(e)Learning to Strike when the Iron is Hot!


Why do I have a picture of Steve Jobs in this article? I imagine his principles run through the backbone of this article, and his story provides a fitting end 🙂 Read on to find out why?

Barriers to the eLearning Business

What is the greatest barrier facing the world of eLearning today? It is” ‘Not learning to strike when the iron is hot”! Full Stop!

Today our dream strategic partners and clients are busier than one can ever imagine. If yesterday they were employing a 100 resources and 10 times the money to get a job done, today they may be using 10 resources and 1/10th of the financial investment to achieve the same or even greater level of output and efficiency. They are absolutely short of even a moment to waste on an eLearning product that is incapable of creating value.

That dream strategic partner or that dream client or that dream company we can only be dreaming of doing business with, may be actually sitting on an endless pile of cash. But who told us that they are going to part with it, unless we are going to put forth something that produces spectacularly outstanding results? Unless we are going to put on their table a substantial and farsighted strategic advantage!

For all we know, repetitive and rippling tides of recession and the resultant riveting attention on risk management, have resulted in more and more eLearning companies buying into our little eLearning story, only when they reach a consensus. And who knows it better than you and me, as to how hard it is to reach a consensus? We can feel it in our gut, it feels so hard to achieve that many of us no longer bother even trying. Unless its a dire situation of burnt bridges , nobody feels innately compelled to push for change ( Until Apple and Adobe both backed away from supporting Flash, people weren’t compelled to adopt HTM5. It is only after this event that HTML5 has become the order of the day, more than just a nice-to-have accessory up-our-sleeves).

Hidden Opportunity

I am not claiming that we cannot create value within our little eLearning products. Neither am I declaring that opportunities do not exist for each one of us, around us. What I’m saying is that there are far greater opportunities today than what existed in our collective human imagination ever before. In 5 years from today, the world economy will break way past the $100 trillion mark, and it may even kiss a good $10 trillion over and above. And somewhere amid that figure, there will be a happy number of dollars on your education story and an equally happy number of dollars on mine. This is my promise to you.

What Has Been Happening So Far?

So far we have been brainwashed to stop making cold calls to our eLearning clients. It has been hammered into our brains that our client picking up a phone call, no longer guarantees any magic. And we have blindly downed this information in every bit of our being. We have allowed these external messages to prey on our deepest of fears and weaknesses.

We have been told that client generation or business generation is somebody else’s responsibility, for so long that we are unable to see the bigger picture from any other greater perspective. Now we end up spending all our time debating on who is responsible for the existing quality of our eLearning products, instead of working on the quality of experience we deliver to our interim clients and end-clients, or our internal clients and external clients, from wherever we fit in this tremendous buying cycle.

There are also a lot of us who have come to believe that social media is our new magic wand. But too much social media and no quality action or production will take us no where. On the other hand, in today’s digital jungle, we can also find those who totally side-track and ignore social media (What’s the disadvantage of that? Well, personally I find that kind of side-tracking like setting one-self off a ticking time-bomb, unless one has grown very old or is considering other goals in life!)

Then there are scenarios where there is less focus on activity and a much more magnified focus on outcomes (This works spectacularly for me unless we have fallen off the precipice of low activity. Because no worthwhile outcomes can spring out of inactivity.) Again, we might want to zero in on the appropriate activities in a given context, and we might want to focus even more on how effectively and efficiently we carry out these activities.

In reality, what we seem to be doing these days, is engaging in a rate race to own our eLearning projects, instead of owning up for the business outcomes and the educational value outcomes of our eLearning projects that got released as educational products in the market. Sometimes we don’t even have the guts to own up the right outcomes. How many of us research the success of our the eLearning product that we conceptualized and manifested and released in the live market? How many of us check the viability of our product in a live environment? How many of us check if our products got used, how long they got used, or whether they got shelved? And how many of us are only interested in payments from the clients or our individual monthly salaries? [Yes. You are bang on!!]

Conclusion

There may be innumerable causes why we don’t learn from the mistakes we made in eLearning products from the past, or in why we don’t strike when the iron is hot?

But let me look at the future through this story:

Today I watched this movie, “Jobs”. Yes! Steve Paul Jobs! The Man behind Apple Computers. At one point of time in the movie, Apple Computers reaches its all-time low, making the kind of losses it never made in its entire history under the leadership of Steve Jobs! What happened? They threw Steve Jobs, and someone else was handed the baton in the interim, for a few years. Then Steve Jobs returns. The company begins to profit again, until in September 2012, Apple Computers, becomes the most valuable company that ever existed on this planet. What did Steve Jobs do? All I could conclude from the life-story of Steve Jobs is that, he had some kind of a live and running internal list of common activities aped under the herd mentality that reigned all of his competitors in the business (fellow IT giants competing in selling the same products as Apple Computers). Steve Jobs on the other hand, according to me, just had one very easy and simple rule! He just made sure that he kept reversing this entire running list of common activities, for as long as he was alive! And he kept using this reversed list as a starting point of his every innovation.

Reverse psychology anyone? (We might want to think about it!)

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