One of the core findings from our studies of disruptive innovation is that in order for an incumbent to catch a disruption, an organization often must set up an autonomous unit complete with its own business model – its own resources, processes, priorities, and profit/revenue formula – with the mission to seize a nascent opportunity, grow, and be unencumbered by the parent organization. It’s not at all an easy thing to do; we don’t see it happen that often.

As disruption increasingly comes to higher education, on the surface anyway Tiffin University appears to be taking a page from the Innovator’s Solution as it sets up an autonomous online two-year degree program for an associate of arts degree in general studies. They’ve even branded it differently from the parent: Ivy Bridge College.

You can read about it on this Inside Higher Ed article. The online degree program will fill a gap in offerings in the space and target many who are overshot by existing offerings or are nonconsumers, including students who can’t afford a four-year college, those who would have to commute or leave a job to relocate or something to attend college, students who aren’t confident enough or ready to go to college yet, students with disabilities, and those who were home-schooled who might prefer to study at home initially.

They are partnering with some interesting players like InsideTrack, who provide student coaching services. The idea of the degree is to feed the students into bachelor programs at other institutions ultimately.

Are there other examples of this? This seems to be quite different from the MIT OpenCourseWare decision and Yale posting its lectures to iTunesU, for example.

– Michael B. Horn


  • Michael B. Horn
    Michael B. Horn

    Michael B. Horn is Co-Founder, Distinguished Fellow, and Chairman at the Christensen Institute.