Sayonara Sony: How industrial, MBA-style leadership killed a once great company — from by Adam Hartung


Who can forget what a great company Sony was, and the enormous impact it had on our lives?  With its heritage, it is hard to believe that Sony hasn’t made a profit in 4 consecutive years, just recently announced it will double its expected loss for this year to $6.4 billion, has only 15% of its capital left as equity (debt/equity ration of 5.67x) and is only worth 1/4 of its value 10 years ago!


From DSC:
Blockbuster, Kodak, and now Sony — and I’m sure there are countless others who have moved in and out of prosperous times — but those three come instantly to my mind as more recent examples of The Innovator’s Dilemna — which strikes again!

It reminds me of a Steve Jobs’ quote (and I’ll use the item found at

One of Jobs’ business rules was to never be afraid of cannibalizing yourself. “If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will,” he said. So even though an iPhone might cannibalize the sales of an iPod, or an iPad might cannibalize the sales of a laptop, that did not deter him.


Addendum (with emphasis from DSC):
Another thought comes from Guy Kawasaki’s talk at TEDxHarkerSchool entitled, “The 12 Lessons I Learned from Steve Jobs”

  • You need to jump to the next curve — don’t duke it out w/ others on the current curve (DSC: Like from the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull...don’t fight it out on the beach with the other seagulls. Instead, learn how to fly. <– that’s been my prayer, LORD teach me how to fly.)
  • Customers cannot tell you what they need  — they can only describe things in terms of what they already have; bigger, faster, cheaper, status quo
  • Challenging your mind is a sign of intelligence  (DSC: Reinvent, staying relevant, be able to completely reverse a viewpoint, cannibalizing own business)
  • “Experts” are clueless
  • The biggest challenges beget the best work
  • Design counts
  • Use big graphics and big fonts
  • Value does not equal price




Rethinking higher education business models — from by Robert Sheets, Stephen Crawford, Louis Soares


The theory ofdisruptive innovation—the notion that certain innovation can improve a product or service in such a way that it creates new markets that displace existing ones—was developed and advanced by Christensen in the 1990s. According to Christensen, who has studied the evolution of many industries, disruptive innovation occurs when sophisticated technologies are used to create more simplified and more accessible solutions to customers’ problems—solutions that are often less high performing than previous technologies but whose price and convenience attract whole new categories of consumers. The first generations of transistor radios, desktop computers, and MP3 players are examples. These new solutions—innovations to existing technologies deployed through new business models—gradually improved to the point where they displaced the previously dominant solutions. Christensen’s key point, however, is that new technologies like these cannot achieve their transformative potential without compatible changes in their industry’s business models and value networks, which in turn may require shifts in the standards and regulatory environment.

From DSC:
Given the current rumblings of massive changes that are about to take place (if they haven’t already) within the higher education landscape, each person within higher education that has key strategic and leadership responsibilities should be required to read the two books mentioned below. I assert this because these world-class researchers and authors have discovered and documented phenomenon that is affecting all of higher education at this point in time. Understanding the concepts in these books will help your college or university not only survive — but thrive — in the future.

  • The Innovator’s Dilemma — by Clayton M. Christensen
    Clayton M. Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Christensen is also co-founder of Innosight, a management consultancy; Rose Park Advisors, an investment firm; and Innosight Institute, a non-profit think tank. He is the author or coauthor of five books including the New York Times bestsellers The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution and most recently, Disrupting Class.
  • Disrupting class, expanded edition: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns — by Clayton Christensen, Curtis W. Johnson, Michael B. Horn.



From DSC:
That article reminds me of a posting on my archived site from 4/11/09:

Let’s reallocate funds towards course development, and then let’s leverage those learning materials throughout the world!


Reallocate funds to course development, and bring costs WAAAAYYYY down and ACCESS WAAAYYY  UP!

For students: Bring costs waaaayyyyy down and access waaayyy up!
Plus, no more defaulted loans, students could experience richer content, students wouldn’t have to wait as much on financial aid decisions. There would be fewer financial aid headaches; and the resources devoted to figuring out & processing financial aid could be reduced. The issue will be how an institution can differentiate itself in such a new world…but that issue will have to be dealt with in the future anyway.

Why cloud computing is expanding the powers of Big Data analysis — from by Dan Smith



According to Werner Vogels,’s chief technology officer, data analysis — specifically “Big Data” analysis — is the backbone of modern business. Without it, your survival chances are limited and, with the growth of cloud computing it’s becoming easier than ever for startups and SMEs. “There’s a shift going on,” Vogels says. “Five or ten years ago, when thinking about data analysis, you would think about the biggest companies in the world. Today, there’s not a new business not thinking about data analysis.”

Also see:


Some items re: the future of work




How did the robot end up with my job? — from the New York Times by Thomas Friedman


In the last decade, we have gone from a connected world (thanks to the end of the cold war, globalization and the Internet) to a hyperconnected world (thanks to those same forces expanding even faster). And it matters. The connected world was a challenge to blue-collar workers in the industrialized West. They had to compete with a bigger pool of cheap labor. The hyperconnected world is now a challenge to white-collar workers. They have to compete with a bigger pool of cheap geniuses — some of whom are people and some are now robots, microchips and software-guided machines.

The proper term, says Lamy, is “made in the world.” More products are designed everywhere, made everywhere and sold everywhere.

The term “outsourcing” is also out of date. There is no more “out” anymore. Firms can and will seek the best leaders and talent to achieve their goals anywhere in the world.


Robots mania — from
Each year robots are getting more sophisticated and entertaining than ever before. Check out these captivating robots that can do almost anything — from reciting Shakespeare to serving shaved ice cream with a smile.


From Daniel Christian: Fasten your seatbelts! An accelerated ride through some ed-tech landscapes.

From DSC:
Immediately below is a presentation that I did for the Title II Conference at Calvin College back on August 11, 2011
It is aimed at K-12 audiences.


Daniel S. Christian presentation -- Fasten your seatbelts! An accelerated ride through some ed-tech landscapes (for a K-12 audience)


From DSC:
Immediately below is a presentation that I did today for the Calvin College Fall 2011 Conference.
It is aimed at higher education audiences.


 Daniel S. Christian presentation -- Fasten your seatbelts! An accelerated ride through some ed-tech landscapes (for a higher ed audience)


Note from DSC:

There is a great deal of overlap here, as many of the same technologies are (or will be) hitting the K-12 and higher ed spaces at the same time. However, there are some differences in the two presentations and what I stressed depended upon my audience.

Pending time, I may put some audio to accompany these presentations so that folks can hear a bit more about what I was trying to relay within these two presentations.

Tagged with:  

BlackBerry’s blues continue as platform falls to third place – from by Todd Wasserman


It’s another humiliating day for Research In Motion. The company’s BlackBerry, which once owned 55% of the smartphone market, has now fallen to third place with less than a quarter share, according to comScore.

To make matters worse, BlackBerry’s share seems to be falling pretty quickly. In February, RIM was number two in the market with 28.9%, based on an average of the previous three months. By May, RIM’s share had dropped 4.2% to 24.7%, behind Apple’s iOS with 26.6% and Google’s Android platform with 38.1%.


From DSC:
RIM did not innovate fast enough. They did not reinvent themselves as Apple has done, and now they are paying the price. The hurt has set in. This is a good reminder to all of us to constantly be reinventing our organizations and ourselves.


From DSC:
A reflection on:

Excerpt (with emphasis from DSC):

The secret to visionary companies’ continued success was explained best what NHL great Wayne Gretzky stated: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” What Apple and Facebook know and more specifically their founders/CEOs’ Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have in common is aspirational clarity. They appear to be able to see where the puck will be and into the future of what their market will not just want, but go ga-ga over and then they deliver it. Some may refer to that as their being market makers, but what enables them to make their market is that they can anticipate what will delight their customers and members that those people don’t even know will delight them.

From DSC:
This is why futuring, taking pulse checks on current trends, being in touch with your customers’ expectations (and future customers in the case of students), and scenario building are so important these days.

With the pace of technological change continuing to pick up, a healthy organization will constantly be looking to maintain its relevancy — to innnovate, to reinvent itself.

If you are not constantly reinventing yourself — as an individual or more collectively as an organization — your chances of staying relevant and marketable will likely decrease in the future.


We need to constantly be monitoring trends


Image by Daniel Christian



A technology broadside against school leadership preparation programs — from by Scott McLeod


If every other information-oriented societal sector is finding that transformative reinvention is the cost of survival in our current climate, schools and universities shouldn’t expect that they somehow will be immune from the same changes that are radically altering their institutional peers. We shouldn’t pretend that these revolutions aren’t going to affect us too, in compelling and often as yet unknown ways. And, yet, for some reason we do.

As long-existing barriers to learning, communicating, and collaborating disappear – and as what it means to be a productive learner, citizen, and employee shifts dramatically – it’s worth asking how we as educational leadership faculty and programs are responding. Are we doing what we should? To date the evidence is pretty clear that most of us are not.

Can we as educational leadership faculty do better? Given the scale and scope of the transformations occurring around us – and their power and potential for student learning – we MUST do better. It’s embarrassing to consider how little we’ve done to stay relevant. A learning revolution has occurred and – given the attention we’ve paid it – it’s as if many of us didn’t care.


From DSC — also see:


Frustrated Educators Aim to Build Grassroots Movement


Surging college costs price out middle class -- from on June 13, 2011



NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — What do you get when college costs skyrocket but incomes barely budge? Yet another blow to the middle class.

“As the out-of-pocket costs of a college education go up faster than incomes, it’s pricing low and medium income families out of a college education,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of financial aid sites and

The numbers confirm what most middle class families already know — college is becoming so expensive, it’s starting to hold them back.

Borders lacks bidder for chain, sources say — Detroit Free Press

Borders Group, the bookstore operator looking to reorganize in bankruptcy, has so far failed to find a bidder for the entire chain, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Also see:



Higher education’s toughest test — from by Jon Bischke and Semil Shah

In the debate sparked by Peter Thiel’s “20 Under 20 Fellowship” (which pays bright students to drop out of college), one fact stands out: the cost of U.S. post-secondary education is spiraling upward, out of control. Thiel calls this a “bubble,” similar to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, where hopeful property owners over-leveraged themselves to lay claim to a coveted piece of the American dream: home ownership.

Today, however, the credentialing provided by universities is becoming decoupled from the knowledge and skills acquired by students. The cost of obtaining learning materials is falling, with OpenCourseWare resources from MIT and iTunes U leading the charge. Classes can be taken online on sites like Udemy and eduFire, either for free or a fraction of the cost to learn similar material at a university, and sites like Veri, which recently launched at TechStars NYC Demo Day, aims to organize and spread one’s accumulated knowledge.

The fresh cadavers from the shakeouts in the music and publishing industries should provide motivation to presidents, chancellors, and provosts to look seriously at this problem, as many of the same dynamics that disrupted those industries are now at play in higher education. As students around the world start preparing for their year-end exams, it will be interesting to see how seriously leaders of universities prepare for one of the toughest tests that they’ll ever face.


From DSC:
I have been trying to get these trends/warnings/messages across to others for years — more people are starting to raise the same red flags on some of these same topics as well.

There is great danger in the status quo these days. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a firm believer in education, especially liberal arts education. But the traditional model is simply not sustainable it continually shuts more people out of the system and/or puts such a burden on students’ backs as to significantly influence — if not downright limit — their future options and experiences.

But as the saying goes, “Change is optional — survival is not mandatory.”




A hugely powerful vision: A potent addition to our learning ecosystems of the future


Daniel Christian:
A Vision of Our Future Learning Ecosystems

In the near future, as the computer, the television, the telephone (and more) continues to converge, we will most likely enjoy even more powerful capabilities to conveniently create and share our content as well as participate in a global learning ecosystem — whether that be from within our homes and/or from within our schools, colleges, universities and businesses throughout the world.

We will be teachers and students at the same time — even within the same hour — with online-based learning exchanges taking place all over the virtual and physical world.  Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) — in the form of online-based tutors, instructors, teachers, and professors — will be available on demand. Even more powerful/accurate/helpful learning engines will be involved behind the scenes in delivering up personalized, customized learning — available 24x7x365.  Cloud-based learner profiles may enter the equation as well.

The chances for creativity,  innovation, and entrepreneurship that are coming will be mind-blowing! What employers will be looking for — and where they can look for it — may change as well.

What we know today as the “television” will most likely play a significant role in this learning ecosystem of the future. But it won’t be like the TV we’ve come to know. It will be much more interactive and will be aware of who is using it — and what that person is interested in learning about. Technologies/applications like Apple’s AirPlay will become more standard, allowing a person to move from device to device without missing a  beat. Transmedia storytellers will thrive in this environment!

Much of the professionally done content will be created by teams of specialists, including the publishers of educational content, and the in-house teams of specialists within colleges, universities, and corporations around the globe. Perhaps consortiums of colleges/universities will each contribute some of the content — more readily accepting previous coursework that was delivered via their consortium’s membership.

An additional thought regarding higher education and K-12 and their Smart Classrooms/Spaces:
For input devices…
The “chalkboards” of the future may be transparent, or they may be on top of a drawing board-sized table or they may be tablet-based. But whatever form they take and whatever is displayed upon them, the ability to annotate will be there; with the resulting graphics saved and instantly distributed. (Eventually, we may get to voice-controlled Smart Classrooms, but we have a ways to go in that area…)

Below are some of the graphics that capture a bit of what I’m seeing in my mind…and in our futures.

Alternatively available as a PowerPoint Presentation (audio forthcoming in a future version)














— from Daniel S. Christian | April 2011

See also:

Addendum on 4-14-11:


Tagged with:  

From DSC:
The first article/item I want to comment on is:

A Potential Market for Courseware Developers — from by Richard Nantel

First of all, thanks Richard for tackling this subject and for putting a posting out there regarding it. For years, I’ve wondered what the best way(s) is(are) to pursue the creation of professionally-done, interactive, personalized/customized, multimedia-based, engaging content. It is expensive to create well-done materials and/or the learning engines behind these materials. Also, as at the faith-based college where I work, some colleges would want a very specific kind of content or take a different slant on presenting the content.  So the content would have to be modified — which would have an associated cost to it.

Some options that I’ve thought of:

  • Outsource the content creation to a team of specialists — at educationally-focused publishing companies out there
  • Outsource the content creation to a team of specialists — at other solution providers focused on education
  • Develop the content in-house with a team of specialists
  • Don’t create content at all, but rather steer people to the streams of content that are already flowing out there. Some content may be changing so fast that it may not be worth the expense to create it.
  • Have students create the content — that’s what school becomes. Learning enough to create/teach the content to others. (This would require a great deal of cross-disciplinary collaboration and cooperation amongst faculty members.)

As a relevant aside, I have held that if an organization could raise the capital and the teams to develop this type of engaging, professionally-done content — and scale the solution — they could become the Forthcoming Walmart of Education. The attractive piece of this for families/students out there would be that this type of education will come at a 50%+ discount.

The second article/item that caused some additional reflection here was the article at The Chronicle of Higher Education by Marc Parry entitled, Think You’ll Make Big Bucks in Online Ed? Not So Fast, Experts Say

What if the United States could reallocate even the cost of 1-2 high-end planes in the United States Air Force? Our nation could create stunning, engaging content that could reach millions of people on any given subject — as online learning has the potential to be highly scalable (though I realize that much of this depends upon how much involvement an organization wants to integrate into the delivery/teaching of this content in terms of their instructors’/professors’ time).

Anyway, Marc highlights some important points — that creating content, marketing that content, etc. can be expensive.

But I have it that if you don’t get into this online learning game, you won’t be relevant in the years to come. People want convenience and students’ expectations will continue to rise — wanting to learn on their own pace, per their own schedule, from any place and on any device; finally, they will want to have more opportunities to participate/collaborate/control their own learning experiences. (And this doesn’t even touch upon whether it will become even more difficult to get through “the gate”  — that is, getting the student’s attention in order to make it into their short-term memory, in hopes of then moving the lesson/information into long-term memory.)

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