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Don’t blame the market for failures

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

In 2006, kids were flocking to MySpace, so naturally, NBC News thought it could jump on the social media bandwagon to help improve education.

Epic failure.

NBC’s product, iCue, did not engage students, teachers or parents.

Researchers from MIT who helped with product development and conducted a postmortem came up with these causes for the failure.

They say iCue:

  1. Never figured out who it was marketing to: students or teachers.
  2. Tried to move too quickly into profitability.
  3. Strayed too far outside its area of expertise.
  4. Couldn’t crack the established delivery model for classroom education.
  5. Left too early. Incubation is important, and innovation requires lots of recalibration.

What’s perhaps most interesting is that the postmortem, while acknowledging all these things, tends to blame the marketplace. Its conclusion (“education is resistant to change from outside—even when that change reflects current real-world trends and is wielded by big companies”) seems blind to the fact that everybody is resistant to change until they see something better.

Takeaway: Don’t blame your customers, the economy or each other for a failure. Learn what you can and move on.

— Adapted from The More We Know, Eric Klopfer and Jason Haas, MIT Press.

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