Previous post: An Entrepreneur in Education

I finally did it! I resigned from my coaching position from Education Queensland where I have been teaching for almost 10 years. In four weeks I’ll take the next step in my entrepreneurial journey and start as Customer Success Manager for Adepto, a global startup emanating from Brisbane with offices in Melbourne and London.

“Customer Success Management is the proactive orchestration of the customer’s journey toward their ever-evolving Desired Outcome”, Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success: The Definitive Guide 2017

I feel exhilarated knowing I will be able to capitalise on the skills and mindset I have been cultivating as an “intrapreneur” (see previous post). I also feel a bit trepid moving out of the safety of Education and into the riskiness of the startup world. I’ve been tested with the reality of missing out on my long service leave by six months, but that’s what being an entrepreneur is about – taking calculated risks and going with your gut as well as your head. If I don’t jump now, I could wake up one day having taken the blue pill, trapped in school land.

In my new role, I’ll be asking customers what success looks like for them, co-creating that success, and regularly iterating our approach based on metrics and feedback. This isn’t dissimilar to working as a teacher and coach where I’ve collaborated with students and staff to achieve the best possible outcomes for students. But if I’m honest, although I’ve fought against the dominant model, I have mostly told students what their success looks like through grades and summative assessment rather than co-designing their learning experience and providing formative assessment and regular feedback.

Interestingly, the customer in schools isn’t students–it’s parents–and parents often don’t  know what success means for their child. We all have a perception of what school and education should look like based on our own experience. Unfortunately, for most of us this experience was in a system that has not changed enough to keep up with the exponential developments in society, technology and culture. Students are the end users of a machine that is ostensibly the same as it was when it was invented, and the customers/parents are mostly removed from the experience. Generally, parents don’t know any better and neither do students–and neither do a lot of educators, having been educated in the same system they are now working in.

The machine is designed to perpetuate itself, and the massive trust placed in schools to ensure the education and safety of young people means that “risks” are almost always mitigated or entirely avoided. This moral imperative has been bolstered by the threat of litigation, so the reluctance to doing things differently in case we “break” children means the disruption necessary to make education relevant in the 21st century is unlikely to come from within.

However, I argue that the risk of not doing things differently is far greater than the risk of trying new things. In “good” schools we have students quietly and politely disengaged; in “challenging” schools, students exhibit all types of negative behaviour. In all schools, mental health issues are rife and growing, and I would argue this is in part because students are forced to come to a place for six hours a day, five days a week, which is disconnected from their reality. Social media and digital collaboration tools like Google Docs and Trello are blocked in most schools, so even if teachers know how to teach these effectively, they are unable to. Although they might not know what needs to change, students know something is not right and this is highly confusing for them.

Frustratingly, teachers and students often don’t seem to want to change. One of the main precursors to change is a sense of urgency, but when a young person’s outcomes from school aren’t known until well after they leave Year 12 (and it’s very rare that schools follow up with their graduates) and despite the obvious exponential shifts in society and the world of work, there isn’t any immediate reason for schools or teachers to change their practice.

The great irony of schools is that they are supposed to be places of learning but they are actually places of education. My aim with my learning journey platform BreakthrU (or Tiger Wings as it has been newly named by my mate Josh), is to decouple learning and education and give the agency, enjoyment, and skill of learning back to young people.

Education – “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction”

Learning – “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught”

While Breakthru/Tiger Wings will probably need to take a back seat for a bit while I transition to my new role, my passion to disrupt learning isn’t going anywhere and this part of my entrepreneurial journey will definitely continue.

As Customer Success Manager for Adepto, I’ll be able to use my existing skills to educate customers about the product and develop skills I’ve been working on in design thinking, agile and project management. I’ll also have to learn a whole range of new skills including onboarding and customer relationship management. And learning is what success looks like for me.

So I’m excited to take my next steps from intrapreneur to entrepreneur and am looking forward to working with customers who want to change how they work and colleagues who want to change the way the world works.

This blog was first published at https://medium.com/@rhyscass

 

Featured Image via Adobe Stock

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