Harvard Business School
Under the leadership of CEO John Fallon, Pearson, the self-proclaimed “world’s learning company,” had made significant progress toward becoming a learner-centric organization. Several years prior, the company embarked on a path that put the learner at the heart of the business and committed to a new strategic orientation. This approach was meant to ensure that products and services were developed with outcomes that mattered to learners in mind and marketed touting their efficacy credentials. While several efficacy reports had been produced on legacy products to refine the framework, 2020 marked the first year that Pearson launched an offering with efficacy as the guiding principle from the very start. As Fallon neared the end of his tenure, he wanted to chart the next phase of the journey. Should the company aspire to develop all of its products and services with efficacy at the core? Which learner outcomes made the most sense to focus on in the future? How could Pearson better communicate efficacy in the marketplace and get it to resonate with various stakeholders—particularly educators and learners? How should Pearson combat “copycat” competitors that started touting efficacy in their own communications—albeit often without the same rigor that Pearson applied? Was efficacy a pillar upon which to build the Pearson brand? In short, should his successor bet the Pearson “farm” on efficacy?