The Humble, but Longserving, Master Combination Lock

Forced by my usual gym being closed due to a bursted pipe, I visited one nearby that had agreed to let our members in for the day. While my gym loans keyed locks, the new one did not so I ended up buying one for the first time in years. Guess what? The same Master combination lock style that I used in junior high (more than 45 years ago) is still being made and just as popular as ever with the gym set.

What other product is as unchanged over a similar span of time? One can argue—quite convincingly—that no change is needed as the venerable Master lock does it job both cheaply and well. It provides adequate security to keep one’s valuables safe in a school (or community rec center) locker room. Anything more elaborate or high-tech would be overkill.

School, especially pre-K through grade 12, is almost as unchanged. The modern education quantum of X students with Y teachers in Z classrooms still defines school almost everywhere. The values of X, Y and Z may vary, as they always have, but that formula still drives pedagogy, staffing and budgets around the world. We can ask whether that same quantum still does its job cheaply and well; e.g., thereby making the case that no real substantive change is necessary.

We might even be willing to concede the fact that little about education is cheap these days, but might there be a way to do it better? Especially given that the humble Master lock still serves only the purpose that it did decades ago, while our schools, especially private, independent ones, are fulfilling many more purposes. Dare we wish for a new quantum that is both cheaper and better? And who will be the first to try something new?

Business and leadership, Governance, Headship, Strategy  |  permalink

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