(2019-08-01) A Closure Highlights The Challenges Of Adopting A Disruptive Strategy

Christensen Institute: A closure highlights the challenges of adopting a disruptive strategy. In early 2017, we wrote about the potentially disruptive trajectory of Level, a bootcamp built by Northeastern University

while the bootcamp business is booming, Northeastern recently announced that it is shuttering Level.

Northeastern initially built Level as part of an effort to “future-proof” the university. The university’s leadership was eager to get into the booming lifelong learning market.

Even though the bootcamp market has only picked up steam since then, Level isn’t the only bootcamp to close

The bootcamp space is becoming more competitive and the stronger players remaining seem to be pursuing one of two strategies: working directly with employers or partnering with universities. Both of these strategies lower costs because they take bootcamps out of the dog-eat-dog direct competition for students.

Incumbents face a dilemma in reacting to disruption. Their own existing business models routinely reject Disruptive Innovations because they don’t match the profit formulas and value propositions that helped the organization prosper in the first place.

We anticipated the hurdles Level might face, given similar dynamics in the early days of disruption in the steel market decades before:

the question is not whether the bootcamp market is viable, but who will be able to dominate it.

Bootcamps do have disruptive potential and there are multiple promising paths to scale

Critical to these bootcamps’ success, however, is their ability to pursue a business model that bucks traditional higher education’s entrenched—and broken—one.


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