The Unreasonable Effectiveness of 1-1 Learning: The Hidden Network Effect

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Sep 26, 2023

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The Unreasonable Effectiveness of 1-1 Learning: The Hidden Network Effect

Education is often seen as an expensive endeavor, not just because of the cost of tuition, but also because students have to pay for more than just learning. However, if your primary focus is on learning and you don't care about the additional aspects, there is a way to learn anything 98% better than in a traditional classroom setting, and for significantly less money. This can be achieved through 1-1 tutoring.

A famous study in educational psychology revealed that students who learned through 1-1 tutoring performed two sigma better than those who learned in a classroom environment. This means that they performed 98% better than their peers. Intrigued by these findings, I decided to explore the benefits of 1-1 tutoring for myself.

As an aspiring writer, my goal was not to obtain a degree, but rather to improve my writing skills and complete my novel. So, I came up with the idea of finding an author who could tutor me. To my surprise, I learned much more about writing and made significant progress on my novel compared to any other learning method I had tried before.

However, it is important to note that 1-1 tutoring is a completely different experience from taking a class. In a tutoring session, you have to suggest a structure, bring in your work for review, identify the specific skills you want to build, and make progress on your own between sessions. It requires active engagement and self-discipline.

Now, let's shift our focus to the concept of the hidden network effect. In the early days, Facebook was a network with inhibiting factors, as only users with a Harvard University email address could join. This is a common characteristic of companies in their early stages. They often appear more like linear businesses rather than network-driven enterprises.

However, there are hidden network effects that can lead a company towards long-term success by creating unique advantages. The network effects of these companies are real, but they remain hidden in plain sight. Traditional network effects occur when the value of a network increases as more users join. But there are cases where network effects are not apparent, yet they still exist.

These hidden network effects can be compared to diamonds in the rough. The most crucial aspect is understanding how they can affect competition. Let's explore three different types of network effects that may not appear to be network effects at first glance.

The first type is a slow network effect. It refers to the time it takes for the value of a network to become visible after its construction. Slow networks often have products with long usage periods or low usage frequency, which weakens the momentum of network effects. However, once established, slow networks are challenging to extinguish.

The second type is an incomplete network effect. This occurs when the product characteristics or strategic decisions temporarily render the network incomplete in a material sense. However, once the network is completed, the network effect becomes immediately apparent. OpenTable is a prime example of this. During its early years, the company focused on gathering a sufficient number of restaurants to create a platform where users could easily find and book reservations.

The challenge with incomplete networks is that they often remain incomplete. The efforts to complete the network may fall short, resulting in an unfinished state that hinders the network effect.

The third type is a constraining network effect. This occurs when product characteristics or strategic decisions limit the scale or establishment of a network on a material level. For instance, consider a network of female executives called Chief. It is similar to the Young Professionals Organization (YPO) but exclusively for women in leadership positions. The model of user adoption is currently fixed to monthly group sessions, leaving limited room for scale. While indicators such as applicant quality and customer referrals can provide some insights, they are uncertain and imperfect measures.

Differentiating between constraining networks and limited networks is crucial. Limited networks have inherent limitations, while constraining networks have the potential for growth, but external factors restrict their development.

Now, let's explore the concept of a network that attracts users initially for its tools but keeps them engaged for its network. Delicious, a bookmarking service, and Instagram, with its filter feature, are classic examples of companies that initially attracted users for their tools but retained them for the network effect.

Some companies even build their network before completing the actual product or tool. This approach involves starting with community building that acts like a network. Users interact, form connections, and collectively create value. Eventually, the product is introduced, leading to changes in the adoption and retention of the network.

These networks hold great potential, but they are the most challenging "hidden network effects" to envision and execute. In these cases, users derive value not from the network itself but from the central nodes within the network. Networks thrive on retention, while audiences consume. When someone new joins the community, ask yourself who benefits the most. If the answer is everyone or a significant portion of the community, it is a network. If it is just the central node, then it is an audience.

For entrepreneurs who bet on the hidden network effect, reaching that magical tipping point before their competitors is crucial. It offers a substantial advantage for those who rely on the power of their network.

To wrap up, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Consider 1-1 tutoring as a powerful learning tool: If you want to accelerate your learning and achieve better results, investing in 1-1 tutoring can be highly effective. It provides personalized attention, tailored feedback, and the opportunity to focus on your specific goals.
  • 2. Identify and leverage hidden network effects: Look for opportunities where network effects may not be immediately apparent but can provide a competitive advantage. Analyze the characteristics of your product or service and explore ways to build and engage a community to harness these effects.
  • 3. Understand the dynamics of network effects: Different types of network effects exist, and understanding their nuances can help you make informed decisions. Whether it's a slow network, an incomplete network, or a constraining network, consider how these factors may impact your business and adapt your strategy accordingly.

In conclusion, the unreasonable effectiveness of 1-1 learning and the hidden network effect offer valuable insights into the realms of education and business. By leveraging these concepts, individuals and companies can unlock their full potential and achieve remarkable success. So, whether you're a student looking to excel in your studies or an entrepreneur seeking a competitive edge, remember the power of personalized learning and the hidden potential of networks.

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