Blue Ocean strategy!! Golly gosh, how interesting! This strategy used in the world of business has been the topic of my recent reading, aligned to certain New Zealand businesses and what makes them successful. The narrative of Kim Crawford wines is intriguing, especially when you consider where and how they started out. What is it that enables some businesses to flourish and succeed and others to become an “also ran”? A big message for myself from the KCW case is the importance of developing relationships, this is of course vital in the world of education. However interestingly in our world we tend to hide behind the need to be collegial and have positive working relationships and shy away from relationships that are based upon honesty. As per the work of Argyis and Schon, these are called model 2 or open to learning relationships.
I have thought a lot recently about why the world of education holds on so tightly to maintaining stability within its infrastructure. In my discussion with colleagues I believe the following 4 variables have a lot to do with this. Firstly, in schools the product is not a commodity and the business model is not about making money; whatever happens affects other peoples’ children and there is a subsequent hesitation to experiment with something so precious. Secondly, those who enter the teaching profession do seem to be cautious and risk-adverse by their very nature; perhaps this is an outcome of the nineties where accountability and measurable outcomes reigned. Thirdly, schools are responsive to the communities they serve and within those communities are literally hundreds of personnel who have all experienced over 15,000 hours of compulsory education themselves. The result of this is that there are many “experts” within the industry, and many who would prefer things to stay the same. The statement “my schooling never did any harm, so why would you want something different” is a shared value within many parent-led bodies. Finally schools have been around in their current form for quite a while and this concept of isomorphism that we have recently learned of is alive and well within education. Coercive isomorphism occurs when there is control from a central force, as there is from central government. Schools are expected to deliver that which the ministry deems to be important and the push becomes one of stability rather than innovation.
It is interesting to me, as the new world is reliant on the development of employees with the right sort of skills and dispositions, yet our education system is caught in a paradigm where traditional skills and qualifications are the mark of success. What a paradox!!