“Innovation happens through collaboration. In order for great things to happen, people, need to interact.”

– Tom Brown, co-founder of IDEO

One day, Andrew Grove, co-founder of Intel, called Clayton Christensen, a well-known Harvard Business School Professor, out of the blue and asked him to come in to present his theory of the Innovator’s Dilemma and its impact on Intel. Upon arrival, Grove told Christensen he had 10 minutes to explain the theory’s impact on Intel. Overwhelmed by the little time, Christensen decided to just explain his theory. Within minutes the fast-paced mind of Andy Grove had grasped its implications for Intel’s future. Christensen was astonished by this incident and made an important observation on his teaching style. It was not important to focus on what the problem is but rather providing a theory that explains how one can look at the problem. He had little to no expertise in the market of microprocessors, and if he’d even so much as tried to tell Andy Grove what it means for his business, he would have failed. Instead, he shared his theory, which provided the lens for Grove to look at a problem.

This story beautifully shows the power of collaboration and peer-to-peer teaching. Andy Grove & Clayton Christensen, even though they are experts in their respective fields, could not have solved the problem themselves but together found a new approach. This philosophy is at the core of Impact Hub’s latest spin-off STRIDE, the business school of the future.

Knowledge and information overload

Today knowledge is everywhere. In the form of information, it is literally only a fingertip away. If we are stuck with a question and don’t know the answer, we ask our personal consultants Mrs. “Google” or “Siri” for advice. Yet this doesn’t mean we can solve every problem at a fingertip as well.

In 2014, the oasis School of Human Relations published a study on the transition to Peer Learning. They outlined that, in a peer-to-peer teaching model there is considerable emphasis placed upon the need for processing skills of a high order – skills to manage the way things happen, the responses people have to what happens to them and ways of managing conflict resolution and difference, for example. The report says many simply do not have these skills. What does this mean for the classical concept of educational institutions?

Peer-to-peer teaching: an example

Many new education models are popping up One initiative can be found in Finland, at the Koulu School, a spin-off from the Demos Helsinki thinktank.Their teacher training concept has condensed a vast amount of pedagogical research into a simple method. Put simply; people learn best from peers, and a great lesson comprises five essential elements.
We call it the five-finger method. The thumb stands for activation; to get people inspired the thought they can learn something, to awaken their interest in the topic with examples and activation. The forefinger stands for theorization, such as summarizing the topic into five points. The middle finger represents motivation, meaning the ability to encapsulate the reason why this topic, in particular, is important to master. This can be done, for example, by telling a personal story about the benefit gained from having the information or mastering the skill. The ring finger stands for engagement, getting people to communicate and interact. Finally, the little finger is for pinky promise, ‘to keep it real’, to find practical examples and real life applications for the knowledge. These elements apply to all teaching, whether the topic is the sailor’s knot or space technology, and whether it’s a matter of a 15-minute mini-session or a 5-day seminar.” (Read more: here).

This is only one example, in fact, the Economist just published an article about the rise of hands-on universities transforming how students learn. The students work on tough practical problems in open space classrooms. One example, is the Design Factory, part of Aalto University in Helsinki. It is inspired by Standford’s “d.school” and brings engineering, art and business students together to design, build and market a product. Kalevi Ekman, its founder, says: ” There are very few Da Vincis, the rest of us have a responsibility to prepare students for the future.”

Collaboration on an institutional level

At STRIDE we not only want to prepare the students for the future but enable them to actively shape their own future. At to core of our program is a real venture creation. Inspired by today’s global societal challenges, our students will go through a learning trajectory to create their own purpose-driven venture. Collaboration and peer-to-peer learning are at the heart of our learning design, which is aimed to form an environment for our students to exchange, learn and reflect. Our first class starts in March, and we have only a few last spots available. You can start shaping your future now.
Collaboration is not only at the heart of our learning design but also how we want to work with other education providers. Hence, we are excited to announce our new partnership with one of Europe’s top business schools, Business School Lausanne. The partnership enables our students to potentially continue their educational path to receive a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Read the full press release here (in German). On top of that, we will work together more intensively to keep learning from one another. As Andy Grove and Clay Christensen would surely agree: in the meeting of diverse yet aligned peers, great innovations will arise.