Disrupting the value proposition

Whenever a significant new technology comes along, it's human nature to overreact. Andy Kessler tells some wonderful anecdotes about the furor over steam, electric, gasoline and nuclear power  sources in his book How We Got Here. We act like the technology will be disruptive of the previous mode of existence. There's lots of evidence that we're currently immersed in that overreaction to the technologies of online learning. It's not wrong to think there will be sweeping changes associated with online access, searchable archived content, immersive digital environments and free tools for self expression. It's wrong to think the technologies will drive the change.

The two disruptive business models for higher education I've proposed are not defined by online learning. Both the service based and peer based learning could be enhanced by online experiences. Yet both were generated by the kinds of subsequent employment the graduates will find and the kinds of learning best suited toward those objectives. They revise the "strategy canvas" in search of "blue ocean market space" as Kim and Mauborgne advised us to pursue in Blue Ocean Strategy. These models also seek out "bowling alley" niches for Crossing the Chasm (Geoffrey Moore). They also demonstrate Mastering the Hype Cycle (Fenn & Raskino) by rebounding after the overreaction fizzles out.

I've become convinced that Clayton Christensen's model of disruptive innovation gets it right. The technology is not itself disruptive. The new value proposition made easier with the technology moves the goal posts. There are non-consumers of existing business models who can be served by something new that is good enough for starters. There are jobs they are getting done with difficulty or not getting done at all with the current offerings. The disruptive value proposition helps them get their jobs done at last or done faster, better and/or cheaper. The value is experienced "in the eyes of the beholder", not the eyes of the technologists, inventors or promoters.  The new business model delivers that intangible value. It uses tangible products, services and technologies as a means toward the end of delivering that intangible value.

To come up with disruptive value propositions, we need to think of the end user in their own contexts. We need to empathize with their plight, feel their pain and walk in their moccasins. When we see the jobs they are trying to get done, the tools become useful in their context. We see how to best apply them without overreacting to the obvious benefits of the new technology. We change our orientation so that we're "selling holes, not electric drills".

No comments:

Post a Comment