room, but when Clayton Christensen came in and spoke to top education leaders at the Excellence in Education crowd, they all got a lot smarter.  He is just amazing the way he takes complex topics of affecting change and performance and brings it into education.

Some random notes -
  • Education leaders have to think more deeply about measurement of education - what do we truly need to measure
  • We mis-measure so many things in this country - he went through an in-depth analysis of the ratios that most businesses think are important and later tied it to the fact that it drives outsourcing to the point the company is no longer needed (think Dell)
  • Recessions taking much longer to get over now - because we are only focused on efficiency because it drives the ratios business are held accountable for. 
  • Three types of innovation
    • Marketing creating initial innovation becomes more affordable create the most jobs 
    • Sustaining make markets vibrant but don't create jobs. Just improving a current product that just replaces another product. 
    • Efficiency cause job losses and free up capital 
  • All the ratios in business focus on efficiency and market creation. Therefore business focuses only on efficiency driving down jobs 
  • Cost of capital is zero. Trillion dollars sitting in private equity but entrepreneurs can't get it because the ratios don't work for market creation which is what we need to create jobs
So we don't want to be like businesses where the measures we use drive us to the wrong behaviors.

Second issue in education that is key -
The performance that customers can absorbed is actually moving up less than businesses are creating innovations. Business innovations consistently exceed what customers really want. And that is happening in education -

Innovations are happening so fast in education that they are far exceeding the abilities of students and teachers to use those innovations - so we are not going to get the maximum impact.

I have seen so many new and interesting online innovations directed at education in the last year - but they are not spreading because we are saturating our teachers with technology and NOT providing the training they need to use it.  

Phase II of his talk covered something we are all aware of but not really thinking about how to fix -
We are outsourcing all the work in our homes.  A few generations ago we had to do everything in the home. There was a lot of work so all the children in the house had to work for parents and do hard things. People coming out of those homes had more confidence because they had accomplished many things in their childhood. Now all the work is outsourced and kids don't do much work in the home.   So now parents work for their children bringing them to play-dates, sports, activities etc.  

We have to make sure that we are raising children who are committed to learn

Phase III of the talk went on to talking about people in general -
He referenced a favorite leader in motivation - Frederick Herzburg who wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review - One more time: How do we motivate employees.
  • Factors that dissatisfy us  - Working environment, inconvenient costly products and services. Disingenuous leaders and colleagues 
  • Factors that convince us - Evidence from experts, others who believe, theories, illustrations. Not quite motivating if you are convinced that it is important or useful but it might not cause you to get up off the ouch
  • Factors that actually motivate - Opportunity to achieve, responsibility, recognition, the need to feel needed, helping others so can achieve
Education needs to motivate. In order to motivate we have to use the Tools of Cooperation and Change

Having a vision is one hing but gaining consensus that the vision is the way forward is a whole different thing and the only way to truly move forward. 

A great way to spend a morning - if we could follow his advice, we could truly get things done in education.