Ducere Blog
20
Jan
2014

Adapting to change: Negotiating a changing environment in the information age

The ability to adapt and embrace change is a trait that sets Ducere founder Mat Jacobson apart from his peers. With a background that started in law, then moved through industries such as sales, property development and academics, he is a man who knows how to take changes and turn them into opportunities.

Like his personal approach to life, Mat knows that businesses thrive when they embrace change. By meeting the competition head on and innovating to stay ahead, your business will stand out from its competitors.

When starting Ducere, Mat took into account the changing ways in which people learn, taking advantage of the shift to an online world and developing a strong online capability delivering access to some of the world’s best business leaders through the Ducere Global Leaders Faculty.

Mat wanted to share some of his tips for staying focused and succeeding during periods of change:

 

Information is power? What Information?

My organisation Ducere, was formed on the basis that knowledge is empowering, that it brings you choices you wouldn’t have otherwise. When it comes to business, and operating within a changing environment, this same principal applies.

Historically, information was exclusive, protected and highly valued. Today, any eight year-old with a smart phone has access to more information they could read in ten lifetimes. In a world of information commoditization, even the US military struggles to keep a tight lid on some of its most classified information. So now that we have moved past the challenge of accessing information, the more relevant questions today are: What information can I trust? How do I efficiently obtain the information I really need?

The education sector has had a similar transformation, only 50 years ago the first MBA program opened outside of the US. Today there are so many programs, with so many choices it is almost impossible to evaluate them. In fact there are so many evaluations using a variety of metrics, even these can be overwhelming. 

We approached the challenge of establishing a modern business school with a different perspective, one that presents multiple advantages. We decided to focus business and management programs, not on the historically important brand of the institution or on the tenure of academics. Instead we focused on attracting the most successful people in their field of business, leadership and management from all over the world, and built accredited programs outwards from the core of industry leadership. This had never been done before. Of course some excellent institutions like MIT and Harvard are renowned for having a Bill Gates or Jack Welch drop in. But these are guest lectures. Complete programs are not built outwards from a faculty of industry leadership.

The point here is around the trustworthiness of information. If one wants relevant information on digital branding, you may obtain this from a score of academics, some with some good credentials but none of them with a background of building a billion dollar digital company. This core of real world success drives a totally fresh approach to education, not just the information, but the style of information and the way it’s presented are all critically important.

Some of this may seem like common sense; it is common sense, but the practicality of the way we assess information is flawed. The first question that should be asked –whether reading an article, academic paper, course material, whatever– is, what is the authority of the author? If the author is not a trusted source, it’s not worth reading the first line.

 

MOOCS – Massive Access to information, but at what value?

In the education world, a transformation is seemingly at foot. This is known as MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. At face value, there is enormous value to the public in having freely available, professionally developed course materials. Universities are grappling with how MOOCs may re-invent tertiary institutions and the business model of course fees that universities rely upon. Some go as far as suggesting the end of traditional campus-based academic institutions. In this situation, access to information is seen as the catalyst to disrupt the traditional business model. However, the benefits of mere access to thousands of online articles is greatly exaggerated, even ill-informed?

Are MOOC’s really that new? In one sense easy access to tertiary content has been around for decades. Anyone can get a university library card, often free, and have access to a wealth of academic content. Yet how many people do you know over the last few decade, who have rocked up to a job interview saying, “my credentials? Oh yes, I read lots of articles in the local university library”. The answer of course is none. Simple access to information, even quality information, isn’t a solution for the consumer and is certainly not a business model for the provider. The real value of a university is in its accreditation, essentially an independent stamp of approval that someone has attained a certain knowledge level. Additionally a network of interaction, with peers and mentors is something MOOCs can’t offer but is a critical human element to knowledge transfer. For this core reason, in spite of the hype, MOOCs will be a marketing tool, not a transformational business model.

 

Too Much of a Good Thing

Too much of a good thing, in this case, accessing too much information, can in fact be a hindrance. Future business models will thrive, not like the past success of Google where a random search for a Diploma of Business provided 197,000 results, but intelligent models that precisely locate the right information tailored to the profile and needs of an individuals needs.

Access to information is of vital importance to ensure transparency of governments, institutions and agencies across the globe. In this sense freedom of information is a necessity. But freedom of information should not be confused with accessing relevant information that can move you forward, whether it be for job prospects or technical skills.

 

– Mat Jacobson.

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