Articles Posted in Strategy

In the mid-90’s I had the pleasure of working for a genuine serial entrepreneur (defined as someone capable of having 10 number 1 priorities). He was charming, he was brilliant, and as the company got larger he was a disaster.  Eventually the lack of focus caught up with us and the company cratered.  It was only saved by a new infusion of capital, paring our development back to a single product line, and several years of patient turnaround work.

Setting priorities and focus for product development is one of the core questions all companies have to wrestle with. The answer determines how resources are focused. It also drives explicit and implicit organizational structure and power. It quite literally defines who you are as a business.

I’ve found that a simple framework with three options is the cleanest way to start this conversation. The three options are all valid, but they have very different strengths and weaknesses. Picking the right one for your company is critical.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are here to stay.  Publishing, despite the rumors, is not dead.  The real question is not “if” but “how” these two options will co-exist in the instructional materials market.

A starting point is sorting out where each type of resource makes the most sense. For me the two most important criteria are the degree of complexity in crafting the materials and the ongoing requirements for maintenance.  How these two criteria map against content looks something like this:

OER vs Print
Degree of Complexity

“During the gold rush its a good time to be in the pick and shovel business.”  Mark Twain

There are large amounts of capital flowing into the education publishing market today.  It appears we are experiencing a small gold rush as savvy technology investors bet that the digital transition in education will yield significant returns to those doing the disrupting.

Some basic facts:

One of the hard lessons I’ve learned over my career is that anything worth doing needs to be done several times before you can evaluate it.  The Experience Curve as a concept has been with us since 1885, yet many are still unaware of this common sense insight on how people learn and what it means for management decisions.

Here are a couple of examples, one from observing schools adopt new curriculum materials and one from my experience as a CEO.  Both are relevant to education companies.

New Curriculum Materials