All views and opinions expressed here are entirely my own and do not represent TU Dublin in any way.

Entries in Disruptive Technology (1)


What might disruptive education look like?

I have been listening to Horace Dediu's analysis of Apple's success since Aiden Kenny introduced me to The Critical Path podcast last year. His theory on competition through disruptive technologies is particularly interesting. Based on the writing of his former professor at Harvard, Clay Christensen, it proposes that companies like Apple achieve success by disrupting the existing market. In The Inovator's Solution Christensen describes how major industry leaders can be overtaken by smaller players applying disruptive technologies rather than simply making better products or services. They do this by analysing 'The Job to be Done' and finding a way to do this job that people want done rather than merely developing new products. So, for instance, Apple realised that many of us need full-time assistants to help us organise our lives … and invented the iPhone to do the job.

Speaking at Mobilism 2012 in May Dediu describes this process of asymmetric competition as …

finding new jobs to be done because you are studying the needs of the user not the needs of the market.

But he also explains how difficult it is for established organisations to behave disruptively. Their very DNA conspires to keep them doing the same thing and kills off any attempt at innovation. For instance, how does an organisation make the strategic decision to transfer resources from a successful product line that is delivering profits today to a new disruptive technology? But the right strategy is often to destroy value because doing so now is better than waiting for it to be destroyed later.

Now, I think it is necessary for those of us in Higher Eductation to consider what a disruptive intervention in the the sector might look like. Christensen addressed this in The Innovative University which I discussed this in my last post Why Pay for Education? At the moment I am merely attempting to frame the right questions rather than expecting to find immediate answers. But, it seems to me that in the changing and dynamic world we now inhabit where technologies change completely during a student's four years on a degree programme we must reconsider the job to be done by education. What is the Job to be Done for students, for industry and the professions, for nations and for the global economy of which we are so much a part?