Trying to turn lemons into lemonade in class

Andrew McAfee, a professor at Harvard, makes some interesting points in a recent post to his blog.

In a telling, almost depressing coda to the post, Andrew says:

“I’ll end this post with an anecdote that showed me that these three trends* are not yet well understood by many business leaders.  Last week I was teaching in an executive education program for senior executives – owners and presidents of companies.  I assigned a case I wrote about the internal use of blogs at a bank, and also gave one additional bit of homework:  I pointed the participants to blogger and typepad, and told them to start their own blogs and report the blog’s URL to me.

What they reported instead was that they had no intention of completing the assignment.  They told me how busy they were, and how they had no time and no inclination to mess around with blogs (whatever they were).  Out of two classes of 50-60 participants each, I got fewer than 15 total blog URLs.

Trying to turn lemons into lemonade in class, I asked some of the people who actually had sent a URL to describe the experience of starting a blog.  They all shrugged and said it was no big deal, took about five minutes total, didn’t require any skills, etc.  I then asked why I would give busy executives such a silly, trivial assignment.  In both classes one smart student piped up to say “To show us exactly how trivial it was.”  At that point, class discussion became interesting.

[My emphases]

*The three “broad and converging trends” he refers to are:

  • Simple, free platforms for self-expression
  • Emergent structures rather than imposed ones
  • Order from chaos

Having spent time with Andrew, I know there’s a great deal of value in what he has to say. I’d strongly recommend reading his blog.

Let me know what you think

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.