IESE: Trained to Win in the Short Term
It is so easy for busy executives to neglect their own training, though now more than ever they need to broaden their skills to cope with dynamic, global markets. The IESE's Mike Rosenberg tells Jim Banks that the solution could lie in a new series of short, intense courses.
Busy executives with many constraints on their time may find training courses hard to fit into their schedules, yet it is essential they update their knowledge and skills as new challenges and opportunities emerge.
The complexity of managing business relationships over long distances and through conflicting time zones is growing, while the world's shifting economic patterns are creating opportunities in new markets.
To do their jobs effectively and keep on top of the latest trends, senior executives need to be able to add to their knowledge and skills quickly and in ways that enable them to positively impact their business.
IESE SHORT FOCUSED PROGRAMMES
Recognising this, IESE Business School at Spain's University of Navarra has developed a series of short focused programmes (SFP) that immerse executives in a specific subject area for an intense course over three and a half days.
IESE already runs successful long programmes, such as its respected MBA course, and provides custom training for individual companies. The development of SFP, however, is a major innovation.
Its SFP courses on how to do business in India and China were popular and successful, helping to prove the value of the training concept. The next focus is on Africa.
Mike Rosenberg, instructor of general management at the IESE, explains: 'Most business schools run courses on financial skills for non-financial executives, but very few have a course on doing business in Africa.'
'The SFP allows us to focus on a hot topic – a new idea – one in which executives can be immersed for a short time to concentrate on it with a group of interested people from different countries and companies.'
As well as courses focused on regional opportunities, the school also runs SFP courses on global strategies, which attract more senior attendees, and other key skills such as networking. The paradigm for personal interaction has changed and networking is no longer a matter of walking the floors, but instead involves managing complex, global relationships largely through email, conference calls and the occasional video link-up. The IESE's course aims to simplify the management of these relationships.
Rosenberg says: 'It aims to help executives understand how to get things done in such a crazy world.'
The success of SFP rests on constructing courses quickly – targeting important issues identified from the IESE's on-going research – and the commitment of the school's faculty and leading external experts invited to share their skills. So far, IESE has managed to achieve both the insight and the backing of the faculty, which has shown in the positive feedback from attendees.
Rosenberg observes: 'The world is changing faster and faster. People at managing director and vice-president level cannot keep track of everything, so they need this kind of training programme.'
'Our long programmes, including the MBA course, also need to be kept current as forces such as India and China emerge, so we have to be looking at these issues in any case.'
The concentrated learning time means that the form of training must vary, and collaborative group exercises become highly important. Learning is based on encouraging engagement through interaction, which helps to cement new knowledge in the minds of participants.
Established and up-and-coming executives need to ensure that they have broad skill bases, partly to understand their business beyond their specific functional background and partly to exploit new opportunities as they arise. Short, concentrated courses could be a vital ingredient in helping them achieve just that.