MIT Sloan: Tailored Executive Education
Companies urgently need to manage their human capital, attracting and retaining the best talent, and education has an increasingly pivotal role to play, Steven Eppinger, deputy dean and professor of management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, tells Charlotte Stoker.
With a shortage of talent a real issue for many employers, companies are increasingly focusing on talent management and the development of high-potential people within their organisation.
Steven Eppinger, deputy dean and professor of management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, believes: 'Education has a key role to play in implementing talent management strategies, especially when business schools collaborate closely with companies to ensure that the programmes they deliver have the maximum impact.'
Demand for customised executive education programmes has grown significantly as companies realise the strategic benefits they offer. Central to obtaining such benefits is the relationship between the business school and the client.
Eppinger says: 'Our approach is one of collaborative programme design. We engage clients in a conversation about the challenges they face and want us to address in the executive programme.'
What may start out as a general requirement is often further refined. For example, a company wanting to upgrade the management capability of its project leaders may discover that this involves improving project management, business and technical skills.
The cooperation between client and business school continues after the programme. Eppinger explains: 'Feedback is an ongoing process, ensuring that the programme remains relevant. We get feedback on every session on a daily basis. We also have a debrief conversation after each programme, and before running a programme again, we hold a curriculum review meeting.'
An essential part of executive education is making sure that the learning has the maximum impact in the participant's organisation. MIT Sloan has developed an action learning approach that involves following up classroom sessions with project activities. This works particularly well for programmes that are modular – participants are at the school for a week or two, go back to their jobs and then return to MIT Sloan again for another week or so.
Eppinger explains: 'Back in their jobs, the participants work on projects related to the executive education programme, actually applying in their project teams what we teach in the classroom. They present that back to the whole group in the next term and the senior management at end of the programme.'
IN TOUCH WITH CURRENT CONCERNS
Through the school's relationship with client companies, Eppinger is well placed to identify what issues are troubling senior executives at the moment.
One issue is business strategy – there are always strategic questions. Another is the imperative of globalisation, about how to become more global. A third concerns how to become more innovative and achieve greater impact through innovation. Finally, there is the perennial issue of leadership, thinking about what characteristics leaders should have, and upgrading leadership skills. MIT Sloan offers programme content in all these areas.
Besides the strong growth in demand for custom programmes, globalisation means increased demand in places such as China and India – markets that MIT Sloan serves through partnerships, as it does in Europe through its relationship with IMD.
Unfortunately, there has been no significant increase in the number of women attending MIT Sloan's executive education programmes, something Eppinger would like to see. There is, however, an increase in the number of younger managers on programmes related to entrepreneurship.
While executive education plays an essential part in the talent management strategies of organisations, the business school benefits from its client relationships too.
Eppinger says: 'What we teach and write books and articles about today, becomes standard in a few years. Our faculty needs to work with companies, do new research, develop new expertise and content, and ensure that we stay relevant.'
'Participants return to work, apply their learning and provide feedback. That is a direct connection between our research, our faculty and teaching, and current industry problems that benefits both MIT Sloan and our clients.'
MIT Sloan School of Management - Executive Education - Innovation @ Work
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