They Are Coming After Your Students and Said So!

Dr. Barrett Mosbacker, PublisherAt a recent Executive Symposium on Distance Education that I attended a public school superintendent, not knowing I was from a private school, said to the group (to paraphrase), "we are developing a robust online program and we fully expect to recapture students from home schooling families and private schools."

I just reread portions of Christensen's excellent book, "Disrupting Class".  I am particularly interested by his analysis of the "Dimensions of Agreement" and the "Tools of Cooperation".  I have attached graphics depicting the concepts.  These are particularly important to me because it can be difficult to get staff to accept change--I find this particularly problematic among conservative Christians, whom by definition, are "conservative."  :-)  In my estimation, moving forward, carefully and thoughtfully, with distance learning programs in imperative but it is not an easy task--the learning curve is steep, creating a feasible business plan is critical, and getting buy in can be tough.  But, Christensen argues, refreshingly, that consensus is not necessarily the goal--cooperation is!  I find that a refreshing approach given the emphasis on consensus building over the last several decades in the management literature.  I was also surprised by his observation that change is most difficult when there is wide agreement on the goals and processes currently in place.  Generally, one would think that this is a good thing. Upon reflection, however, it is easy to see why change in an organization can be very difficult when the organization is in the upper right quadrant of the dimensions of agreement chart.  This means that one of our challenges is to challenge the consensus on the goals and/or processes currently in place, which is all the more difficult when the organization is successful.  In other words, success can actually work against us, as in "good is the enemy of great."  It is what I'm calling the "Hobbit Effect."

In the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbits went merrily about their lives oblivious to the fact that Mordor was rising and threatening them.  Only a few saw the danger and acted.  I wonder if distance learning and charter schools aren't the "Mordors" of Christian education.  While we argue about uniforms, dress codes, and tuition discounts, the public system is installing a robust distance learning infrastructure and charters are multiplying.  Will we wake up in 10 years and wonder what happened to our market?’

Christensen (2008), Disrupting the classroom, p. 187

Dimensions of Agreement Christensen 

Tools of Cooperation Christensen

I am so impressed with Christensen's book that I've ordered two more:
The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do

The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth