What Can Education Learn From Business Failures?

Forbes Magazine published (December 5, 2011) an article by Scott Davis entitled “5 Brands Most Likely to be Gone by 2015”.  While schools might mimic businesses, they are not carbon copies.  But as Mr. Davis points out, “its worth analyzing and learning from the mistakes (of businesses) and learning so as to not repeat them.”

Failure # 1 – They don’t know what their customers want and as a result provide them with bad service that doesn’t meet customer’s needs.  (Examples: Netflix, the Post Office, Sears, Kodak)  Educational Lesson:  Involve internal and external customers in district decisions is critical.

Failure #2 – They not innovative and/or willing to change even though their competitors are.  (Examples: the Post Office, Kodak, RIM [Blackberry])  Educational Lesson:  If you are not willing to meet the needs of your customers (parents, children), somebody will (charter and magnet schools).

Failure #3 – They use outdated processes and thinking resulting in ineffective practices and financial issues. (Examples: Motorola, the Post Office, Kodak, RIM [Blackberry])  Educational Lesson: Because we believe the teaching and learning processes are correct, we blame the failure of education on people.  “If only we had better students, better parents, better teachers, etc….”)

Failure #4 – They don’t use technology to their benefit.  (Examples:  the Post Office, Kodak) Educational Lesson:  Technology is here to stay which can make schools more efficient.  But the problem is how to use them.  For example getting students to responsibly use smart phones or Ipads beats banning them.

All the business world and the education world are different, it doesn’t mean that we cannot profit from learning from their successes and failures.

Adapted from Emily Davis material.