Our inability to change our ‘business models’ may be the death of us

Saul Kaplan emphasizes in his new book, The Business Model Innovation Factory, that every day more organizations are finding that their ‘business models’ have run dry. This is challenging and stressful for leaders and employees since, as the book trailer below notes, most have been immersed in only one type of business model for their entire careers.

As is true for CEOs, so also for school superintendents and principals. Our inability to change our ‘business models’ may be the death of many schools (and universities) because new educational models are being created that are designed from inception for our new information, technology, learning, and economic landscapes.

9 Responses to “Our inability to change our ‘business models’ may be the death of us”

  1. Scott:
    Please don’t tell me that you’ve bought in to the “Education is a Business” mentality. We no longer treat fire fighting as a “Business”, and are in fact horrified at the stories when it was (and occasionally still is). We do not treat law enforcement as a “Business”, although some of the same forces allied against Public Education have done the same to the Prison system. The idea that everything should be treated as a business is, in my opinion, one of the worst and most socially destructive ideas in our society today (right up there with “Corporations are people”)

  2. Nope, not at all, Bill. But schools definitely have ‘business models’ (i.e., ‘ways of operating and fulfilling essential functions’) that need reexamination, renewal, and reformulation.

  3. Scott is 100% right. Of course there is a business component to schools and fire and police departments. They have to operate in ways that are sustainable and they have to provide value for what they cost. I have not read this book, and am not sure I have to; the thesis sounds highly self-evident in the current environment. When the world changes, which it is, either your operating model changes or you die. Just ask the dinosaurs. They were not a business either, but they sure as heck follow the same laws of evolution.

    • Ah, someone who has bought into the fallacy. Evolution is not Business, and “Social Darwinism” went out of favor in the last Gilded Age for a reason.
      How do you measure the “value” of a police department, a museum, a public park, or a school? Their value to a community is not measured in dollars (unless perhaps you think that property values accurately reflects their quality). How do any of those become “unsustainable” or how do they need to “change or die”?

  4. Whether it is a business model or some other sort of model the lesson here is that closed mental models can and do constrain innovation and adaptation to changing conditions.

    Firefighters respond to new hazards, adopt new techniques and tools, incorporate broader mandates than in the past, and are (generally) well-supported by citizens (if not governors and mayors).

    Educators tend to be slower to adopt to change, are ineffective public advocates for funding and other resources, have a “product” that is hard to quantify, and – at least in public schools – have limited control over the state in which their children arrive at school each day.

    Firefighters project an aura of competence, fitness for duty, and the results of their most public efforts are easily measured.

    Teachers often do not inspire the same level of public trust. They don’t wear uniforms (indeed, some dress slovenly and may be physically unfit) and the tools of their trade are subtle rather than obvious.

    Education IS evolving, and when evolution occurs adaptations are favored; those who can’t adapt “die.”

  5. It is not the strong who survive. It is those who are adaptable!

  6. Paradigms are changing by the hour in business. My own marketing (message) methods change significantly at least twice per year due to major business climate changes (within the industry), and new tech advances.

    Arguably, there has never in history been a more advantageous time to be a life long learner.

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