Lean Business for Better Education

Here at BrainMatch, we believe that the traditional education system is broken. And like anything else that’s broken, there are really only two choices: repair or replace. Advocates who have spent their lives within the current system attempt to repair what’s wrong with it through incremental changes. Those of us outside the system can opt for something a bit more dramatic. At BrainMatch, we advocate a truly radical approach to education: entrepreneurship.

Students today grow up in an information-driven economy where their parents’ rules of ‘9-to-5’ don’t apply, and the idea that they are always going to work for someone else is a dangerous assumption that leaves them ill-prepared for the world they face. BrainMatch is built to help prepare students for the real world — not a 1950’s fantasy that ends after 40 years of employment with a pension and a gold watch.

Public education was established to ensure that the average person could be a productive member of society, starting with getting and keeping a job. Over time, what those jobs demand has changed, but the education system has remained stuck in an antiquated paradigm that resembles modern reality less and less. If an educated population must be employable, then shouldn’t business be directly involved in ensuring that students are learning what really matters in the modern economy?

At BrainMatch, we believe that the “Lean Startup” models of prototyping, feedback, and iteration can and should be applied to much more than just technology startups.

By posting real world business projects to BrainMatch, not only does a company get their project completed by eager, fresh talent, but they are also helping to set a new standard for educational excellence. No more antiquated ideas or theoretical models. How do real companies get real business done? Through an on-going process of feedback and iteration until the result matches what the customer really wants. That’s what BrainMatch is about.

Instead of wandering aimlessly through school, bouncing from major to major, students who use BrainMatch to gain real world work experience can quickly figure out if their fantasy major really is a fantasy or if it’s actually a nightmare — and they can do it while making money for school, rather than taking out thousands of dollars in student loans. We call this “lean education.”

BrainMatch believes that thanks to the democratization of technology and the proliferation of communications infrastructure, the 21st Century is the era of the entrepreneur. Our old way of educating students doesn’t prepare them for a fast-moving, digitally-driven, right-brained world. And ill-prepared students are bad for business.

There is a reason that, at BrainMatch, we call what we do a win-win-win. Anything less simply isn’t good enough.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wayne-Caswell/1113005314 Wayne Caswell

    Thanks for what you’re doing. It causes me to think about the purpose of the undergraduate degree, which gives employers a sense that candidates have the minimum required background, at least intellectually? But now that jobs don’t last a lifetime, that fewer employers invest in employee education, and that careers last just years, can we justify going back to school for new credentials each time we need a new job that requires new skills? Maybe we’re putting too much emphasis on the degree. Remember Bill Gates and Michael Dell?

    Rather than prepare workers for Corporate America, maybe we should encourage entrepreneurism. Could it be that Corporate America is against this since they would rather NOT compete with innovative start-ups?

    Check out “Beyond the PC: Paradigm Shifts and Implications for Job Seekers” (http://waynecaswell.com/BeyondThePC.htm). It’s a presentation I made at a local job club that includes data from a new study by Georgetown University on future in-demand jobs. The study says 43% of workers with a professional License or Certificate now make more money than those with Associates degrees and 27% make more than with a Bachelors degree. Trade schools and community colleges are often more closely aligned with local employment needs, so it should not be surprising that 31% of workers with an Associates also earn more than those with a Bachelors. This suggests that employers may value useful SKILLS more than general knowledge. The point is there’s lots of implications as we plan our own careers, and it’s why I highly endorse your work to connect entrepreneurs with young talent.

  • http://brainmatch.net Charles Andretta, II

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Wayne. I think you’re absolutely on point with your presentation.

    Education means different things to different people, but it’s primarily an economic catalyst — both at the individual level and at the larger societal level. Without taking the time to truly ask ourselves what exactly we’re “educating” 21st Century students to do/think/perform, we’re doing the entire global economy and future generations of students a grave disservice.

    In any other industry, if the end product wasn’t meeting the needs of its customers and was actually causing them additional pain, the market forces at work would obliterate it. The only reason the current model has survived for as long as it has is because of the state of our current legislation — but that same outdated legislation falls far shorter than it should, because it fails to account for how students learn best and who is best equipped to guide/inform them. It’s absurd to think that teachers who have no real world experience could ever effectively convey what’s required in the real world — Let alone, what a modern student needs to know in order to manage his/her career in an increasingly fluid and mobile (read, untethered) environment.

    Only students who have the opportunity to 1) discover and follow their passions, 2) try their hand at many different applications of their skills, and, if it comes down to it, 3) fail fast without the fear and stigma that’s normally associated with failure, while simultaneously learning how to work independently and collaboratively in a virtual environment will have what it takes to succeed in the future.

    Far too many truly talented and capable kids get lost in the shuffle because the system is failing them. Rather than wait for the system to fix itself (Care to hold your breath on that one?), these students need to be provided with an opportunity where they can empower themselves, learn new skills, and discover potential career paths that are individually meaningful and relevant to them. …And if they can do that while putting real cash in their pockets so that they don’t have end up with $30-50K in student loans at the end of it all, then so much the better.

    That’s why we’re doing this — Because, it borders on criminal not to when all of the pieces of the puzzle are laid out in front of us.