On Building Something New

🎵 Robert Glasper feat. Taylor McFerrin and Derrick Hodge – Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box (Radiohead Cover)

Following best practice is the path of least resistance to building something new. But when the status quo is broken for so many people and organizations, it’s the path of most resistance that is required.

The recommended diet of stories from EdSurge and Educause, articles from the Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed, fundraising announcements from TechCrunch, and conference presentations from the professional associations, all feature the same usual suspects telling the same stories from the same perspectives that have created the situation we’re in today. Part of the beauty of building something new is that there isn’t a blueprint. The challenge today becomes finding inspiration to innovate in a world that rewards iteration and risk aversion.

This morning, I saw some posts I made on Y Combinator’s Hacker News back in 2009. It reminded me that it’s been 10 years since I started my career in tech – a decade that brought me from San Francisco to Boston, all the way back home to New Orleans. From three coasts I consulted over 400 universities in 40 countries, developing an understanding of our shared history and future that no single university could provide.

In exchange for this gift, the next decade of my career will be spent repaying universities by building a company the likes of which they haven’t seen, one designed to help them unlock their potential amidst uncertain futures. My next several articles will try to unpack this vision.

Sometimes, we have to look backwards in order to look forward. Stay tuned.

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