Executive Courses Article Latests Articles Thu, 29 Oct 2020 09:05:58 +0100 <![CDATA[Beyond Twitter and Facebook: Executive Courses in Social Media]]> Over a  billion Tweets are sent out every day, and there are more than 900 million active Facebook users. But is this really something that executives and managers need to care about?

Beyond being efficient two-way systems for communicating with customers, social media can also help businesses with a huge range of services, including hiring, collaboration, and advertising.

But if a business does not have a social media strategy, then these potential markets and benefits can be out of reach. Or, worse yet, if you don't know how to use the tools, then your social media strategy may come across as disconnected and confused. For instance, Eric Saine, the director of business development at McGill Executive Institute, says that many people don't “realize how long it takes to build an audience through social media.”

“So they'll make the mistake of pulling a campaign before it's had time to build traction,” says Saine.

According to Livia Grujich, who teaches the three-day “Social Media Planning” at Schulich School of Business' Executive Education Centre, the importance of social media really goes beyond just Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the current platforms.

“A lot of people come to the class thinking that it's a how-to,” says Grujich, “but what we try to say is, yes, the tools are great, but don't get caught up in the technology, because technology comes and goes.”

And even for businesses who are eagerly embracing social media as a marketing or communication platform, there can be huge gaps in their knowledge of how to effectively utilize the tools.

“It's not a scenario where you just put a “Like” button on your website, and expect that to be a social media campaign,” says Mario Bottone, who teaches the two-day “Optimal Marketing and Online Strategies” at McGill Executive Institute.

Indeed, an executive education course in this area can help provide a conceptual framework for understanding the implications of social media. Grujich says that when she teaches the Schulich course, she begins with a broad perspective, and then drills down into social media specifics through a series of case studies that look at both successful and unsuccessful approaches to social media planning. Then, through hands-on activities, she has participants analyze their own companies' individual approaches to social media.

“By the end of the course,” Grujich says, “they walk away with what should be the beginnings of a social media plan.”

Courses like this that have hands-on activities help executives practically apply the theories into their own businesses, effectively allowing them to examine and understand their own social media problems. This approach is especially effective for those who've tried to come at social media through a trial-and-error approach.

“People come armed with questions when they come to this kind of course,” says McGill's Eric Saine, who adds that “this is such a fast-moving management principle, and many people end up going about it on their own, for the most part.”

A wider perspective

McGill's “Optimal Marketing and Online Strategies” is a new incarnation of another program that focused more specifically on online media and social marketing. Saine says that participants tended to come into the older course without a clear sense of marketing goals. The updated course allows participants to “just take a step back,” he says, and ask, “what is your clear plan and process to optimize your marketing and commercial activities?”

Likewise, Babson College's three-day “Social Media Management: Strategies and Practices for the New Social World” course provides breadth beyond the basics of social media. The program is taught by three instructors: Patricia Guinan, whose background is in organizational behavior and strategy; a marketing professor; and a technologist. This allows the course to cover a broad range of perspectives, and through this broadness it aims to help participants fundamentally rethink business.

“The backdrop is certainly Twitter, Facebook,” Guinan says.“But it's also taught with the idea that the marketing department will change radically; the human resources department will have to change radically because of the social business, because the millennials are perceiving the world in a different way.”

“So how do we shake up our businesses and shake up the world to get excited about best practices in social media management?”

With social media's impact on business widening, so is its appeal. Livia Grujich says that when she first started teaching Schulich's course in social media, the focus was generally marketing managers who were put in a position where they had to deal with social media, and they wouldn't know how to.

Now she sees everybody from human resources managers, who need to use these new tools to attract potential candidates; to people in very senior positions, for whom “it's not so much about how they can use the tools, but how social media affects their organizations overall;” and business owners who see social media as a more cost-effective tool  than traditional advertising.

In any case, what participants may come away with is a better comprehension of a business area that is rapidly maturing. “It's changing so fast,” says McGill's Eric Saine, “but they walk away with a greater comfort level, saying 'ok, now I understand a little bit more.'”

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/beyond-twitter-and-facebook-programs-in-social-media Mon, 21 Sep 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Psyched Out]]> On any given day, go into any office, anywhere, and you’ll most likely find some kind of psychological drama being played out. Every organization has its share of trust issues, complicated relationships, power struggles and deceptions.

Navigating these matters can be enough to give many managers anxiety issues.

But when it comes to leadership, a grasp of psychological issues, and of the unspoken things that happen between people in organizations, can be particularly important.

“Leadership is not as complicated as people think,” says Jack Denfeld Wood. “It's not particularly mysterious, but it is deeply psychological.”

Denfeld Wood is a practicing psychoanalyst, but also a professor of management practice at the Shanghai-based China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). He says that psychological insights can give managers a better understanding of human behavior, and thus, make them more effective leaders.

Effective leaders, Denfeld Wood says, “have a vision and they motivate their followers. How do they motivate their followers? Rationally? No. Emotionally.”

Increased self-awareness

A number of executive education programs leverage psychological insights to help managers develop their leadership skills.

CEIBS, for instance, offers two different three-day executive education courses in this area: “The Psychology of Coaching Teams and Leading Organization” and  “Managerial Psychology in Practice.” These look at a range of topics not typically covered in many management courses, such as dynamics of interpersonal relationships, conflict management, and employee motivation.

The week-long “Essentials of Effective Management: The Psychology of Management” at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, covers core management topics, such as decision-making and critical thinking, as well as more behavior-oriented curriculum, like expectation management and cooperation. This program, like many others in this space, is taught by a team of professors with expertise in behavioral studies and psychology.

Konstantin Korotov, who is a professor of organizational behavior at Germany’s ESMT European School of Management and Technology, says that the human behavior aspect is a main part of the three-day “Leading with Psychological Intelligence” program, which he teaches on.

“We try to distill what psychology has told us about human behavior in general,” Korotov says, “and then we select the aspects that might be particularly important for organizations.”

As an example, Korotov notes that when making decisions, managers often don’t consider that they may have their own biases, and leaving these biases unaddressed can negatively affect teams and projects. So the program examines some of the well-known biases in how people make decisions, and then participants explore these biases by playing a game, which can reveal how they themselves may make judgment errors. 

“Then there is a discussion about how to minimize the impacts of those biases in daily operations,” Korotov says, “where a team has to make decisions.”

The goal of these kinds of activities and others (participants also put on an improvisational theater show) is essentially to take leaders out of their normal environment so that they can better understand their coworkers and themselves.

“The major takeaway,” Korotov says, “is increased self-awareness.”

Trying on different lenses

Around five years ago, Qi Zhang, while a business manager at a life sciences firm, attended “Building on Talent,” a four-week long leadership development program offered by Switzerland’s IMD Business School. The program covers both the cognitive side of management, with courses in subjects like marketing and strategy; as well as the psychological and emotional aspects of leadership.

Zhang says that today, she can’t remember what exactly was covered in the cognitive part of the program, but the psychological pieces have stuck with her.

“It had such a big impact on me,” Zhang says. “It helped me to understand me, on an individual level.”

In particular, Zhang feels that the program helped her see the world from different perspectives. 

“I can put on a different lens, and see the same thing from a different angle,” she says. 

Zhang says that these psychological insights have helped her more easily identify and work with the unspoken aspects of what happens in organizations on a day-to-day basis.

“Behaviorally, we are driven by our own deep stuff that we might not even be aware of,” Zhang says, and “that impacts teamwork.”

“In that sense I can be more effective in a team.”

Today, Zhang uses some of these insights in her current role as an executive coach. “I believe there is a big grey area between psychiatry, psychology, and coaching,” she says.

Armed with an understanding of psychology and human behavior, Zhang says she can better serve as a “mirror” for her clients, so that they can better see their own strengths and weaknesses.

“They can look into the mirror and see what they really stand for,” Zhang says, “and what kind of limitations they might have merely because of their lenses.”

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/psyched-out Tue, 01 Sep 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Executive Courses in Business Analytics: Harnessing the Big Data Explosion]]> For something that only exists in computers and cables, it’s funny just how unavoidable data is. One can’t open up a newspaper without reading about the staggering amount of data that is collected every day. These otherwise inconspicuous zeros and ones, when piled up, are described as “revolutionary” and “game changing.” 

But it’s more than just hype. The fact is that many companies today have access to a huge range of data that can be leveraged to make strategic decisions.

Simply knowing how to sort and analyze data, and then being able to ask the right questions about it, can give a company a competitive edge. According to a recent report by Bain & Company, companies with the most advanced analytics capabilities generally make better, faster decisions than their competitors.

“Some opportunities and some risks can only be identified from data,” says Dessislava Pachamanova, who teaches on a two-day program at Babson College called “Business Analytics for Managers: Using Data for Better Decision Making.”

“Only a better understanding of analytics can help a manager navigate such opportunities and risks.”

Increasingly, companies are tuning in to the strategic advantages of big data. 

“I think everybody is asking the question 'how can we use the data that we have, to make better decisions around the choices that we have to make?’” says Phillip Leslie, an associate professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

The problem is, since the field is still relatively new, many managers haven’t yet learned how to effectively use data analytics in their decision-making processes. 

“Managers inside of companies today didn't grow up with that,” says Leslie. “This is a new approach.”

In October, Leslie will teach on a new executive course called “Put Your Data to Work: A Leader’s Guide to Effective Analytics.” Over three days, the program will delve into the big-picture issues around data analytics, including how to ask the right questions, effectively collaborating with analysts, and thinking critically about data.

Like many other executive programs, the UCLA course will give an overview of important concepts in analytics through a mix of presentations, practical exercises, and groupwork. 

“It’s about being more actively involved in the design of an analytics strategy, and being able to answer an important question for the business,” Leslie says.

With the new course, UCLA joins a growing number of executive education providers that are offering open-enrollment programs in business analytics and big data. Many of these courses, such as Harvard’s four-day “Competing on Business Analytics and Big Data,” and UNC Kenan-Flagler’s three-day “Big Data and Business Analytics,” are fairly general, and are aimed at leaders who come from a wide range of industries.

Another group of programs are the ones that target specific industries or functional groups, for which data is becoming significant. For instance, Penn State’s Smeal College of Business recently announced that it will offer a new, two-day program focusing specifically on how big data can be used in marketing for the hospitality industry. 

Like many other industries, hospitality is field where data analytics are becoming increasingly important as a competitive advantage. 

“We don't think of hotels as being traditionally a web-based business or a technology business,” says UCLA’s Phillip Leslie, “but there's an immense amount of data that a hotel chain is accumulating around transactions, capacity utilization, and pricing.”

Regression analysis? A/B Testing? Huh?

Fortunately for those who may not have a PhD in data science, most of these executive programs cover the more strategic issues involved in analytics. Therefore, a robust understanding of technical concepts is usually not required. However, many of the courses will touch on the basics of how data is collected and analyzed. In the Babson course, for instance, participants practically address a business problem with commonly-used analytics software. The exercise is designed to be “manageable for somebody who has never built a model or used the software packages before,” according to Dessislava Pachamanova.

Pachamanova does advise that participants have some knowledge of Microsoft Excel before taking the program.

Likewise, Phillip Leslie says that participants coming into the UCLA program don’t need much technical understanding at all. However, the program will explore some of the mechanics of common analytical procedures. 

“If you're going to interact with data analytics as a leader,” Leslie says, “it's helpful to have some insight into what the mechanics look like and what some of the underlying statistical issues might be.”

For many managers, an exposure to the basic tools involved in analytics is one of the takeaways from these executive programs. But beyond that, participants will come away with a more fundamental understanding of the kinds of questions that can be answered with data, and how to ask them. And this can lead to being more comfortable about using data to make better business decisions.

“It's going to increase peoples' enthusiasm and confidence around relying on data,” says Leslie.

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/harnessing-the-big-data-explosion Mon, 24 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Does This Logo Make My Brand Look Fat?]]> In the business world, it's hard to imagine a more ambivalent group of people than today's brand managers. With social media and globalization, they're faced with huge opportunities to grow their brands and company profits; but at the same time, one false step can really hurt. Just look at KFC – when the fried chicken company tried to break into the lucrative Hong Kong market in the 1980s, it didn't realize that its well-known slogan, “finger-lickin' good,” would translate to “eat your fingers off” in Chinese.

Of course, KFC changed the slogan posthaste, and the company is currently doing quite well in Hong Kong, and is growing strongly in mainland China. However, if this happened today, with sarcastic Tweets, memes, and fun-poking Tumblr posts, one could easily imagine a blunder like this turning into a full-blown crisis.

Pitfalls like this are one reason why a number of managers are turning to executive education to help with branding issues. “There's a realization that this is a really important topic,” says Kevin Lane Keller.

“Your brand is just critical, as an asset. It affects you in so many ways, and you can benefit from it in so many ways.”

Keller teaches on an executive program called “Brand and Reputation” at Dartmouth College's Tuck Executive Education. Over two and a half days, the program covers tools and frameworks that can help participants develop a strategic approach to building brand equity and reputation. 

Likewise, McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business offers a one-day course in “Corporate Branding and Reputation Management,” as part of a broader which also covers strategic issues such as planning, as well as the importance of identifying stakeholders. The latter can be particularly important to many organizations, who often need to think outside the marketing box when considering brand and reputation. According to Barry Kuntz, who teaches on the program, “the course shows that building, growing and protecting corporate reputation is definitely not the job of marketing alone.”

“Indeed, a company can fail if they miss this very important point.”

Linking brand with reputation

These two programs are part of a growing number that link brand and reputation – two core concepts in corporate communications which often overlap. A large-scale study done last year by Hill+Knowlton found that even if the terms are frequently confused or used inaccurately, they are in fact strongly correlated, meaning that perceptions of both tend to move in the same direction. Additionally, the study found that “they are indeed separate constructs, and they speak to separate (though sometimes overlapping) audiences about different issues.”

“They're clearly related,” Dartmouth's Kevin Keller says. “When you think about it, reputation is another word for image, and brand image is a well-established concept in marketing.”

And indeed, Keller says that each topic generally draws a distinct group of participants: marketing people are more interested in the branding side, whereas the reputation content tends to attract those who work in corporate communications. This creates a dynamic environment where participants can learn from the course, as well as from each other.

“It broadens them, because they tend to focus on one of the two sides, and the other side is relatively new,” Keller says.

And beyond that, participants in these programs might find that they'll get a dose of practical experience, from which they can learn how to deal with real issues. In the Dartmouth program, attendees are encouraged to bring in their own branding and reputation issues, to discuss with the group. Likewise, in the DeGroote course, attendees participate in a mock media interview, where they can assume the role of an executive whose firm is currently in the midst of a crisis.

“This exercise and the discussion that follows demonstrates the fragility of corporate reputation, and the need to be prepared for any eventuality,” according to Barry Kuntz.

While everything #changes, everything remains the #same

As the news cycle is described in shorter and shorter time frames, the need to be prepared for any eventuality is becoming increasingly important. Just look at the social media team at Tesco, who, while the company was managing fallout from a scandal involving horsemeat last year, forgot to turn off its auto-Tweets. One unfortunate Tweet read “It's sleepy time so we're off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets."

But as pointed as this case may be, it also highlights the need to have a well-defined strategic approach in place to prepare for and manage these kinds of possibilities. 

“So many things have changed,” says Dartmouth's Kevin Keller, who notes that new technologies, along with globalization, and an increased awareness of social responsibility, are three main forces that are currently affecting marketing.

“Those are three powerful forces, and they have definitely affected how we do branding.”

However, in the face of these larger shifts, the fundamental marketing concepts – like segmentation, targeting, and positioning – haven't changed, and are still as important as ever.

“Without the strategy side in place, it's going to be difficult to be successful, no matter how good you are tactically,” Keller says.
 

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/does-this-logo-make-my-brand-look-fat Thu, 20 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Would Your Company Pay for Your Executive Education?]]> When some managers look at executive education programs, they might get a sense of sticker shock. And it's not hard to see why: for the cost of many short open-enrollment programs, you could instead take a nice, long luxury vacation. A general management program at an elite business school might cost as much as a brand new Lexus.

Ideally, a potential executive education participant can get their employer to cover some or all of the expense. But in today's era of squeezed budgets, some participants are finding that their companies simply aren't willing to fund employee training and development as extensively as they used to.
 
So, how do you convince your employer to help fund your executive education?
 
For somebody who works in a company where other employees have previously used executive education, there might already be professional development funds or other forms of support ready to be utilized. 
 
It also might pay to ask around, to see how others have done it in the past. According to Kate Anderson, the director of marketing and enrollment for executive education at MIT Sloan, “if someone mentions to us that they are having trouble getting their organization to cover the costs, I often look for past participants from the inquirer’s organization, and see if they might be willing to connect with the person and advise them on how they managed it when they attended a program.”
 
But those who work at companies where executive education is a new concept might have a harder time. According to Nick Barniville, the director of degree programs at the Germany-based ESMT European School of Management and Technology, “there are some companies where there is absolutely no structure,” for supporting executive executive education, “and the person has to create the enthusiasm for the project within their own company from scratch.”
 
“It's often a harder sell, because there is no precedent,” says Barniville.
 
For people in this position, Barniville suggests pitching the idea to the employer or the company's human resource department in the terms of a business case study. This helps demonstrate to the employer – in their own language – just how valuable the education will be. 
 
“We really encourage people to develop a pithy argument that's short, and presents the benefits of the investment,” he says. “It's basically a cost-benefit analysis that they should be able to present to their company.”
 
Rudolf Repgen, executive director of IESE's executive education programs in Germany, would agree. He says that “it is mostly about explaining the value proposition,” which is that, “there are clear components that can help participants develop as leaders, and which can make their companies more competitive.”
 
For example, Repgen says that somebody who pursues a course in finance will come away with tools and techniques that can immediately save his company money. And this can directly translate into bottom-line impact. 
 
“The program can be paid off in the first week,” says Repgen, “because you are learning cost-saving methods in the first week of the program.”
 
And in some cases, there are external funding sources that executive education participants can explore. According to MIT Sloan's Anderson, “some participants, particularly in nonprofit organizations, obtain third-party funding such as a grant or scholarship.”

Never enough time

But for many executives, the actual cost of the program isn't always the deal-breaker. 
 
“If you talk about people at the top tier” says IESE's Repgen, “it is less of a financial issue for most companies, than a question of time off from work.”
 
Indeed, high-capacity managers are likely involved in many aspects of a company's day-to-day operations, and might be hard-pressed to find time to sneak away to an executive education course or workshop.
 
For managers struggling with how to convince their employer to allow them some time off for executive education, Repgen advises pursuing a modular program that's broken up into several sessions, so they don't have to be away from the office for a long period of time all at once.
 
ESMT's Barniville suggests another approach to negotiate some time off, and to minimize the financial impact of an executive program. 
 
“The candidate can offer as part of the pitch to his or her employer that they would be prepared to sacrifice vacation time,” he says, “or that they would be prepared to pay for some of the expenses,” such as travel costs or hotels.

A fresh mind

Beyond extolling the financial benefits of executive education and negotiating time off, a potential executive education participant might contend that other factors – like exposure to new research and networking possibilities – could help their company in more profound ways. According to Barniville, “there's exposure to top-level research and the latest thinking, and that helps people to make more informed decisions” in their business.
 
A manager who has been in a single industry or functional area for a long time can try to convince her employer the exposure to new ideas executive education can provide much needed perspective. 
 
According to IESE's Repgen, “if you are working for ten or fifteen years, going in the same direction, by nature you will lose a little bit of the connection to new ideas and other industries,” he says. “Executive education can provide you a fresh mind.”
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https://executivecourses.com/articles/would-your-company-pay-for-your-executive-education Tue, 18 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Executive Courses in Coaching: Learning to Inspire]]> When many executives think about coaches, they might imagine a sports coach, or a personal life coach – a person whose job is to lead and motivate. And in the past, some firms would indeed hire executive coaches – people whose sole role was to provide guidance in terms of employee training and development.

Some organizations still do have executive coaches, but the reality is that in today's age of crunched budgets, many companies simply don't have this luxury. And so the coaching responsibilities – training, motivating, inspiring – are increasingly being handled by general managers and department heads rather than dedicated coaches.

According to Eric Saine, the associate director of the McGill Executive Institute, before the 2008 economic downturn, many companies were able to invest in infrastructure that would help employees with training and development.

“In the past, human resource departments could play a bigger role, but since HR divisions are under a lot of pressure and cost-cutting, the whole idea of developing people is really coming back to managers,” says Saine.

“All of the sudden, coaching responsibility has shifted to various managers in the organization.”

Fortunately, for executives who are finding that they need to add more coaching skills to their managerial toolkit, there are executive education programs that can help. These programs generally range from short two-day seminars like “Coaching to Excellence” at the University of Cape Town, to longer, more in-depth programs such as Georgetown's “Certificate in Leadership Coaching,” a 152-hour class that takes deep dive into the nuances of body language and group coaching. For those who are looking to become a professional or executive coach, there are also full-fledged degree programs, like Ashridge's two-year Masters in Executive Coaching.

But for many general managers, the sweet spot is a two- or three-day course, which usually covers some general theories around coaching, and then provides a controlled environment where participants can practice their coaching skills.

For example, the 2.5-day “Coaching for High Performance” course offered by the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management “combines theory and practice,” according to Glen Orsak, Telfer's director of executive programs and a practicing business coach.

In the course, participants are exposed to a series of frameworks on general coaching skills – such as ways to build trust and how to listen actively – and then practice these skills in pairs with instructor oversight.

“There's an emphasis on creating a safe space for the participants in the training session,” says Orsak, “so that they can actually bring in real-life examples to their coach-pairing experience.”

In some courses, like the Center for Creative Leadership's three-day “Coaching for Greater Effectiveness,” participants are videotaped during practice sessions, so that their strengths and weaknesses can be immediately identified.

The practice sessions, recorded or not, can be extremely important for those who have recently been put into leadership roles, and might not yet have much practical coaching experience. For these new leaders, ideas central to coaching – like effective communication or “emotional intelligence” need to be experienced, rather than just studied.

“It helps to put some discipline structure and to create something more tangible around the idea of 'soft skills,'” Orsak says.

A roadmap

Executive programs in coaching which combine theory and practice are valuable because they can allow managers to immediately apply the learning. In McGill's two-day “Coaching for Performance and Results,” participants “go from, 'here are some best practices in coaching, to now let's apply them'” says Eric Saine.

From this process, Saine says that participants can start to see a “roadmap” of how coaching can work in day-to-day situations. For example, an executive who doesn't have much experience with coaching might be reluctant to go into a difficult conversation with an employee who is dealing with performance issues. And when the executive does have the conversation, he­ might feel unprepared.

“But by using some coaching techniques – the listening and the dialog, and having an understanding of the process behind the coaching – this helps them plan for that conversation,” says Saine.

Having these frameworks can be very useful, since coaching can require different approaches depending on the context.

“There are different techniques for if you're trying to inspire someone to go beyond where they are in their role, versus if they're trying to resolve an issue that's dragging them down, or if they're trying to make a big decision in their life or their career,” says Glen Orsak at Telfer.

Since many executives don't get a chance to practice each case in the workplace, an executive program can be very valuable in helping them explore the techniques and take more risks than they would normally.

“The experience of actually coaching, and pushing you beyond your comfort zone will be part of what you do,” says Orsak.

“Because, chances are when you go back to your work life, you're not going to push yourself outside your comfort zone.”

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/executive-courses-in-coaching-learning-to-inspire Fri, 14 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Beyond the Campfire: Storytelling for Leaders]]> Today's business leaders face considerable challenges. With email, smartphones, Twitter feeds and the like, attention spans during meetings or speeches can be extremely limited.

And for many executives, this information overload might threaten to overturn traditional organizational structures and power dynamics. For one, people today are less willing to endure a  series of mind-numbing PowerPoint slides than they used to be.

“Because of the saturation of information, people are looking for something different,” says Janie Van Hool, who teaches a workshop at Ashridge Business School called “Engage Your Audience: Personal Impact and Storytelling.”

“It's not the kind of hierarchy anymore like it was 50 years ago, where people were followed because they had positional power,” says Van Hool.  “It's definitely an emotional economy, and people need to understand how to operate within that.” 

While for some, 'storytelling' might conjure up late-night campfire yarns, some managers are turning to executive programs that focus on building storytelling skills to help them overcome a variety of leadership challenges. For instance, a main issue today is that many managers have a lot of valuable information they need to deliver, but might not necessarily know how to deliver it in an engaging fashion.

“Even very intelligent, credible, and laudable business executives who know a lot and have been through a lot,” says Alexander Mackenzie, “can be actually quite poor in processing information verbally, and quite poor at engaging an audience motivationally.”

Mackenzie teaches a one-day executive education course at Cranfield School of Management called “Winning Hearts and Minds” which helps managers engage and motive listeners through storytelling. Some leaders, it seems, are catching onto the idea that this age-old practice can help them in today's world of dwindling attention spans.

At their core, executive courses in storytelling can help participants work on the softer side of leadership. And for some executives, even minor insights here can be extremely valuable. 

“I'm amazed how little sense and awareness leaders have about timing,” says Ashridge's Janie Van Hool, who has developed the course with insight from her background in acting and voice psychology. Her approach to the course is very practical.

“We tend to break it down into physical presence, vocal presence, and then work on some structured tools around how they engage with a story.” 

The course also covers storytelling frameworks, which can help leaders develop a structured narrative process for telling and delivering a story, and bringing their stories' characters to life.

Courses like these leverage insights from research in the field of “emotional intelligence,” which posits that qualities like empathy and self-awareness can be just as important for leaders as the harder skills like intelligence and vision.

But beyond motivating people with snazzier PowerPoint presentations and parables, storytelling skills can also help managers more positively frame challenging organizational shifts, such as changes in strategy or downsizing. Storytelling skills can also be helpful in external communications, especially in today's age of social media, where people are expecting an increasing degree of genuine engagement and transparency. 

Can engineers become storytellers?

Storytelling courses can help a wide variety of leaders, but the ones who often find them most valuable come from fields like engineering, where leaders may have not had a chance to develop robust communication skills on their way up the corporate ladder.

A typical participant in Cranfield's “Winning Hearts and Minds” program is someone in a senior position, possibly with an engineering or scientific background; someone who, according to Alexander Mackenzie, “is very well aware of the information that he or she needs to deliver, but isn't always very good at doing that.”

MacKenzie also notes that the course also draws people from fields like marketing, who already have a good command of communication skills, but may just want to “polish up.”

In the Cranfield course, participants bring something to the course that they will eventually have to deliver to an audience, and go through the process of turning it into a story. Mackenzie says that “my hope would be that whatever they've brought along , whatever small presentation that they've got to deliver, that traveling it through this process of storyfication is in itself a big help.”

In the end, simply running through these practical exercises and putting storytelling into a framework can help participants bring an increased sense of self-assurance back to the workplace. 

“The tools give them confidence,” says Janie Van Hool.“They have to have the confidence to take a step outside of their normal communication.”

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/beyond-the-campfire-storytelling-for-leaders Mon, 10 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Leading from the Outside-In: Outdoor Leadership Programs]]> Leadership is a tricky beast.

For executives and managers, it's is an extremely important skill; but developing it in the workplace can be difficult, when day-to-day tasks, meetings, and other rote activities get in the way.

And for some executives, especially those who are tuned-in to a growing body of leadership research, sitting in a classroom as a way to develop these skills might not seem like the best option. 

“We learn by doing,” says Scott DeRue, who teaches at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. “We learn outside the classroom, by experiencing challenging developmental situations.”

DeRue, who is also an accomplished mountaineer (he just climbed Mt. Everest in May), recently put together a new course for Ross called “Advanced Leadership in Action: Kilimanjaro,” where, over seven to eight days, executives will climb to the top of the storied peak.

So how does a climbing to over 19,000 feet build leadership skills? In DeRue's research, he's found evidence suggesting that while at work, the pressure for executives to perform can actually inhibit risk-taking, which makes it harder to learn new skills.

Risk-taking at work can be challenging because, “all the natural fears and anxieties come in and people say 'what's my boss going to think about me?'”

And getting out on a mountain, in a new environment that's not as performance-oriented (and where the boss won't be watching), can open people up to new experiences and risks.

A trek can also help executives make better decisions in an uncertain, complex environment – a mountain conveniently serves as a vivid metaphor for today's business world. In the workplace, “the level of uncertainty that we deal with, the level of complexity that we deal with, is extreme,” DeRue says. 

“The same thing is true on the mountain – you deal with all these uncertainties, whether it's weather, health, the itinerary itself, or the complexity of all the group dynamics.”

In short, a course like this can take executives out of their normal workplace environment, so that they can perceive themselves and their leadership skills more clearly, without the distractions of performance reviews, board meetings, or profit-and-loss statements.

Leadership on four legs

“You're so glued to your desk, and you're so glued to everything that's going on, you don't have proper perspective,” in a workplace environment, says Yolanda Sing.

Sing facilitates a two-day program at South Africa's University of Stellenbosch Business School, called  “Authentic Leadership through the Gift of Horses” where participants explore leadership by interacting with horses. The principle, according to Sing, is that horses can help executives to achieve a higher level of self-awareness, since the executives' equine learning partners are extremely perceptive and intuitive.

“One of the things that really trips up leaders is that they're not self-aware,” Sing says. “They show up to work, and they're not aware of how their behavior and how their thoughts impact their team.”

However, unlike many humans, horses “are very in-tune [with their environment],” Sing says. “They're really perceptive of non-verbal behaviors – it's much more accurate than any human being can give you feedback on.”

Executives who pursue the course learn that it's not just what they say that makes them a real leader – it's the subtle exchanges, body language, and simply how they carry themselves and interact with others.

And, according to Sing, it's stepping out of the day-to-day routine that really brings home the message.

“It's the horses, it's the fresh air, it's a different environment, it's out of the boardroom,” she says. “All of this gives people an opportunity to really look at themselves from the outside in, about how they are perceived as a leader.”

Other leadership courses that can help executives get out of the office:

Innovation in Corporate Sustainability: Your Leadership Path to Sustainability
Offered at Erasmus University's Rotterdam School of Management, this five-day program takes executives out into the Swiss Alps, to help them learn about sustainability through nature.

Participants in adventure courses from the National Outdoor Leadership School can undertake a variety of outdoor activities, from rock climbing to snowboarding, in order to build leadership skills.

Advanced High Performance Leadership from IMD Executive Education also takes place in the Swiss Alps, and is designed for executives who want to improve their leadership skills in a natural environment.
 

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/leading-from-the-outside-in-outdoor-leadership-programs Tue, 04 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Sharing Value: Executive Programs in CSR]]> For businesses, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are here to stay. Even in 2010, at the height of the financial crisis, a survey done by the management consulting firm, Accenture, found that 93 percent of corporate CEOs agreed that “sustainability will be critical to the future success of their companies, in spite of the recent economic downturn.”

But for some organizations new to CSR, it might seem like an afterthought at best, or a loose collection of pet projects at worst. 

According to V. Kasturi Rangan, who teaches a CSR executive program at Harvard Business School, in many companies, “there's always a marketing strategy, an operations strategy, an HR strategy.”

“But what is the CSR strategy? Hardly any,” says Rangan.

Accordingly, many leaders are turning to executive education in order to integrate CSR aspects into their corporate strategies. And interest in these programs has been expanding to unexpected industries. It's no longer just reputation-conscious mining companies or companies with manufacturing operations in developing countries.

“Even straight, run-of-the-mill organizations: many banks, financial service organizations, consumer packaged goods companies –  they all seem to be interested,” says Rangan.

Financial services firms, for example, see value in executive education because it helps them align their traditional avenues of CSR – such as philanthropy – within a more strategic perspective. Some business schools are beginning to offer executive programs that specifically address sustainability in the financial sphere. For example, Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management offers a one-day course called “Green Finance: Measuring and Mitigating Sustainability Risks,” which focuses on the corporate risks of climate change.

Creating shared value

A core concept at the heart of many executive courses in CSR is the idea of “creating shared value,” (or “CSV”) – the understanding that a firm's productivity depends on the health of the community around it, and that companies should recalibrate their metrics for “success” to include more holistic factors.

“Doing Well While Doing Good” – a one-day course offered at Washington University in St. Louis' Olin Business School – reconciles CSR within this wider framework. According to program teacher Stacy Jackson, “the broadest perspective is to consider business broadly as a sustainable 'human' value-creating entity where there is no distinction between CSR or CSV.”

By using this wider perspective, some executive courses are taking on fundamental topics. For example, the three-week “Managing Sustainable Development” course at the Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands helps participants understand how issues like poverty and the failure of basic public services can be managed through a cooperative approach. 

According to Mirjana Stanisic, the program manager, past participants have mainly come from developing countries, where there is an increasing awareness of CSR topics. 

“They are fully aware of the need and of the development in CSR,” says Stanisic. “The awareness is there, but the means, and the process, need a push. And that takes time.”

Time is one thing. But for many managers involved in CSR programs, this awareness can be difficult to come by in the workplace. 

“The research and the thought leadership in the field has jumped way ahead of practice,” says Harvard's V. Kasturi Rangan. 

“If you talk to most senior leaders, they usually all agree on the idea of creating shared value,” says Rangan. “But the problem is that to execute it is very, very hard.”

For executives interested in developing their company's CSR strategies, typical challenges that include a lack of leverage and not knowing about current best practices in the field.

To help with this, during Harvard's four-day course in "Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategies to Create Business and Social Value," participants engage case studies to explore current CSR models, look at the current research in the area, and analyze and discuss their own company's sustainability challenges. Rangan says that, while participants might not have a CSR strategy nailed-down by the end of the course, they get a framework, and “then they can make a strategy out of it, mold it, and make it mesh with the corporate strategy.”

“Then you are able to create shared value.”


Photo: Russ Tucknott / Creative Commons

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/sharing-value-executive-programs-in-csr Thu, 30 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Learning to Think Strategically]]> If you're like many executives, you might find that in managing the day-to-day operations of your company or department, you sometimes lose sight of the big picture. Your long-term strategic plans might seem harder to achieve if you're continually focused on the small things.

Even the most successful managers “get entrenched in their recipes and routines of doing things,” says Patrick Reinmoeller. “And that locks them into specific ways of thinking about what they're doing.”
 
Reinmoeller directs the executive program “Breakthrough Strategic Thinking” at Cranfield School of Management in the UK. He says many of the program's participants are looking for new ways to break out of their old routines, because they know that the old routines can limit their potential.
 
“Usually they're high-performance in their silos,” Reinmoeller says, “but they realize that the next promotion will expose them to this empty space on top of the silo, where they suddenly have to interact with other people from other silos.”
 
“It's a real challenge for them.”
 
For these kinds of executives, a short course that focuses on strategic thinking can help in many different ways. These courses can provide concepts and frameworks that can be applied to anything from seizing new career opportunities to managing a project or growing a business.
 
Indeed, business schools offer a variety of strategic thinking courses, focusing on different applications. For example, Wharton Executive Education offers a week-long course in “Strategic Thinking and Management for Competitive Advantage;” York Schulich offers a program in “Critical Thinking and Strategic Problem Solving Skills for Leaders,” and the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business has a course in “Strategic Thinking and Action.”
 
Strategic thinking can be especially important because it can give executives the rare opportunity to step back and evaluate business operations between larger strategy discussions.
 
“What we see is that executives in companies might go off-site for two days, once a year, to update their strategic plan,” says Grant Sieff, who teaches “Strategic Thinking and Execution for Growth” at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.
 
By their nature, strategic plans tend to be static, and can be disconnected from the real business world, where things change daily, or even hourly. 
 
“The nature of the operating environment is so volatile that there needs to be a thinking process with every operational transaction that links the executives back to that plan, and that keeps that plan alive and relevant,” says Sieff.
 
Cranfield's Patrick Reinmoeller agrees. He says that the goal of strategic thinking “is to continuously question whether your old way of winning works tomorrow.”
 
This continuous strategic thinking process can be beneficial to many executives, in a variety of functional roles.
 
“Strategic thinking occurs in all the various functions of any organizational challenge, so people who are in the marketing profession have to engage with strategic thinking, people who are in human resources have to engage in strategic thinking,” says John Oesch, who teaches a five-day course “Leading Strategic Change: An Integrative Thinking Approach” at the Rotman School of Management.
 
Integrative thinking is similar to strategic thinking, and can be used in developing solutions to complex, or “wicked” problems. Like strategic thinking, integrative thinking is a methodology that works best when applied continuously.
 
“Part of the integrative thinking approach is that you're constantly building feedback loops from which you can learn,” Oesch says.
 
To teach managers to be effective strategic thinkers, executive programs rely on a variety of learning methods. For example, in the University of Cape Town's “Strategic Thinking and Execution for Growth,” participants cover traditional case studies, but much of the four-day course is geared toward interactive, roundtable discussions. 
 
According to Grant Sieff, since participants come from a variety of different backgrounds, the discussion format helps participants see their own strategic issues from different perspectives.
 
“It allows us to explore the nature of the operating environment,” he says, “within which we all have to struggle and cope – to explore it from our different lenses.”
 
One of the main benefits of executive education programs in strategic thinking is that they allow executives to immediately apply new insights. For example, participants who attend Rotman's “Leading Strategic Change: An Integrative Thinking Approach” program are able to address their projects during the course. 
 
“We ask that people have a real, ongoing, live project,” John Oesch says, so that they're able to analyze it and apply new approaches.
 
Some executive programs are set up in ways that allow participants to directly implement these strategic thinking insights in the real business environment. For example, Cranfield's “Breakthrough Strategic Thinking” program is a modular course that's delivered in two two-day sessions. In between the two sessions is a period of between six weeks and two months where participants are able to apply new ideas.
 
“When they come back to the program, they'll present to each other what kind of concepts they applied, and which ideas have achieved some kind of success,” says Patrick Reinmoeller.
 
“And by doing so, they push their own project ahead.”
 

 

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/learning-to-think-strategically Tue, 28 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Executive Programs in Marketing: Talking the Talk]]> Marketing takes place at many levels across a wide swath of industries: an entrepreneur may find herself managing outreach for a newly-developed product, while a whole team might be involved in developing branding for a new line of apparel. 

And in a fast-moving business world where digital and social media marketing are causing shifts in consumer behavior, marketing's significance is becoming more important, even for general managers.
 
“If you don't know the basics, it's going to be hard to walk the walk and talk the talk,” says Kurt Carlson, who co-teaches a three-day course called “Brand Advantage: Standout Marketing in a Saturated Market,” at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.
 
Fortunately, there are many such short courses that are specifically designed for people who have little to no formal knowledge of marketing, and who need to start talking the talk. For some who are looking to switch careers or functions, an executive course can be a more time-effective alternative to a full-fledged degree program. 
 
Jodie Conduit, who teaches the two-day course “Marketing for Managers” at the University of Adelaide, often sees “people who are trying to retrain themselves but don't have enough time to be enrolled in an MBA.”
 
According to Angela Tong, associate director of executive education at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, some participants who come into the school's five-day “Strategic Marketing Management” have recently been thrust into marketing roles, and want to quickly get up-to-speed on the fundamentals. 
 
“A lot of people who are in the marketing field kind of get thrown into it,” says Tong, who adds that the  course can help by providing an academic framework.
 
“It will go through a customer analysis, a competitor analysis,” Tong says. “There's a day on pricing, there is a half-day on branding - it really covers all aspects of marketing.”
 
Michel Tuan Pham, Kravis Professor of Business at Columbia Business School says that a good number of people who attend Columbia's week-long program in “Strategic Marketing Management” already have some kind of experience in marketing. For even seasoned executives, he says, a course in marketing can help them get a higher-level view of how marketing works in their organizations.
 
“Some executives who manage marketing on a day-to-day basis tend to lose sight of the bigger picture,” he says. “So, we bring them back to the foundations of marketing at a strategic level.”
 
But beyond understanding the strategic level, students in a short course on marketing can also expect to come away with a more cohesive understanding of the people who are going to buy their products and services. Georgetown's Kurt Carlson, whose background is in behavioral economics, says his program holistically integrates insights from disciplines like psychology and decision sciences, which allows participants to more fully grasp what consumers need.
 
“It's not about advertising, and it's not about selling things that people don't want,” Carlson says. “If you do marketing right, you understand the consumer well enough to figure out what they need, so you're not producing unnecessary goods and services that people aren't going to use.”
 
Another benefit of an executive program in marketing is the robust interaction and discussion that can result from attendees bringing their own experiences.  Adelaide's Jodie Conduit says that participants often come to “Marketing for Managers” with issues they've faced in the workplace and want to address.
 
“Hearing people talk about the different industries and the different challenges they face,” she says, “makes them realize that that a lot of those challenges are quite the same across industries.”
 
Georgetown's Kurt Carlson agrees. 
 
“There's always discussion, in every class that comes from students' problems that they face, and how the material that we're discussing can help them resolve those problems,” says Carlson.

Real Value

After doing a short course in marketing, participants often walk away with a tangible plan that they can start immediately applying to their business. At Adelaide, Jodie Conduit says that during class, she works with participants to help them develop personalized statements of value propositions, where they can start understanding where to look for new markets. 
 
“Especially for some of the smaller businesses, it's actually quite interesting how often they haven't done that,” Conduit says.
 
Likewise, participants in Columbia's “Strategic Marketing Management” course are asked to bring in a specific marketing problem that they are currently facing in their business. Throughout the course, they can continually apply new tools and ideas to the problem, and by the end of the course they have an action plan and a timeline to address it. 
 
“By the time that they leave the program,” says Michel Pham, “there are many more changes that they want to make than they can do immediately.”
 
But perhaps more valuable is the increased competence that a course like this can add, especially for executives who are increasingly exposed to marketing. Angela Tong says that after completing Booth's “Strategic Marketing Management” course, executives “can go into a meeting, and they'll be able to better understand the customers, the competitors, and much more of what goes into marketing.”
 
“If you have these fundamentals, you sho­uld be able to go into any situation and be able to understand what's going on.”
 
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https://executivecourses.com/articles/executive-programs-in-marketing-talking-the-talk Mon, 20 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[For the Better: Executive Courses in Change Management]]> In today's fast-paced business world, not many things stay stable for long. Companies and organizations are increasingly forced to quickly react to external changes, which can undoubtedly influence day-to-day projects and even business strategies.

Executives today are often forced to decide whether to implement change projects – and these changes, especially the fundamental ones, can undoubtedly appear daunting.

“Change can happen at any moment,” says Leland Sandler, who teaches the half-day “Overcoming Immunity to Change” at UCSD Rady's Center for Executive Development, but sometimes people find that “something is just getting in the way of that change.”

And beyond obstacles, other challenges persist. Many times, managers will enact large, abrupt changes without considering smaller, more long-term shifts, according to Andrew Campbell, director of the Strategic Management Centre at Ashridge Business School.

For example, “a typical challenge is when to use the structure lever,” Campbell says, “because changing structure can be very disruptive.”

Campbell teaches Ashridge's four-day executive course in “Advanced Organisation Design,” and says that he finds that many leaders try to change up their organization's structure too often for the sake of efficiency.

“You can often solve things by taking some individuals away on a weekend sailing trip, and getting them to make friends, or by training people, or by changing steps in a process,” says Campbell.

“There are a lot of things that you can do which can facilitate organizational effectiveness that don't involve structure.”

An executive education course in change management can help managers see this larger perspective, by providing a framework that can help facilitate change. Often, participants come into these programs with a variety of specific change needs, or questions about implementation or best practices.

Marc Buelens, who teaches the four-day “Inspiring for Change” (in Dutch) at Vlerick Business School, notes that people come into the course with “different change situations in the back of their head, from the most strategic to the most psychological or concrete.”

Like many change management courses, “Inspiring for Change” uses a combination of lectures, testimonials, and case studies to guide participants through change processes. Ashridge's “Advanced Organisation Design” focuses on group interaction to illuminate specific organizational issues.

“We do exercises that help participants teach each other,” says Andrew Campell. “We also do role-play exercises where there's some tricky issue that needs to be negotiated, in order to understand the relationship dynamics or organizations.”

Executive courses in change management: getting personal

Change management courses aren't always about organizations – many focus primarily on more individual or personal change, which can be difficult for some executives.

“People will often say things like, 'I'm hard-wired' or 'I've tried doing something different, it's just not in me, it's just not who I am,'” says UCSD's Leland Sandler.

Unfortunately, a resistance to change can have negative effects on an organization. For example, a leader might be hesitant about bringing others into a decision-making process, fearing that it will diminish his value as part of the team. This hesitance can bog down the entire process, and make it harder to make good business decisions.

In “Overcoming Immunity to Change,” Sandler leverages insights from research in developmental psychology to help managers move past these kinds of blocks, and helps them determine the root causes and assumptions that are inhibiting change. Sandler says that these personal processes can work better in a neutral executive education environment, as opposed to a day-to-day workplace.

“It's harder within an organization, where you have your counterparts all around, where you have a lot at risk, as well as whatever the political agendas are that are coming into play,” he says.

Learning about change management in an executive education setting can have other benefits, as well. At Ashridge's “Advanced Organisation Design,” participants are encouraged to bring in a management issue that they've run into, so it can be analyzed in a small group setting.

“That is frequently a huge eye-opener,” says Andrew Campbell, “because they suddenly see their situation through more objective eyes.”

Campbell says that this objective analysis, along with some insight into change management frameworks and processes, can help participants bring new ideas back into the workplace that can be applied over the long-term.

“They go away with some tools that they can use immediately,” he says, “but like the proverbial bicycle, it always takes a bit of riding before you are proficient.”

“We would expect the learning journey to continue months or even years afterward.


Photo: Felix Burton / Flickr

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/for-the-better-executive-courses-in-change-management Sat, 18 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Becoming A More Efficient Project Manager]]> For many managers, project management can be tricky. Mid-level executives may find themselves unexpectedly thrust into running projects, and not be adequately prepared for the challenges. In fact, even an otherwise experienced manager with an MBA might find himself a bit lost.

“Project management, in most business schools, isn't a big part of the curriculum, but it's a very important subject on the non-degree side,” says Dan Stotz, senior director of executive education at Georgia State University's J. Mack Robinson College of Business.

Indeed, some motivated project managers may gloss over a lot of the prep work, such as project planning, in order to get right down to business. Many times, Stotz says, “what happens is a project manager will agree to a deadline without doing the proper analysis to determine exactly how long it will take.”

“So they'll tell the CEO of the business, 'that can be done this year,'” when in practice, the project will actually take much longer.

This is where executive education programs in project management come in: they can provide a framework for planning and managing projects so that managers can efficiently execute them. Often, these courses attract people who already have some project management experience, but need to skill-up before jumping into a big project.

According to Jorit Nühs, who teaches project management at the University of Otago School of Business, “some come completely fresh into it, without having any project management experience, but most of them have had some kind of exposure through their current role.”

In his five-day course, students are introduced to a mix of case studies and guest speakers, so that they can understand some of the theory and practical applications.

Courses like this can also be relevant for more experienced project managers. George Merguerian, who teaches the three-day “The Art of Project Management - Tools and Techniques” at Erasmus University's Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), says that for those who already have a lot of project management experience under their belt, the course can “give them a structure,” which can be otherwise difficult to develop in the workplace.

“You can always do this without training, but it's inefficient,” Merguerian notes.

And as projects get more complicated, having a good knowledge of a project management framework can be indispensable, for those working in all kinds of industries. At Otago's most recent offering of the “Project Management” course, for example, “we had everything from lawyers to people from the port industry; IT, police, and even people from the event and sports management industries,” says Jorit Nühs.

In some respects, this diversity of industries represents a widening conception of what a “project” actually is. In the past, a project mostly meant building or developing something, but today it can mean organizational projects, such as the integration of social media into a company, or implementing new employee training methods, for example.

Previously “you might have expected just engineering companies to come to such courses,” says George Merguerian, “but now you get diverse industries coming, even banking, because they want their teams to be able to undertake improvement projects and change projects.”

However, while organizational projects are becoming more common, there are still executive education courses that focus strictly on technical project management. For example, MIT Sloan offers a two-day course called “Managing Complex Technical Projects,” which is designed for project engineers in industries such as automotive manufacturing and aerospace. Wisconsin School of Business also offers a two-day course in “Managing Complex Technical Projects” that appeals to engineers, architects, and scientists.

Executive courses in project management: the takeaways

One of the main benefits that can come out of an executive education course in project management is a better understanding of leadership. RSM's George Merguerian says that the “soft side of project management” is typically a challenge for project managers.

“Usually in projects, the technique is not so difficult,” he says. “You practice it in a structured way, you have a reason for doing things, there's a plan – you can learn all that.”

“The hard part is the people side. How do I get the team to devote their time to the project? How do I make the project interesting?”

Some courses in project management can also provide a concrete résumé-booster. For example, GSU Robinson's five-day “Certificate Program in Project Management” course provides participants with an actual certificate, which helps participants “to position themselves to get a promotion, or change careers, or change jobs,” according to Dan Stotz. Additionally, some students who complete the certificate go on to become certified “project management professionals” by taking a test (which the certificate course prepares them for).

But perhaps the most tangible benefit of a course in project management is career advancement. Of the people who took Otago's “Project Management” course last year, some have since received promotions, and according to Jorit Nühs, “they're now full-time project managers.”

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/becoming-a-more-efficient-project-manager Tue, 14 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[How Good Are Your Soft Skills?]]> If you're like many managers and executives, you've probably advanced your career by doing something really well. If you're an engineer, for example, you might design and build great products. If you're an accountant, you might be a number-crunching whiz.

But did you know that to be a successful leader, an understanding of the workings of the human brain might be just as important for your career as these other skills?

Take the example of giving negative feedback to colleagues. If you feel guilty about doing this, then you risk coming across “as extremely vague,” says Eva Klein from the University of Calgary's Haskayne Executive Education. 

“Or you may come across as harsh, because you want to get it over with,” says Klein.

Learning how to give feedback, lead teams, and negotiate are essential skills for managers. Sometimes referred to as “soft skills,” these are – at heart – people skills. Being able to effectively and confidently communicate with co-workers can mean a better workplace environment, better products, and a better business.

Experts often group these skills under the umbrella of  “emotional intelligence,” in that a good leader is aware of and sensitive to the emotional states of others. This understanding of what's going on in other peoples' brains – combined with empathy – can foster better working relationships.

But it can be extremely difficult to pick these skills up in the workplace. According to Glenda Hutchinson of the Melbourne Business School's Mt. Eliza Executive Education Center, executives “might get finance in the workplace, but the emotional component of the human mind is not something they get at work.”

Michael Devlin, associate dean of executive education at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management, says that the importance of these skills should not be underestimated.

“Leadership skills, management skills, people skills,” says Devlin, “are the absolute most important skills that any executive has to have, and they far outweigh the long-term importance of what are traditionally known as 'hard skills.'”

Devlin says many executives reach a similar conclusion during the middle of their careers, once they're asked to step up and lead teams. Accountants that have risen the ladder by being brilliant accountants, for example, may now be faced with leading other accountants – a skill they have never been taught.

Fortunately, executive education courses can help. Short, intensive workshops in the areas of “soft skills” or “emotional intelligence” can offer safe, constructive environments where managers can learn to hone these often unaccounted-for skills.

How executive courses in soft skills work

Eva Klein, who instructs courses in “Creating Effective Workplace Relationships,” and “Emotional Intelligence” at Haskayne, says that a combination of role-playing activities and background instruction in theory allows participants to begin to understand the basics of soft skill development.

Klein says that, in contrast to courses that focus on hard skills, soft skills courses “are not hugely intellectual, but much more practical,” in that they often consist of group activities where participants can safely explore many aspects of workplace dynamics.

Michael Devlin agrees. He describes Weatherhead's leadership development courses as more action-oriented than others.

“They're more interactive,” Devlin says. “The students aren't going to sit and listen for a day or a week; they're going to be very engaged participants in the learning process, and they're going to be active.”

In addition to interactivity, many courses in soft skills leverage insights from psychology and other behavior-oriented fields so that participants can get a more objective view of how people tend to respond in the workplace environment.

According to Mt. Eliza's Glenda Hutchinson, in a typical three-day leadership development course, participants generally learn about a good deal of theory in neuroscience to better understand how events can trigger different responses in different people. They can then put this understanding to use through practice-oriented activities.

Courses in soft skills can help people across a wide variety of industries and career capacities. Although many leadership programs are designed for middle- and senior- level managers, soft skill courses can help people at most career levels. Haskayne's Eva Klein notes that she also teaches an MBA course in “Competitive Advantage Through People,” which is very popular.

But for many people, just one short class or elective may not be enough. For these people, many executive education institutions offer certificate-level programs that combine a number of stackable courses. Weatherhead, for instance, offers certificates like “The Emotional Intelligent Leader” or “Coaching” that include a variety of course offerings for those needing additional help in these areas.

In the end, leadership and other soft skills can add lasting value to an executive's career. Glenda Hutchinson says that the biggest takeaways that people gain from courses in soft skills are “self-management and self-awareness,” and that often, participants leave with a new-found sense of reflection. But she says that, due to their self-reflective nature, these courses can be tiring as well.

Michael Devlin would agree with that.

“Yeah, they're hard. They're every bit as hard as acquiring the hard skills, if not harder,” says Devlin. “But they can be learned.”

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/how-good-are-your-soft-skills Sun, 12 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Putting a Value on Executive Education]]> For managers and executives, the idea of executive education can be daunting. Especially in times of budget cuts and payroll furloughs, spending time and money on education may not seem like a good investment.

However, executive education can provide substantial value, including specific skill development and career leverage, which can help you climb the corporate ladder or even land a new job.

At the most concrete level, executive education can help participants gain specific knowledge that's important to their career. Especially for managers on their way up the ladder, the short, intense nature of most executive courses allows them to efficiently upgrade or fill in gaps in their skillset.

“Say I'm head of marketing,” says Bülent Gögdün, director of open enrollment programs at ESMT in Berlin, “and suddenly I have to lead a business unit. So, I have to understand finance, I have to understand strategy.”

In other words, these are skills that a fast-tracked, specialized manager may not have developed yet. According to John Algar, director of open programs at the Cranfield University School of Management, this is a real challenge in today's workplace.

“Because of downsizing, rightsizing, and all those other things, people only have time to keep doing what they're doing,” says Algar. “You need a space for people to just stop and think.”

Indeed, executive education courses and workshops can provide a learning environment where participants can focus and safely identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Carolyn Campbell, associate dean of executive education at the Alberta School of Business, calls this aspect of executive education “invaluable” – the confidentiality of the classroom provides a space where participants can open up and discuss topics that they would not be able to address under normal circumstances.

ESMT's Bülent Gögdün goes further, saying that this kind of learning environment can provide high-level perspective that is almost impossible to find in everyday business.

“Unfortunately, because of the heavy workload, people deal with all kinds of day-to-day business,” Gögdün says. “There's too little time for reflection - really looking at what's going on in your company, and asking, 'Are we still on the right track?'”

There's also value in networking. Executive education cohorts are usually made up of managers from a variety of industries. This leads to a dynamic interplay where participants can share their own experiences and learn about how challenges are dealt with in a variety of different environments.

For example, Carolyn Campbell says that in Alberta's governance courses, participants come not only from various levels of government, but also from banks, nonprofit organizations, and even oil and gas firms. These participants interact in a variety of ways.

“You're getting to know each other,” Campbell says. “You're seeing the styles, you're getting examples from peoples' work, and hopefully learning how to apply them into your own workplace.”

Cranfield's John Algar says that this collaborative aspect of executive education can be valuable for participants' companies. They “get lots of different views on how to solve and fix problems – so their companies, when they go back, actually benefit from essentially free consultancy.”

Executive education: a résumé booster?

So, given the range of value that executive education can provide, can participants use the courses as leverage to get new jobs or switch careers? Cranfield's John Algar (who also serves as a non-executive director for several companies) says that executive education, if it's provided by a reputable university, can indeed be valuable on a résumé.

“I interview a lot of people,” says Algar. “When I see LBS, Cranfield, INSEAD, IMD, Harvard, Duke, etc., on someone's CV, I know this person has put some thought into it. That to me as a hirer is quite important.”

According to ESMT's Gögdün, the résumé benefit depends on the comprehensiveness of the program. While short, intense classes may be good to build specific skills, he says they might not play a substantial role on a participant's CV. However, longer general management programs can help with and, in some cases, actually encourage, career changes.

“Since people are outside of their businesses for longer periods of time, I think that people, almost automatically, start thinking about their careers and about their value in the marketplace,” says Gögdün.  “Other companies might see that as a quite interesting investment.”

Likewise, Alberta's Carolyn Campbell says that a longer course, especially those where a certificate is involved, can help give a concrete boost to a participant's career profile.

“I firmly believe that a certificate from a university is something that is of benefit to an individual,” says Campbell. “One of the things that we have in place for many of our programs is that they give you credits toward an MBA...That's a very credible thing to put on your résumé.”

But in the end, the self-fulfilling nature of executive education may be more valuable than developing a specific skill or having another qualification on your CV.  Bülent Gögdün says that participants exit his executive education programs with boosted self-confidence. And without that sense of “I can do it,” the career ladder inevitably becomes even harder to climb.

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/putting-a-value-on-executive-education Fri, 10 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[What Managers Need to Know about Finance]]> Are you finding yourself trapped in a web of numbers, balance sheets, and other financial reports? Are you trying to pitch a new product, but can’t explain exactly why it would make sense financially? Well, you’re not alone.

Many executives from a range of backgrounds don’t completely grasp finance, says Lou Centini, who directs executive education programs at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

“It doesn't matter where they are,” says Centini. “What matters is they don't understand the stuff, and they need to.”

Fortunately, there are executive education courses and seminars that can help these executives polish their financial skills so that they can better interact with complex financial information. Most of these courses last just a couple of days, and quickly provide a solid quantitative background for participants to understand the basics of finance.

Whether they admit it or not, many executives struggle with the basics. Even the fundamental terminology can be problematic, says Chuck Krueger, who has taught the “Finance & Accounting for the Nonfinancial Executive” seminar at the Wisconsin School of Business Executive Education since 1983.

Krueger says that he conveys the meaning of financial terminology not by giving the definition and having participants memorize it, but by framing it in the context of business.

“We introduce the terminology as it relates to the material, rather than just define it,” says Krueger.

Likewise, many courses employ real-world case studies to illustrate financial concepts to demonstrate the material’s relevance and usefulness.

Lou Centini says Darden’s “Financial Management for Non-Financial Managers” regularly uses current-year financial reports from well-known companies like Pepsi to illuminate how a company’s finances can be analyzed to illustrate internal strategy and decision-making. The thinking is that this kind of reality-based teaching can have a relevance that pure theory might lack.

“We are not trying to teach people to be accountants,” Centini says, “What we're trying to emphasize is the application and understanding of financial information to then make good business decisions.”

Chuck Krueger says that because his classes are generally very diverse in terms of participant backgrounds, he takes advantage of group dynamics to illustrate complex concepts.

“People often discuss their own challenges,” Krueger says, “and they find that more often than not, other people are running into the same issues.”

According to Lou Centini, this group connection is a very valuable aspect of financial courses for non-financial executives, in that they provide a neutral ground where managers can safely admit that they don’t know something.

“If you're a vice president of sales, for example, you're not going to admit inside your company that, ‘Gee, I really don't know how to read this financial statement,’ or ‘if I make this decision I don't know what impact it will have on the financials,’” says Centini.

Speaking the language of finance

For many executives, a lasting value of taking these courses is that they are able to engage more effectively with financial people in their own firms.According to Mark Kizilos, assistant dean for executive education at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, mid- and high-level executives who rely on financial information from their advisors or other employees are able to better analyze information and more effectively make decisions.

“That's the primary outcome people are looking for in these programs,” says Kizilos, “the ability to understand the basic use of financial information, and to be able to speak the language.”

Chuck Krueger agrees. He says what seminar participants come away with “are general tools that they can use to understand important aspects of their businesses, like P&Ls and balance sheets.”

Acquiring or sharpening this toolkit appeals to managers and executives of all kinds; not just the unseasoned. 

“We’re getting people from boards of directors” taking this course, Krueger says, “they want to know exactly what’s going on in their businesses.”

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/what-managers-need-to-know-about-finance Wed, 08 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Thinking Outside the Box: Strategic Innovation]]> When many people think of innovation, they think about creating new products or systems that weren’t there before, or “something out of nothing.” 

Strategic innovation is similar. It considers new ways of doing things, but in the context of a wider system, like a business. By implementing strategic innovation, executives can put their business’ future in a wider perspective, reflecting on new opportunities and how to encourage new solutions to take advantage of those opportunities. They can begin thinking about issues like how to modify supply chains to take advantage of new efficiencies, or how to modify an existing product in order to tap into a new market.
 
However, strategic innovation is often risky. Take Canon’s move in the 1970s to begin marketing photocopiers to home offices and small businesses. This shift away from solely corporate clients posed technological challenges (could Canon produce photocopiers at a much lower cost?) and huge overall risk (would people really want loud, complicated machines in their home offices?). Despite the risk, Canon pushed ahead, and became hugely successful in this market space.

Can innovation be taught?

The tricky part about any innovation is that it often requires thinking “outside the box,” that is, considering a new product or service external to the normal business context. Because strategic innovation necessarily implies challenges – risk, uncertainties across multiple levels, and poorly understood markets or systems – it requires thinking that might be nonlinear and counterintuitive. 
 
This kind of thinking is, by definition, hard to accomplish amidst the generally linear thinking involved in everyday, linear, business operations. Canon’s shift, for example, was in many ways a departure away from a very profitable business strategy, based mainly on assumptions about future markets.
 
Fortunately, this kind of thinking can be encouraged through a variety of executive education courses. Many courses put strategic innovation into perspective by helping executives understand current methods of encouraging innovative thinking, so that they can begin to develop plans to encourage innovation by leveraging resources and manpower. Executive training can also provide systems by which to think more holistically about a business, its resources, and its opportunities.
 
Perhaps most importantly, these courses can deliver an environment and structure away from the workplace where managers can think about strategic innovation without normal day-to-day considerations. After all, as many managers know, “thinking outside of the box” is difficult when most of your concerns are within that box.
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https://executivecourses.com/articles/thinking-outside-the-box-strategic-innovation Tue, 07 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Executive Courses in Teambuilding: Leading an All-Star Lineup]]> In today's business world, more and more work is being done in teams. From project managers to human resource executives, figuring out how to build and lead a team is integral to success.

“People are doing so much these days in teams, whether it's virtual or face-to-face, that they're really seeking better ways to work through team processes, so they can be more effective, efficient, and impactful in their team,” says Dawn Feldman, executive director of the Center for Executive and Professional Development at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

Managing teams does not come naturally to everyone. That's because working in teams can be much different than flying solo. Everything from allocating responsibilities to setting deadlines and budgeting can prove to be profoundly challenging when working in a team. An executive education program in teambuilding can help managers meet these challenges, and come away with a framework to create and lead a strong and efficient team.

The half-day “Leading Effective Team Processes” executive seminar at ASU - Carey helps team leaders and team members identify common problems that teams encounter – and learn to avoid them.

“The way that I teach teambuilding classes,” says program instructor Jennifer Nahrgang, “is to put [participants] in different situations where they can experience a breakdown in communication, or a lack of trust that's happening among team members.”

This approach lets participants to see how this kind of dynamic plays out, relate it to what happens in the workplace, and then analyze it so that it can be approached in a more productive manner in the future. Through this process, executives can pick up effective teambuilding strategies, such as managing conflict and creating better communication in a group.

Indeed, fostering communication within a group setting is a common trait of many teambuilding programs. According to Olga Sushina, manager of executive education programs at Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, interactivity is an integral component of the two-day “Leading a Team: Unleash Your Leadership Potential” program.

“It's not just 'I talk, you listen,” Sushina says, “it's 'I challenge, you react, and please discuss it.'”

Sushina notes that this type of environment encourages people who wouldn't normally interact to share ideas about teambuilding and leadership – which allows managers to draw on a wider range of viewpoints.

Laura Quinn, who oversees the four-day “Leading Teams for Impact” program at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), says that this course draws participants from a variety of industries, including government, pharmaceuticals, engineering, and manufacturing.

Some participants come from fairly high levels of management, already having some grasp of what it takes to be a good leader in an individual-based setting. They come to develop and improve their leadership skills in a team setting.

Additionally, Quinn says that many people who attend “Leading Teams for Impact” are from organizations that have recently been restructured.

“It's a lot of folks,” she says, “whose organizations have either been re-organized or have gone to a team environment, and they find that they feel a little short-changed on some skills in that respect.”

Some executive courses focus on teambuilding in specific contexts. Stanford, for example, offers a week-long course in “Managing Teams for Innovation and Success,” which helps team leaders foster creative thinking. IIM Bangalore offers a “Managing People in Software Projects” course. The University of Adelaide offers a two-day program in “Leading a Team for Positive Change” for those looking to manage teams focused on organizational change. Meanwhile there are also a number of programs devoted to improving management of sales teams.

A broad audience

W.P. Carey's “Leading Effective Team Processes” draws a variety of participants; not only team managers, but also people who have been recently promoted, team members, and even some small- and medium-sized business owners.

“So much of what people are doing in the workplace these days is team-based, that a team processes workshop is really interesting to a broad audience,” says Dawn Feldman.

Perhaps because of the wide range of participants, executive education programs in teambuilding draw on a variety of learning techniques. For example, Olga Sushina says that to help managers develop better teams, SKOLKOVO's programs leverage insights from sports.

“We've found that the great teachers of leadership are sports people, just because they know how to prepare to win,” she says. “If it's a football game, they have to communicate effectively before they even get to the stadium.”

In W.P. Carey's “Leading Effective Team Processes” participants are introduced to case studies, but many people come into the class with specific issues they'd like to tackle, which can be used as a starting point for discussion.

“Most people that you talk to have examples,” says Jennifer Nahrgang. “They might have experiences of 'this just happened in my work, what could we have done differently?'”

CCL's Laura Quinn agrees, but notes that participants don't always come into “Leading Teams for Impact” looking to remedy negative experiences.

“It's not always 'I can't get my team in line,'” says Quinn. “It's often 'my team is being tapped to do some pretty amazing things in my organization, and I want to make sure we get there.'”

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/teambuilding-courses-leading-an-all-star-lineup Sun, 05 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Healthcare: Once a Practice, Now a Business]]> Susan Moffatt-Bruce is a cardiothoracic surgeon at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center who studied medicine for nine and a half years to get where she is today.

But when the sweeping changes wrought by the Affordable Care Act hit the medical industry, she was stuck.

"None of those skills I needed to transform healthcare were part of my training," Moffatt-Bruce says. 

Since its passage in 2010, the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, has transformed many aspects of the American healthcare system. One change has been an increased impetus for physicians, nurses and healthcare administrators to run practices, hospitals and other institutions with an eye towards best business practices. 

But many physicians are in the same boat as Moffatt-Bruce: accomplished doctors with no head for business. 

"These folks have often got to to the top of their professions by being good physicians or good surgeons, and suddenly they're being asked to run complex organizations where the business model is changing,” says Simon Peck, associate dean at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. 

That's why schools like Weatherhead are reporting soaring interest in executive education programs that focus on healthcare. Weatherhead has seen so much interest generated by these industry changes that it developed a new healthcare-focused Executive MBA in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic.

Officials at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business say the school's EMBA has drawn an increasing number of healthcare professionals in the past five years, and that more and more hospitals are asking for custom healthcare programs where employees can learn to navigate this new business world. And the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management
also reports an increased interest from physicians in its EMBA and part-time MBA, so much so that the school is considering developing a physician-specific MBA. 

But business wasn't always an important aspect of the healthcare industry.

"Before, healthcare business was succeeding and moving forward without doing everything well. And that wasn't their fault, but other dimensions besides clinical care weren't necessarily done well," says Marty Schwalbe, managing director at Ohio - Fisher.
"Whereas one could have looked at it years ago as a social service that was provided by people who really cared about other people and their health and well-being, it's gotten a lot more complex."

Indeed, Obamacare has transformed many aspects of the American healthcare system. It afforded patients more control over health decisions and more rights in terms of dealing with insurance companies. It expanded access to preventative care, changed how physicians receive Medicare bonus payments, and encouraged the use of electronic medical records. It heralded the end of health insurance discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. 

These changes have affected nearly every aspect of doctors' practices, including how they operate, how they're compensated or reimbursed, what's expected of them in terms of patient experience, and how they do their work, Schwalbe says.

To navigate these changes, one of the most important skills that physicians must learn in these short executive education programs or longer EMBA programs is leadership. 

“We need to train physicians as managers, so that can command the respect of nurses, allied health professionals and other technicians,” says Steve Parente, associate dean of MBA programs at Carlson.

“It's best to do the whole MBA program," Parente says, but shorter programs like Carlson's Medical Industry Leadership Institute Certificate can help participants get the "education that they need to get them out of the myopic view that they've had of just managing their own practice.”

For Ohio State’s Moffatt-Bruce, the dawn of Obamacare meant a new leadership role. Prior to 2010, Moffatt-Bruce's duties revolved around clinical cases and research. But after Obamacare passed, her colleagues at Wexner realized they needed someone dedicated to implementing quality care. 

Moffatt-Bruce assumed a new role, Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer and Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, but she quickly realized she needed to develop more business skills. She started Fisher’s 12-month long Master of Business Operational Excellence in 2010, and this year enrolled in the school's EMBA program.

She says her education has taught her financial acumen, organizational skills and process improvement skills. 

"These are focused training efforts that are absolutely key and give us skills that we do not garner during any of our basic science or medical training," Moffatt-Bruce says. 

Carlson’s Parente says he sees students at his school who are also interested in learning about strategy, marketing, and communication to consumers—skills that are also not taught in medical school. 

Part of the motivation for this business training is to further physicians' medical practices. 

“Physicians who come into the executive education program realize tomorrow isn't going to be at all like yesterday, and that they need to be out in front,” Schwalbe says. “They need business expertise and education in order to have them take on that administrative role and to help guide the physicians' group forward." 

But although physicians may want to improve their business acumen in order to improve their practices, there's also another distinct advantage to physicians developing business savvy: finding better opportunities and deals for their patients. 

“There are gaps in care that could cause more expensive care because people need more complex treatment, especially the elderly,” Parente says. “People with diabetes, for example, could have more complex care management. The short courses could be really helpful in learning to get as much out of the system as we can."


Image: "A "refusal of treatment" form from one of our ambulance services" by Jacob Windham from Mobile, USA / Creative Commons (cropped)

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/once-a-practice-now-a-business Sat, 04 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[The Novelty of Teaching Entrepreneurship]]>

Until ten years ago, the idea of an executive education program in entrepreneurship was practically an oxymoron.

Schools focused their executive education programs on large or medium-sized, well-established companies. Programs that were aimed at smaller organizations were usually branded as innovation or small business programs—but these programs did little more than repackage material designed for larger companies.

But now, everything has changed.

Thanks to the 2008 recession and an emerging entrepreneurial spirit in many places around the world, more and more schools are offering executive education programs specifically targeted at entrepreneurs. Schools like Boston University's Questrom School of Business offer global entrepreneurship programs to students from all over the world. Babson College offers a short Entrepreneur Boot Camp, which attracts 500 students from all over the world every summer, as well as classes in subjects such as “Driving Economic Growth through Entrepreneurship Ecosystems.” Harvard University offers short classes in running family businesses, seeing short businesses through their life cycles, and launching new ventures. 

Officials say these courses appeal to entrepreneurs in various stages of business development. One of the main functions of an executive education program in entrepreneurship is helping students figure out whether they can handle the risk and uncertainty inherent in the entrepreneur's lifestyle. 

“It's important to have programs where people can self-diagnose: ‘do I have the stomach to be an entrepreneur?’” says Jonathan Lehrich, Associate Dean of Executive Education at Boston University.

“Some people don't. They want to work for the Man. They like having health benefits.” 

But for students who are committed to making a go of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, entrepreneurship programs can help them take their brilliant idea and turn it into a viable business. 

“We help them learn the skills to look for opportunity, to create opportunity, to take it from more than just an idea. How do you grow it by thoroughly understanding the marketplace?” says Elaine Eisenman, dean of executive education at Babson College.

Lehrich says that this is an essential part of any entrepreneur's education. A potential entrepreneur can hatch a genius business concept, but if he or she doesn't know how to take that idea into the business world, it will fail before it even starts. 

“Many great ideas have failed in the field of dreams,” Lehrich says. “People need to get from 'I have a cool thing' to 'I have a thing people will buy.' People need to do the whole process of customer identification, customer research, being able to explain your idea to funders. These are the kinds of things scientists and engineers cooking up ideas in their room will never do.”

At Harvard Business School, the Owner/President Management program helps entrepreneurs implement change in new or growing businesses on a yearly basis, since the program is structured so it runs for three weeks every year for three years. 

“This can be of great value to an executive who wants to see the lessons of the classroom immediately applied to the day-to-day aspects of his or her business as that business evolves and grows,” according to a representative for Harvard Business School.

And Harvard's family business-focused programs are geared towards helping students who are preparing to take over existing family businesses and need some guidance for how to keep a small business growing and succeeding. 

But beyond helping individuals explore the entrepreneurial lifestyle and hone their business skills, these programs have a third function: fulfilling the goals of corporations or governments that want to inject an entrepreneurial spirit into their operations. 

Lehrich says BU commonly sees students from other countries whose governments are eager to craft a culture of entrepreneurship.   

“For example, we did a program with students from Norway and from South Korea in which the individuals are trying to build up their companies, but the funding is coming from the government, which is trying to build up its entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Lehrich says. 

Part of that eagerness comes from a cultural difference between a research hub like Boston, where entrepreneurs are encouraged and lauded, and other parts of the United States and world, where entrepreneurship can be regarded with suspicion. 

“There are a lot of parts of the world, in the US and outside, in which being an entrepreneur means you must have failed,” Lehrich says. “One of the reasons why places like Norway, South Korea, etc. are so eager to inject entrepreneurship is that they're afraid they have a culture where parents just want their kids to join big companies.” 

Babson frequently fields a different kind of request, according to Babson’s Eisenman. Since the recession, the school has developed programs in response to an increasing corporate reliance on entrepreneurial principles. 

“[Before the recession] our corporate clients would say that they didn't want people to learn entrepreneurial skills because they didn't want people to leave and compete,” Eisenman says. “In 2008, suddenly, corporations were coming to us and saying we notice entrepreneurs thrive in times of great hardship. Can you teach our employees skills to make our company survive?”

But although entrepreneurship executive education programs are increasingly specific to students' needs and the principles of entrepreneurship, Eisenman says she thinks many entrepreneurship programs could be even more comprehensive and focused. 

“More and more schools are adopting entrepreneurship programs, but here's the challenge,” Eisenman says. “Everyone is envious of start-ups, and so schools are offering entrepreneurship programs and courses, but not many schools are offering the full range of integrated curriculum around entrepreneurship.”

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/the-novelty-of-teaching-entrepreneurship Fri, 03 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[Putting Women to Work]]> It's no secret that women at work are one of the hallmarks of a successful economy. 

“When women succeed economically, countries become more stable,” says Debra Iles, dean of executive education at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.  “Their economic development is advanced.” 

That's why it's so important for women who hail from emerging markets to enter the workforce. According to the International Finance Corporation, there's a global credit gap of around $285 billion for women entrepreneurs, meaning there's a $285 billion difference between the level of credit desired for women entrepreneurs and the level of credit that they actually get. Goldman Sachs research shows that closing this gap in the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—and Next 11 countries—which include Turkey, South Korea, Mexico Indonesia and Nigeria—could increase income per capita by up to 12 percent by 2030. 

But lack of access to education is one of the main impediments to women participating in the workforce in those emerging markets. 

“In Europe, the education levels between women and men is almost in favor of women,” says Wem Naudé, dean professor at Maastricht School of Management (MSM) in the Netherlands. “That education inequality in Europe is not so much a factor anymore, while still in Africa that’s very much the case.”

That's why MSM and other schools around the world are offering executive education programs that target women business leaders and entrepreneurs from the developing world. MSM partners with 15 business schools in the developing world to offer its Women Entrepreneurship Program, a certificate program that explores how women's entrepreneurship leads to economic success, well as an MBA program in Egypt and entrepreneur courses in Tunisia and Morocco. 

Harvard's Kennedy School, which offers executive education programs to business leaders working in the public and non-profit sectors, offers a course called Women in Power: Leadership in a New World that helps women from all over the world advance to leadership positions; the Kennedy School is also one of the partner institutions of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women program, an initiative to provide women from countries around the world with business education and mentoring. 

And schools in BRIC markets such as the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) are offering programs that specifically target women entrepreneurs in their countries. CEIBS regularly offers a program called Women in Leadership, a short program that's designed to teach leadership and managerial skills to women entrepreneurs by tackling topics such as the glass ceiling, the psychology of gender and women's role in the global economy, while IIM-A offers a program called Enhancing Leadership Capacities and Potential Among Professional Women, where women learn leadership skills and examine social constructs of gender that might constrain their potential. 

The problems facing women entrepreneurs and business leaders in the developing world are many and varied, says Naudé. A large portion of women in developing countries are self-employed, far more than the number of self-employed men. Oftentimes these entrepreneurial ventures are essential to a family's well-being, and some women even run three or four enterprises at once. 

“This is very important in Africa, where there is very little social security,” Naudé says. Women "will start their own enterprises and need to survive.” He adds, “It’s both a good thing that we know [about these challenges] and it’s also disconcerting that the obstacles that women entrepreneurs still face seem to be quite strong.”

But as much as women in the developing world and emerging markets face a particular set of issues, officials also say that they often face the same set of problems as women from Europe or the United States. Harvard's Women in Power program attracts women from all over the world, including the United States, Belize, Australia, the Congo, Egypt, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan and Kenya. Iles says every year when she runs the program, she witnesses the same social process on the first day of class. 

“People from developed countries look around the room and say, ‘there are a bunch of people from developing countries here, I probably don't have much to learn from them,’” Iles says. “But they are amazed and astonished by how much we have to learn from each other, and that there are core issues that everyone has to deal with that are pretty much the same, even though the circumstances are quite different.” 

She says that the issues her students often face include balancing work and family; receiving encouragement to take on difficult tasks and to assume work responsibilities that may distract from family responsibilities; and gaining respect from the established power structure. 

Professor Neharika Vohra at IIM-A says she started the Enhancing Leadership Capacities and Potential Among Professional Women program 10 years ago because companies were not nominating women to attend her school's Leadership and Change Management executive education program.  

“We would make requests to companies saying, don’t you have senior women leaders that you want to send? But unfortunately there were very few women coming into the program,” Vohra says. 

Enhancing Leadership Capacities and Potential Among Professional Women teaches the same skills as the Leadership and Change Management program, but is targeted specifically at women. Vohra says she now teaches civil servants, entrepreneurs, doctors and bureaucrats about management, leadership skills, delegating and other foundations of the business world.

Most importantly, according to Vohra, the program gives students the courage and self-confidence to push ahead in their chosen fields. 

“Several of them write back to say they have either changed jobs because they have realized in their current organization they will not grow, so they must join another organization, or some have been given higher responsibilities,” Vohra says. 

Vohra says legally, companies in India must pay a fine if they do not have at least one woman on their board, but even so, many companies don't comply because they say they simply can't find a woman to assume a leadership position. That inequity is reflected in her classes. Although her women-specific program has become popular, she says of the 50 slots in her Leadership and Change Management program, only about four are occupied by women. 

“I really think there’s a very strong bias, even in who gets trained, who gets opportunities for training,” Vohra says. “This bias is possibly not even conscious.” 

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/putting-women-to-work Wed, 01 Jul 2020 00:00:00 +0200
<![CDATA[FT Publishes Executive Education Rankings for 2012]]> Each year, the stalwart of business education, the Financial Times, updates its rankings of executive education programs. This year, the rankings show that executive education is widening its global reach, and that business school brands continue to be important. Overall, 70 schools are ranked this year, up from 65 in 2011. For the overall rankings (which are based on the strengths of both a school's open enrollment and custom programs,) European schools once again dominate the top of the list: Spain's IESE takes the top spot, followed by HEC Paris and IMD. Harvard and Thunderbird are the only American schools in the top ten (ranked four and nine, respectively.) The rest of the top ten includes ESADE, the Center for Creative Leadership, Saïd (University of Oxford,) Brazil's Fundação Dom Cabral, and Insead.

The overall rankings are a combination of a business school's strengths in both its open enrollment course offerings and its customized programs. Since the focus of this site is open enrollment courses, we'll drill down into the big movers in the open enrollment rankings. The top ten in this list has seen a bit of a shake-up, although it remains very similar to last year. Switzerland's IMD has jumped three spots to take the top spot from IESE; and Harvard remains steady at number two. Thunderbird is ranked number three, while the the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business hangs on to spot number five. The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business has found itself at spot number six after a ten-spot jump from number sixteen. London Business School has fallen to number eight (after holding place six for two years straight;) and INSEAD has found itself in the open enrollment's top ten ranking for the first time this year, grabbing spot ten.

It's not entirely obvious from the top ten, but overall, the open enrollment list is fairly global, with almost 30 countries represented – including Korea (KAIST Business School at spot 28;) Nigeria (Lagos Business School, ranked 54;) and Argentina (IAE Business School, number 38.) Many programs also span borders through international partnerships: The Stockholm School of Economics, ranked 42 this year, has outlets in Latvia and Russia; while ESSEC Business School (ranked seven) is based in both France and Singapore.

Two schools have made their debuts in this year's open enrollment ranking: the National University of Singapore Business School, at number 64; and Canada's University of British Columbia: Sauder at number 61.

How the rankings work

For the rankings, the FT compiles data from two separate online surveys: one from the schools themselves and one for course participants. According to the FT, the participant survey makes up 80% of a school's overall ranking, and this year, approximately 6,300 participants responded. The results from these surveys inform a wide range of criteria used to rank the programs, including:

Course design: how well courses are designed, and how flexible they are in catering to different audiences.

Materials: the relevance and appropriateness of class materials, and how well they incorporate academic research and real-world relevance.

Aims achieved: how well the courses met the expectations of participants.

Participants: the quality of participant interaction; the appropriateness and mix of attendees.

Faculty diversity: the mix of faculty gender and nationality.

Revenue: how much income a particular school brought in over the course of the year.

Facilities: the overall quality of the facilities, including accommodation.

These rankings are certainly a valuable and rigorous measure of academic and institutional quality. However, it should be noted that rankings like this shouldn't be considered the end-all of executive education course selection. Often, potential participants find that the courses they need may not be found at one of the top ten schools. For example, if you're looking for a course specifically designed around social media, you might have to go down to IE Business School (ranked 24) to find the course “Social Media Management: Strategies and Practices for the New Social World.”

Geography is another big factor in school selection which can't be determined by rankings. Even though Spain-based IESE is ranked number four, an executive from San Francisco will most likely not be able to take a course there, if he can go to 11-ranked Stanford in Silicon Valley.

For more information about the Financial Times' executive education rankings, please see their coverage.

 

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https://executivecourses.com/articles/ft-publishes-executive-education-rankings-for-2012 Mon, 14 May 2012 00:00:00 +0200