We have identified the prevalence of “magical thinking” as one of the hallmarks of TBI. Rather than basing their claims on any objective criteria or awards, which frankly don’t exist, they merely heap compliments and praise on themselves. The much-loathed TBI Head Office is filled with cronies of Mariam and Luke who regularly engage in chimpanzee-like grooming and petting sessions. It is a bizarre and freakish world in which they spending hours telling each other how professional/clever /brilliant/enviable they are, even as the complaints from their business partners pile into the inbox. No amount of failures or complaints makes an impression on them; the ego-stroking continues at a furious pace, and they honestly believe that those who don’t perceive their brilliance are in some way flawed or defective. The latest boast which is coming out of their online communications is the claim that they are an “innovative” company. It is this laughable claim which we will debunk here.
Innovation has been one of the buzzwords of recent years, and business-people love to call themselves innovative. It is no longer enough for the egotistical boss to be seen as filthy rich; they want to believe that their wealth is due to creativity and new ideas. The new hero is Steve Jobs, and the CEO of 2014 would typically like to see himself’/herself (usually him) as a “visionary leader” with a penchant for “creativity” and “rule breaking”. It is hardly surprising then that the “Top 10 Innovative Companies” lists are filled with tech start-ups and IT companies. The 2013 list included predictable names: IBM, Google, Apple, Samsung, and Sony. How representative these companies are of Big Business generally is rather questionable; there is good reason to believe that true innovators are quite rare outside the IT/computers/smartphones field. But there is no doubt that every corporate wannabe would like to be thought of as innovative.
What qualities do these truly forward-thinking companies have which enables them to be perceived as innovators? It turns out there are some solid indicators. First, innovative companies tend to create loads of patents. The company which registered the most patents in 2014 was IBM, with over 6000 new patents being registered. Samsung came in in second place. Apart from patents, innovators will generate a lot of intellectual property. Put another way, they copyright a lot of new publications, business systems and other new ideas. Moreover, they will typically spend a large percentage of their revenue on research and development. Developing new books/software/patents is neither cheap nor easy. True innovators will have teams of scientists/academics/writers creating new materials and ideas and patents. In other words, being innovative requires a large investment of time/energy/resources. It is not something you just call yourself because you want to sound cool.
Is TBI Innovative?
TBI claims to be innovative. They have been spouting the word on all their online pronouncements of late. The blurb for TBI Bali, their first new school in years, pointedly claims that TBI is an “innovator”. TBI online recruiters have also used the word over and over of late. But how well does the reality match up to the hype? The short answer is that TBI is an imitator not an innovator and their claims to be innovators are just delusions/magical thinking, which no one but themselves believes.
This is a company which buys its course books off the shelf. Their General English students study Cutting Edge, a book published by British publishers Pearson, who are actually the owners of Wall Street, one of the TEFL market leaders and true innovators. Sadly, TBI have bought copyrighted materials “off the shelf” for use in their schools. If you can walk into a bookstore and buy a copy of Cutting Edge, then you are just as “innovative” as TBI. They didn’t write or even commission their course books; they just ordered them straight out of a catalogue. While their competitors have spent millions of dollars developing intellectual property, they have taken the easy way out and simply let others write their curriculum for them. In truth, TBI actually bought its software from Pearson. How is this possibly innovative?
Wall Street Designed TBI’s Online Learning Program, “Islands”
The situation is even more dire in the area of IT. They have been talking about having online learning for years. After all, Wall Street introduced it to Indonesia as far back as 2007. It didn’t arrive at TBI until 2014. Far from being innovators, they are laggards, chasing behind their rivals, half-heartedly trying to play catch-up. Yet embarrassing as their slowness is, it only gets worse. Their new online component called “Islands” is yet another “off the shelf” purchase- a piece of software bought from Pearson. Once again, Pearson/Wall Street are the true innovators, writing and designing their own software. The technologically inept TBI are so weak in the area of innovation that they have to pay their competitor to enter the Digital Age. Without any IT know-how at all, they are reduced to buying it off the shelf from a truly forward-thinking TEFL business.
If you can buy software online, you can also call yourself an “innovator”, at least according to TBI standards. But let’s face it; they don’t even know the difference between innovation and imitation. Without any ideas of their own, they are simply an empty shell which buys copyrighted materials from true innovators and implausibly claims them for their own. This is yet more proof that “magical thinking” pervades TBI, shielding them from the harsh reality of their own vast incompetence.