Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Adapt: Is there evolution in business?

For me the answer is a definitive yes. The more I apply evolutionary principles in thinking about business the more I see it fits and the more I feel I understand business. It's why I like capitalism. It's a very harsh approach, which I don't like, but then is'n't natural selection. Natural selection is about competing for energy and essential nutrients, capitalism is about competing for money and resources that help you get more money. So capitalism is a harsh game but it's important to understand it before you can learn how to thrive in it. If you can do that then maybe you can do some good.

This morning I heard Tim Harford talking about his book Adapt on the science weekly podcast titled how to achieve success through failure. In his book he applies these evolutionary principles and shows how well they can explain what we see in business. Through history and across continents the analysis stacks up. Now I haven't read the book yet, it's on my wish list, but I've been viewing business through evolutionary eyes for so long I feel I know what it will cover.

I wanted to show that it's not just me noticing evolution everywhere and feeling that this insight could help me survive in the world. I think it's why the silicon valley model works so well and it's what I do. I don't worry about anything I do being a perfect fit. I worry about adaptability and flexibility. A perfect product one year is often a flop or waste the next. The best products are those that can adapt enough to be relevant no matter the fashion.

Essentially, as Darwin summarised. It's not the best adapted that survive, but those best able to adapt.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Learning on demand (LOD)

Following on from a previous article on 21st century learning I feel we're moving to an area where learning on demand will be as normal as Video on demand (VOD).

I see the emergence of 24-7 tutorials and motuto as early attempts at this. I can't vouch for the quality and economic viability yet but I do see that the learning market is biased towards young people. All infrastructure and policy focuses on this demographic.

New technologies make it  targetting the wider market financially viable. There is also a serious lack of supply compared to demand. Yet education budgets around the world are dwindling putting pressure on jobs.

This recipe implies to me that cloud based LOD services could meet this extra demand while at the same time saving the teachers under threat of redundancy. These teachers could either join the LOD services directly, or their schools and institutions could partner with the service to bring in additional paid work to meet the staff resources they have.

This scenario means teachers keep their jobs. Schools get to expand without increasing fixed running costs like building new classrooms and education grows as a sector to meet the growing demand.

It's a nice dream anyway. It's probably a few years early now but, from what I'm hearing across the web, there's a lot of work going into initiatives like this and there's a huge demand. Particularly internationally. So long term I think it will be a success. Just how it will evolve is yet to be determined.