What Business Are We In?

In 1975, Theodore Levitt wrote a piece in the Harvard Business Review entitled “Marketing Myopia.”  In it he discussed the plight of the U.S. railroad industry’s decline over time.  The finding was not that the needs for the rail system had diminished.  The railroad companies viewed their essential purpose as moving goods across the country instead of overall transportation—that included passenger systems as vital to their economy. Over the same period of time, the European rail system invested heavily in the passenger industry as it became central for travel within and across countries.  The difference in perspective may have been subtle, but oh so powerful!

Similarly, education behaves as if it were in the teaching business, focusing resources on curriculum, instructional pedagogy and assessment (CIA).  Though there is much talk using the word learning, it has not enjoyed the same attention as CIA.  We pour dollars and time into teaching tools, teaching methods, using digital assessments for student data, materials and programs to provide fidelity for teaching, and on and on.  Precious little has been done to unpack how learning actually takes place, what is required to motivate and maximize learning, and what the brains of millions of learners of today need, in order to best prosper.  Teaching is a means to an end.  Learning is the end game…lifelong learning.

How aware of the changes—over decades—are we…and the implications of those shifts?  What business are we in now?



Dr. Robert K. Greenleaf was formerly a professional development specialist at Brown University. Bob has 45 years of experience as a superintendent, principal, teacher & special education.  Bob has traveled conducting Brain & Learning Institutes for Greenleaf Learning.  bob@greenleaflearning.com


Elaine M. Millen, M.Ed. C.A.G.S., has over 50 years of experience in education as a teacher, principal, director of special education, curriculum director assistant superintendent of schools and higher ed instructor.  As an instructional coach, she has worked nationally in areas of leadership, instructional coaching, and student engagement.  She worked with Brown University as a consultant. Elaine.millen90@gmail.com