This is What Disruption Sounds Like

What do CDs, laptop computers and 4-year universities have in common?  They all are being disrupted.

Disruptive innovation is a term coined by Clayton Christensen, which describes the process in which a simple application that appears (and are initially dismissed) at the bottom of a market consistently moves up market until they eventually displaces the established companies.

The challenge for the company or industry being disrupted is that they often don’t notice the disruption happening or (even worse) they notice it but don’t feel capable of stopping it.

The announcement this week of Richard C. Levin, former president of Yale University becoming the CEO of Coursera, an online provider of academic courses  (or MOOC) should have sounded like “glass breaking” to major universities across the world but it was mostly ignored.

Once graduates of MOOCs start landing jobs based on courses completed online the disruption will be complete.  I’m pretty sure Mr. Levin knows exactly what is needed to take Coursera to the next level.  The question is, did 4-year universities hear the glass breaking?


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