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Unearth Deep Digital Innovation By Questioning Industry Assumptions – Education is A Great Example

by Dave Aron  |  November 19, 2012  |  Comments Off on Unearth Deep Digital Innovation By Questioning Industry Assumptions – Education is A Great Example

I have spent the last two years researching deeply innovative business models across all industries. One of the findings was that very few companies have been deeply innovative, at least partly because they have mainly used information and technology to tune their existing business processes rather than rethink their business model.

Education is a great example – especially primary and secondary. Most schools are still operating as they were a hundred years ago – classrooms full of kids being taught by a teacher, then doing homework at night. Sal Khan, creator of Khan Academy (free, short video tutorials on maths and other subjects), has written an inspiring book called ‘One World School House’, about new educational business models, including ‘flipping education’, where kids study at night, and do ‘homework’ in class during the day – addressing the issues of not engaging in class, need to learn at different speeds, and the need for help with homework.

In his book, Khan couches much of the discussion around the need to challenge deeply held assumptions about education – for example that learning happens at school, and practice happens out of school. When we are searching for deep innovation opportunities, we need to challenge the deeply held assumptions that prevail in our industries. For example:

  • The assumption that manufacturing has to happen at a factory
  •  The assumption that patients have to be gathered together in a hospital to achieve economies of scale. (It has always seemed a bit dodgy to me to bring all those germs together around all those sick people!)
  • The assumption that we have to do human resource management for our staff. (More on that in my next blog entry.)

Technology changes are coming thick and fast and technologies like 3D printing, sensor networks, telemedicine, crowdsourcing and cloud collaboration can and will change the above assumptions.

Consider running workshops with business and IT staff to uncover assumptions about your industry, and how technology trends could challenge them.

The only slight pity and irony is that “One World School House” itself is so conventional – my Kindle version is a 259 page textual book.


Dave Aron
VP & Gartner Fellow
9 years with Gartner
26 years in IT industry

Dave Aron is a vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner's CIO Research group, focusing on IT leadership issues. Mr. Aron is a thought leader on business and IT strategy, mergers and acquisitions, CEO-CFO-CIO interactions, benefits realization, governance….Read Full Bio

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