Interesting Reads (and a Listen) This Week

Think Different

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What you see is what you get isn’t an entirely accurate statement. Often what you get is in large part determined first by how you think about things. This week, many of the interesting things I read were, in one way or another, about thinking in a different way.

Will we ever catch up with Paul LeBlanc?

But first, the big news this week for the EdTech world was that Paul LeBlanc, the President of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), will soon be stepping down. Over the course of two decades, Paul grew SNHU from an institution with 2,500 students to what is now the largest in the country and an online powerhouse with 225,000 students. But more broadly he changed the way higher education thinks about and provides online learning. Five years from now, we will likely still be trying to catch up to Paul, and it’s worth resharing the chart from Phil’s recent post on 12-month enrollments.

I know that Paul isn’t stepping away from higher education entirely, but we wish him all the best in his next adventure and look forward to having him continue to expand our horizons and challenge our established ways of doing things.

The art of action

There is a great piece from McKinsey that has been doing the rounds the last couple of weeks. Of course, I was going to love this one because I am a sucker for a great chart, and this article includes an awesome example.  

The article tells the story of Daniel McCallum’s 1854 organizational design for the New York and Erie Railroad. His org chart resembles a tree rather than the typical pyramid to which we are accustomed, and it was designed to deal with the problem of information flows.

The railroad was awash in real time data, but the problem was acting on that data. Instead of mapping power and chains of command as they existed, McCallum tried to show that authority to act should be pushed down to the people who had access to the data as it came in. These were the division heads, who, if given the proper authority, were in the best position to take timely action based on the data, thus averting and correcting the many SNAFU’s that afflicted the railway.

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