Interviews and Reviews

Michael Conner Interview: Founder and CEO of the Agile Evolutionary Group

michael conner interview founder and ceo of the agile evolutionary group

Michael Conner, Ed.D.

Founder & CEO

Agile Evolutionary Group

Michael Conner’s talent and experience as an educator has contributed to his work eliminating biases in statistical and educational models. As Founder and CEO of Agile Evolutionary Group, he leads his company in achieving different results by approaching problems with innovation and a new perspective. Dr. Conner received his Ed.D. from Cambridge College, a Graduate Diploma from Harvard University’s Harvard Business Analytics Program, and an Advanced Certificate in Management, Innovation & Technology from MIT. He has spent close to two decades in education, first as a teacher and curriculum specialist and later in educational leadership roles including Chief Academic Officer and Superintendent of Schools.

Where did the idea of the Disruptive Excellence Framework come from?

The conception of the Disruptive Excellence Framework came from the totality and tenure of my time on the education ecosystem. Obviously, looking at it from a problem-centric lens and being able to look at new methods to apply for systems change, we needed to do something fundamentally different—the outlier of the traditional education model.

Being a former superintendent and chief academic officer, I noticed that, holistically within the ecosystem, we were just building on or trying to incrementally improve in basic level efficiencies, but we were not really changing the model to meet the demand for our students. In essence, there are three conceptual models that are traditionally used in education and to guide our thinking, and those had to be disrupted. Essentially, I created the Disruptive Excellence Framework to encompass all three models and then elevate them using science, big data, and important AI integrations.

This is where our economy is heading, and our schools are moving in the polar opposite direction, doubling down on an industrial model. Obviously, we need to make changes to systems and structures as well as how we teach kids and look at them differently from a cultural lens. This is the frame of mind from which the Disruptive Excellence Framework and my book, Intentional, Bold, and Unapologetic: A Guide to Transforming Schools in the AC-Stage of Education, were conceived.

Why did you decide to start Agile Evolutionary Group?

This underpins the same rationale for developing The Disruptive Excellence Framework. The framework acts as a guidepost to help leaders make the change, but in order to make those changes, we needed a holistic organization or corporation that has a coalition embedded within to limit the changes. When we see pockets of excellence across the country, we don’t see them being scaled intentionally. So, the Agile Evolutionary Group Corporation has three core competencies: consultation, partnership, and thought leadership.

These core competencies at scale that are embedded within the Disruptive Excellence Framework. We are here to improve education. In order to do that, to have true impact within the ecosystem, you must have like-minded individuals comprising your team. That’s our goal—to continuously expand and grow our team so that we can be able to effectively maintain this strategic disruption, not from a piecemeal standpoint, but from a holistic approach where everybody has the common language within the education model.

How do you think your background has impacted the success of Agile Evolutionary Group, Corporation?

I believe it’s the interface between standardized educational research and empirical studies that a lot of educational ecosystems operationalize and then the emergent practices that exist within a more innovative ecosystem existing within big data and analytics that really set Agile Evolutionary Group a part from competitors. That is the background I bring and with which I’m able to create this platform to adopt different practices from this emergent world and apply them to education. We must look at education as innovation, and using both of these skill sets to address core problems our clients and partners have is something that is unique and something I am able to contribute to our space.

How do you incorporate new strategies and tactics into your business organization?

Experimentation is key. Through building and developing different data analysis sets to analyze and see what we can scale, we’re able to keep the business fresh, innovative, and thriving. Within the corporation, we have a business model that has three different elements to ensure we are constantly reaching for organizational excellence and innovation for our partners. Within that business model exists what I refer to as a portfolio of verticals—six verticals that have various activity sets and are aligned to each vertical.

Strategically, through the business model and the alignment of portfolio verticals as well as the delegated activity sets to support the implementation of those verticals, we embrace what is different—an element of organizational or industrial change to specific partners and clients that wish to partner with us.

What would you say to others who find themselves meeting a unique need through their entrepreneurial endeavors?

Persevere and persist. One thing I’ve learned as an early entrepreneur is that there are days when you want to just give up, because you’re not generating revenue as fast as you want to generate growth. If you persevere, keep persisting, show your resilience, then opportunities will open, and those opportunities will come that allow your business corporation to accelerate. It’s most important just never to give up, even though it could be bleak at times. Know that those tough times don’t last.

Key Takeaways

  • AEG will continue to iterate its business model so that the company may scale products and sustain practices while exploring new revenue and growth.
  • The key to reaching these big goals is setting and meeting specific KPIs through a focused, precise 12-month model that includes copiously monitoring and measuring each opportunity and partner.
  • The future is in learning every day and continuing to ideate and build on successful practices.
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