Why are so many schools talking about innovative business models?

At last week’s annual conference of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the hottest topic of conversation was business model innovations.

From microschools to the Mastery Transcript Consortium and beyond, schools and networks of schools are responding to the fact that the world we live in is fundamentally different than the one that produced our current school model.

For the last twenty years, digital networks and Moore’s Law have produced exponential, networked change in the global economy and community.

But schools were not designed for a networked age.  They were designed for the industrial age, to prepare students for factory-like jobs.  Sometimes those were literally factory jobs, and others times they were white collar roles designed according to the principles of industrial production.  (If you don’t know the name Frederick Taylor, you will be surprised to learn that “Taylorism” has massively influenced the design of modern life, including schools.)

The single best thing I have read on this dilemma is General Stanley McChrystal’s Team of Teams. His book inspired my PechaKucha talk at NAIS 2017, in which I called for schools to adopt a “basecamp mindset” to promote a culture of adaptive teaming.  The current school model, which has been largely unchanged for the past century, won’t keep our schools afloat.  Adaptive teaming, on the other hand, can allow schools to respond to even rapid changes in the world.

I could not be more excited that General McChrystal will visit Malvern Prep on Monday, April 3, as our next Distinguished Speaker.  Even better, he will be interviewed live by Adam Bryant, the NY Times journalist responsible for the ever-illuminating “Corner Office” interview series on executive leadership.

If you are in the Philadelphia area on April 3, I hope you will consider joining us.  (You can reserve tickets here.)

How might your school’s model evolve based on what you hear that night?




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