Please: let´s skip the depression-phase – a third attempt post-covid

What if students don´t come back to Campus the upcoming years and prefer to meet each other at other places instead? What if teachers then lose their high level of energy? What even if managers themselves loses faith in the future? But then, here is a headache pill that could help us avoid all that.

The world of education no longer denies the idea of e-learning. There’s not even anger left around it. These two phases in Rosabeth Moss-Kanther’s ‘Five Stages of grief-model‘ now seem to be behind us. Instead, we now seem to be heading right at the third phase of the model: negotiating with the future. But what happens after that phase?

Three important things COVID definitely leave behind…

1. Students realizing that e-learning can be pretty ok, even great. 2. Faculty-meetings were it is not as easy as previously to claim that E-learning does not work. 3. The early adopters of E-learning not being called total odd-balls anymore.

From this autumn, we shall expect hybrid education to become the buzzword in both academia and the commercial education market. Many educational actors have already described it that way themselves. In the coming years, it will consist of a splash of one and a splash of the other, you might say. Otherwise, more or less business as usual.

-> Try a different structure instead – a second attempt, post-COVID

This is what now for many actors seems to be the big Post-COVID strategy.

If looking a little bit further than what just is infront of us at a certain moment in time, there can be light in the tunnel.

-> The first step to post COVID: offices, classrooms, Twitter

However, the fourth phase in this model is called, unfortunately, depression. That’s when an organization starts to feel resigned and risks losing momentum.

After all, everything has been tried, yet things are not going quite as planned. But there is still something missing, what?

The fifth phase in the model is called acceptance. That’s when you’re ready to rethink things basically, drop old basic assumptions, and then start moving on.

That’s what’s still missing when you get to the phase of depression.

An example of such a basic assumption in the educational world may be the notion of the unique value of the physical encounter and the deep interactive conversation that occur between an individual teacher and a large group of students – and that such meetings, previous COVID, also actually occurred on a relatively large scale. Another example of such an assumption might be that the value in keeping a campus in much the same way as today is currently high. A third example of such an assumption may be the notion that students have a strong desire to meet each other on campus, even if they are otherwise not there for any physical instruction.

-> The future campus: Disneyland, Woodstock, Soccer, or closed?

In retrospect, it is possible to describe what the record labels went through when the music industry was disrupted with the help of this model. First denial about the power of digitalization, then anger, and retaliation – that’s when, for example, record labels started chasing illegal file sharers all over the world.

The big mental mistake the video-chain Blockbuster did was to assume that their physical stores was important. That´s why they do not exist anymore.

The depressions-phase then set in shortly after the streaming services began to launch. That’s when record labels started to rethink one of the last basic assumptions, about continuing to own the customer entrance itself – the record store. They then began to give streaming services access to their own libraries – something they had never imagined doing before. Somewhere there, they finally started to get ready to rethink things fundamentally.

-> What really happened in the music industry.

Today, the music industry doesn’t look at all like it did in the ’90s.

But what else was there to do for record labels at the time? And why not hope for at least some income when physical record sales have almost hit rock bottom and the businesses were bleeding heavily? They could not, as an alternative, lay off all the employees they had, because what would have been left? In addition, so many attempts had already been made to shrink to success to the extent that there were not many employees left to even resign.

-> Agency’s: becoming one, not to use them

It´s not that well-known but in the early days of iTunes several record stores launched dowloading-services, in their physical shops.

Even Blockbusters launched a similar possibility, for videos, in their physical stores, around the same time as Netflix went for streaming.

How come this “negotiation-idea” did not work that well?

I have a good friend who created a startup around the time the streaming services started to develop. His business idea was aimed at helping record labels move forward, but with a slightly different idea than streaming. It was in many respects a very good business idea. Would probably work even if it was launched today. In addition, it was quite risk-free for the record companies to even try it on.

But the answer he got when he visited the record labels was that there was no idea. They had given up and no longer believed in a future themselves. He never got any business, so the company was shut down. He neither could afford waiting for them to get the point by his idea, nor had the patience. So, he went for another business instead – what talented people sometimes tend to do when they get stuck.

That’s what the depression step can look like, if you don’t watch out.

It is very difficult to just shrink a business to success.

Far better to rethink it.

If the students do not come back to Campus to the extent that many are currently hoping for post-COVID, there is probably a great risk that we will see the depression-phase in this model ahead of us in a few years. Good in that case, there is also a fifth step in this model to look forward to.

But would it not be nice if we could skip the depression-phase and instead already right now start to rethink this business?

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