Don’t know what you WANT ‘till it’s ON

“Customers don’t know what they want.” — Jobs

I was reading Michael Feldstein’s rant about LMS. The TL;DR of it is:

  1. Selling big dreams to educators is a hard sell. This doesn’t mean that they don’t believe in big dreams, they just don’t want to spend money on them at the moment.
  2. Educators already have a job and it isn’t designing EdTech products. Don’t ask them what they want, they’re busy using what they have.

To quote Feldstein: “Rather than coming with ideas of what they could have, they come with their fears of what they might lose.” This also applies to ideas that we, EdTech developers and vendors, come up with.

To deconstruct the title of my post, and respectively to the two points above:

  1. The sales process is broken. Convincing consumers that they have a need that they don’t see is not going to work unless you turn ON the solution. In an archaic illustration, it’s like the difference between promising someone that their productivity will improve if they only start taking notes and asking someone to write down a phone number. In the first case, you spent a lot of time to plant a seed of belief that you’ll need to spend a lot more to nurture. In the second case, you’ve demonstrated demand. In the first case, you’ve earned a believer. In the second case — you’ve sold a pen.


  1. The feedback process is broken. You can’t ask educators what they WANT. They’re not going to design your product for you. They might be able to request a feature that they’re missing or let you know that another needs fixing, but that’s not how you start a revolution. No true rebel, a leader of a movement, has ever stood at a town square or a hilltop and passed around evaluation forms.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t promote a long-term vision for what education can and should be, with the help of technology. And I’m not suggesting closing the conversation with the actual practitioners of education. I’m urging EdTech-ers to take responsibility over the conversation. And I’m proposing taking control over our sales strategy, where rather than push our wares at them, we pull them in.