The Electric Educator: Shipping

Monday, August 1, 2011


I recently finished reading Linchpin by Seth Godin. There were a couple of ideas in the book that were very powerful. One of them is the idea of shipping.
"The greatest shortage in our society is an instinct to produce. To create solutions and hustle them out the door. To touch the humanity inside and connect to humans in the marketplace."
Flickr via zyphbear
The concept of "shipping" is simple: an idea is fully realized and release for public consumption, use, or purchase. It's not just a scribble on the back of a napkin or a business plan in a file cabinet, it's a real, live, fully functional thing.

As I have become better connected in my industry (education), I become increasingly skeptical and frustrated by unrealized ideas. It's easy to criticize existing solutions and write about a much better method or idea. It's easy to blog about how this new piece of technology will revolutionize the classroom or how standardized testing is bad for students and should be abolished.

The internet is filled with talkers. The number of doers is far smaller.

A linchpin is someone who has the desire, determination, and drive to see an idea through to the end. Not just to talk about it, not just to criticize the existing establishment, but to actually do something to change it. Linchpins ship.

Shipping is scary, because once you complete something and open it up to public examination, you become the object of evaluation and criticism, and it's always a possibility that your idea will fail.

The most successful companies and individuals who have the ability to overcome obstacles, maintain vision and focus, and push a product, idea, or solution out the door.

I'm evaluating the things that I spend my time doing to make sure that I'm producing something of value, not simply adding to a deluge of words.


  1. That's a REALLY big issue to deal with there, especially since most of education is getting students to publish, create, and "ship" content and ideas out to the world. Teachers don't always have time to put that idea into practice in their own professional lives, which is why you see such a rousing chorus of "yay!" cheerleading a lot of the efforts that do go out.

    However, I think there's something to be said about our "industry" being a testbed before shipping. So much of what we do in education is preparing students, learners, and our colleagues to become better producers, better curators of ideas if you will. Often that criticism is necessary to make ideas stronger, or help focus on what's really important. As long as it's constructive that is!

    If anything, it's scary for schools to become "shippers" because while it does open up your ideas to the rest of the world, it's only one step of the process. Schools need to maintain that incubator feeling, otherwise we run the risk of imparting to our students that everything need to be ready to ship, ready to defend, ready to open up to the world.

  2. Well said, John. Couldn't agree more with your statement: "The internet is filled with talkers. The number of doers is far smaller." Talk is cheap. I admire those who "do" all areas of life! Those who put action to their words show their true colors.

  3. Oh yeah, and I really would like to read the book :).

  4. @Ben: thanks for your comment. Getting students to produce and publish their work is a great illustration of the principle of shipping. When we display, showcase, perform, publish etc, we learn so much more than if we simply write a paper that few people, if anyone will read.

    @Renee, you're welcome to borrow the book anytime. I highlighted all of the good parts for you!


Thanks for contributing to my blog. I enjoy being a part of the conversation and do my best to respond to comments and questions that are posted.