Friday, November 20, 2015

The time horizon of change

On September 20, 2011 a Disney blog publicly announced the agreement between Walt Disney World and James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment. The highlight of the announcement was Disney's Animal Kingdom would be home to an area devoted entirely to the blockbuster movie Avatar. That was 2011.

Construction began in 2014.

Yesterday I toured Disney's Animal Kingdom and construction was still going on for the area that will be known as Pandora - The World of Avatar. Yesterday was November 19, 2015.

Expected completion date could be in 2017 for part of the land but full completion may be in 2019. If my math is correct 2019 would be eight years after first announcing the agreement.

Right now almost half of Disney's Hollywood Studios is closed off to guests as they build themed attractions around the Star Wars franchise they purchased from George Lucas several years ago. Completion of these attractions is a few years away.

In Epcot construction is underway in the Norway pavilion for a Frozen-themed attraction. Due to be completed in the near future, this new attraction was launched by the blockbuster movie that debuted in 2013.

In today's NOW economy it is difficult to remember sometimes that change occurs at a pace all to itself. In the world of attractions that pace of change can be years.

The same is true in the realm of existing virtual schools. Changing marketing strategies or branding efforts can be done quickly -- hire a new firm with the bright and shiny accouterments and everyone feels like change is happening. Everything has a fresh coat of paint so everyone thinks it is new, yet the cracks remain.

However, the real change required, the kind of change that impacts the students and families, the kind that makes a difference takes a little longer -- this change requires more than a marketing paint bucket.

The obstacle most virtual schools run into when considering this undertaking is they shorten the time horizon allotted for this change to occur. If it cannot be completed in one enrollment cycle then the pain is too much to bear.

The average Disney World guest visits the parks every three to four years. This means a guest at the park in 2011 when the Avatar deal was announced will visit the parks two more times before the new attraction is completed. They will be eight years older.

The difference is Disney understands the concept of time horizon. They understand that short-term pain will be offset by long-term gain.

What is true for Disney can also be true for virtual schools. The current model is broken. It's time to make the public announcement that a deal has been reached and for one virtual school in each state to step up and become the standard by which all others will soon want to follow.

The short-term pain will be offset by the long-term gain.

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