Bridging a gap in the conversation around innovation – about the US education system with Doug Roberts

Bridging a gap in the conversation around innovation – about the US education system with Doug Roberts

"The relationships are much more important than the business"
44 Minuten


vor 8 Monaten
Doug Robers, who started out as a teacher, has worked in and with
the US education system in a wide variety of roles over the years.
Based on his accumulated experiences, he founded the Institute for
Education Innovation in 2018, which he still manages as CEO. In the
podcast “School must go on,” Doug Roberts talks about the unique
structures in the US education system, and the background and work
of the Institute for Education Innovation. – “We aim to bridge a
gap in the conversations around innovation” – Doug Roberts talks
about two different groups: On the one hand the district leaders
who are working hard to try to find the most creative and
innovative solution to problems, and on the other hand,
entrepreneurs and founders of organizations who are similarly
working to provide creative and innovative solutions to challenges.
“It can be hard for them to find each other, partially because our
process of buying and selling in K12 is somewhat antiquated”, Doug
explains. “So what if we create a robust and sort of level playing
field, democratized ecosystem where any company or nonprofit or
other organization, regardless of its size, experience, influence,
investor backing or not, can have access to districts that are
trying to solve the problem that they're working on.” It’s not
necessarily about doing business, Doug says, it’s about learning
what’s out there and then figuring out how you can improve what you
are currently doing. “Overall it’s a community of people who are
curious and engaged in trying to get better at what they do.” –
Building relationships instead of only doing business – “You can't
come to the Institute for Education Innovation and just think about
profit”, Doug explains. “What you want to think about is growing
your organization and growing your relationships.” The companies
that do best, he says, come in with a focus on listening, on
building relationships and on working the problem. “So, if you’re a
solution in search of a problem, that’s going to be tough. If you
know that there’s a problem and you're looking at the problem and
trying to provide a solution to it, our members will see that,
identify it and then try to work with you to figure out how you can
solve the problem on the ground in their place.” Doug observed that
in the end relationships are much more important than the business.
“But if you go and build the relationships and listen and take the
right approach, the business comes.” – The importance of
superintendents – “We do have a unique thing here in the fact that
our schools are governed by local boards of education who hire a
superintendent who then runs a school system”, Doug says. He thinks
the business acumen of these superintendents is not appreciated
enough. “They see all the different angles to work in a district.
They are running a hundreds-of-millions budget, and managing all
the complex operations with thousands of people reporting to them.
They have to be over these large bureaucracies, organizations and
civil servants and we all kind of know what a school looks like.”,
Doug emphasizes. “And it's the entrepreneurial aspect of
superintendent work that we try to help people understand that it
is a big part of their jobs.” So, the superintendent is the right
place to start the conversation, Doug Roberts says, but also the
hardest person to reach in the school district because of the
massive operations they have to run. “But anything that's kind of
enterprise level, you really need the district Leadership team on
board, and that's where we help.” Doug Roberts also talks about the
procurement and purchasing process, the current state of tech, and
past and future development.

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