Well, it should come as no surprise. Yesterday, Tim Tebow was released by the New York Jets. A sad end to a long year. Why on earth the Jets decided to grab Tebow in March of 2012 is hard to fathom at this point. However, what is pretty clear is that Tim Tebow did not listen to Clayton Christensen. Well, not exactly.

Last March, I posted a tongue-in-cheek entry that imagined what advice Clayton Christensen, the czar of Disruptive Innovation, would give Tim Tebow as he assessed his path forward in the NFL. Despite assertions otherwise from the Tebow camp, the Denver Broncos reportedly provided Tim a limited opportunity to pick where he went next. A day after I posted the entry, an offer from the Jacksonville Jaguars (might have worked) was stiff-armed in preference to the opportunity to play for the Jets (not a prayer). The decision ran counter to every aspect of advice I imagined Clayton Christensen would have given Mr. Tebow. A miserable outcome was predicted, and a miserable outcome was had.

The robustness of Disruptive Innovation principles is amazing to me. Integrated steel mills. Disk drives. Personal computers. Health care. Education. And football? Yes, football too. Ignore these principles at your peril.

Okay, Tim. Clayton told you so. Rugby anyone?

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Tebow's Jets jersey has been hung up for good.
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Tebow may need to re-read piece of advice #4 - Consider Rugby.

 
I finally got around to reading through a great report jointly published by the Center for American Progress and the Innosight Institute. Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education was published in February of last year and was authored by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, Louis Caldera and Louis Soares. For those of you that enjoy anything written by Clayton Christensen and team, this is a must read and addresses an important topic. However, I do believe the report glosses over a key job that colleges and universities are hired to perform. That job is to provide an environment where students gain wisdom through the college experience,  a critical piece to the transformation to adulthood. It is far from clear how that job is or will be disrupted. However, if and when an enabling technology begins addressing that job even feebly, the pace of disruption will accelerate tremendously and all but the most prestigious colleges and universities will be overwhelmed.  

Disrupting College Report by Christensen et al
The Disrupting College Report was published in February of 2011.

 
The Peyton Manning Era was officially ushered in today at Bronco headquarters. For all intents and purposes, this has ended the Tim Tebow Era in Denver. Boy, it sure was fun while it lasted.

I started thinking about what Tim Tebow should do next. Of course, he has little leverage at this point and will go wherever he is traded. He may get waived, and in that case he has more options.

Tim Tebow is an unusual football talent with incredible leadership skills but, by nearly all accounts, is an under-performer in traditional quarterbacking skills. If you're a little warped like me, this should make you wonder:

How would Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution, advise Tim Tebow?

Tim Tebow will soon found out his fate now that his days in Denver are
Expect another run on Tebow jerseys.
Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor
Clayton Christensen: czar of disruptive innovation
Christensen: "Hi, Tim. Sorry to hear about the developments in Denver. Of course, I could have easily predicted it if you had only asked."

Tebow: "Professor Christensen, thank you for your concern, sir. It is a pleasure and honor to talk with you. What do you recommend I do next?"

Christensen: "Well, Tim. I have several ideas drawn from my most famous books. Here are my four recommendations:"

  1. First, face it, you are bound to lose if you go head to head with the status quo. It will take years, if ever, for you to acquire the skills of a traditional quarterback. The NFL market is built on traditional skills.

    But, if you really get down to it, there's not a whole lot of innovation in the NFL. Skill difference within pretty narrow restrictions of offense and defense is what sets one team apart from the other.

    You need to embrace your unorthodox you. You should focus on satisfying the needs of a franchise or new segment of customers whose needs you know you can satisfy.

  2. Downselect to teams that have been traditionally under 0.500. Teams that have struggled pretty consistently over recent years are far easier to please. Their expectations are lower.

    The Broncos are obviously not that team. They have a winning Super-Bowl tradition. After entertaining your disruptive innovation for a half season, they decided to head down the traditional path. They added a big increment in capability with Peyton Manning in the hopes of leapfrogging their competition.

    Tim, think Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills.  And of course, the Jacksonville Jaguars.  No Super Bowls, rare playoff appearances, low expectations.

  3. Only entertain teams that will consider truly unusual offensive schemes. You need to be in an offense that will really change the structure of the game. Full-up wishbone offense? Maybe, but not innovative enough. How about extreme formations with only two guards and a center? What about a super shotgun formation where you're back 10-15 yards to buy more time and introduce more on-the-fly scrambling?  The team will struggle at first, but will then master the new structure and begin winning.

  4. Consider Rugby.  Limited passing skills are not a detriment here. You just need to be able to run with or lateral the ball. You do this in your sleep. I cannot imagine a Rugby team owner that would not love to get you and make money from the untapped US audience.

    The rub here is that the US team is currently ranked 17th in the world. Not quite good enough. You will need to consider one of the power countries like England, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. I recommend England to avoid the confusion the general US population has about the Southern Hemisphere.

    Dual citizenship will be required and you may need some help to make it happen. The next Rugby World Cup is in 2015, so you'll have plenty of time to hone skills. Rugby is also going to be an Olympic Sport in 2016. I think an Olympic Medal would make you even more marketable if and when you then return to the NFL.

Tebow: "Wow. That's a lot to think about."

Christensen: "Yes it is. But I've seen how these things work in the steel and disk drive industries."

Tebow: "Huh?"

Christensen: "Never mind.  Good luck."

Tebow: "Thank you.  And God Bless You."


March 21, 2012 Update: Tebow was traded to the NY Jets today. Based on the above, this will not go well.