Friday, December 11, 2009

What Job Is Your Product Being Hired For?

This is the million dollar question asked by Harvard business guru, Clayton Christensen.

He's a big thinker when it comes to the art of innovation. Whether working on The Next Big Thing or simply trying to figure it out, this is a guy I love to learn from.

FRIDAY'S POST just came across a recent talk by Professor Christensen to a group of educators. Lordy, if there's a category ever in need of disruptive innovation, our schools, from kindergarten all the way through university, have to be among those most in need of serious transformation. Maybe it ought to be required viewing for every educator drawing a paycheck today.

Professor Christensen's research suggests that the job kids hire schools for is to help them feel more successful, and have time and a place to enjoy their friends. When schools fail to do the job, the Professor says kids will look to fill unmet needs by eventually dropping out or video-gaming or mallrat-packing or gang-banging.

In my state, Minnesota, only about a quarter of today's ninth graders will make it through college. That's a troubling statistic in this global high-tech knowledge economy of ours. Makes you wonder if schools get the message they aren't doing the job they're hired for very well anymore.

Oh, by the way, if you believe technology in the classroom is the answer, it's not says Professor Christensen. He says don't look for much impact from all those spiffy new computers in the classroom, unless it's accompanied by new models of teaching.

This brings to mind our friend Fred the Math Teacher and his model of doing school backward, featured in one of our November posts. Would that The Professor and The Math Teacher could meet. That'd be a great mash-up of 21st century theory, practice and what-job-is-school-being-hired-for-re-definition in one room.

Clayton Christensen's recent talk runs about 50 minutes and it covers innovation in business as well as government and education.

It is Must-Watch TV.

No matter if you are a leader in business or government or education or not-for-profit, you will find tremendous value watching this presentation. So, FRIDAY'S POST highly recommends you treat yourself to an hour with Clayton Christensen.

How great would it be if your customers someday said The Next Big Thing you invented did exactly the job they hired it for?


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