Executive education programs are comprehensive and wide-ranging. Everything from off-the-shelf programs focused on significant business challenges to made-to-order programs. Great faculty-people who can stimulate and invigorate executives-teach these programs. Executives go back to their firms with great recollections and ideas. They feel cherished by their company because the company has invested in them. Hurrah!
How can lessons from these involvements be applied to enhance business results? The answer lies in cultivating the relationship between the corporation and the university.
The first step is to tailor the executive education program with the university. To do this, the firm must have specific goals that the core curriculum can address. These goals could aim at specific business problems or performance. Class makeup is important in any made-to-order course designed for impact. Attendees must be responsible for that impact.
The firm will need an executive sponsor who can enunciate the goals and contribute to the curriculum architecture. Inherent in this design is the post-program application. Useful goals are measurable. Measure their state of achievement before and after the course to understand impact. When the core curriculum is designed around these goals, attendees then can be expected to conclude the program with a plan to apply the lessons. If at all possible, the executive sponsor should hear those plans and follow their progress.
Curriculum design must integrate scalable learning. If the lessons learned during the course are to generate operational results, those who attended the course must teach them to those who did not attend. This can be a challenge given time and location constraints. Scalability often necessitates innovative solutions such as interactive e-learning sessions where employees anywhere, anytime can partake in online sessions that deliver the key message to implement. Future programs for smaller teams targeting a specific problem can be launched through virtual white-board sessions with faculty. CDs also provide a useful medium to capture and share key sessions. Workbooks can be used to scale the plans.
Our universities include impressive thought leaders who spend their careers studying business challenges, pursuing solutions across industries. This talent can do far more than share their insights. If properly reinforced, they can channel their classroom work towards corporation-specific goals. This support includes pre-program preparation. Meeting with the faculty and educating them on the firm’s business and the goals is vital. Investor relations’ performances and annual reports are useful tools for this meeting. They cannot customize their teaching if they do not understand the business and the issues. Depending on the content necessitated, a non-disclosure agreement may be needed.
Faculty must also understand the attendees and their roles in the goal achievement. Once the faculty understands who does-what-where, they can effectively tailor discussions for individual and group needs. Knowledgeable faculty can also participate in study group discussions beyond the classroom and help create solutions. Also, sharing the attendees’ biographies or leadership profiles can give the faculty an understanding of their partners in this impact-focused learning journey.
The elements of a working partnership between a corporation and a university are the same ones we use for any partnership. Both parties must have an open working relationship with identified, measurable goals. Clear communication is imperative. Both parties must be focused on results and know the talent they have to achieve those results. Scalable solutions are indispensable. We approach business this way every day. Developing our key talent deserves nothing less in commitment or rigor.