In a world that is rapidly changing, learning should also represent the willingness and ability to unlearn what we already know.
We need to be constantly challenging our assumptions and beliefs about what is required to achieve impact because, as the world changes, what used to work in the past may no longer work. If we hold on to these assumptions and beliefs without questioning them, we will likely never open up the ability to learn about new approaches that may need to replace old approaches or transform these into evolution.
To remain a powerful empowerment instrument for the next decades, business schools need to confront the challenges business faces and orient their teaching and research accordingly.
The basic model for modern management education dates back to the late 1950s. It has been an adaptable, resilient model that has generally satisfied the needs of both students and their employers — in terms not only of courses but of the ideas generated through the research of business faculty. Without business schools, many of the management frameworks and concepts that we take for granted would not exist: from Michael Porter’s Five Forces, to the Nobel prize-winning work in asset pricing and Finance, to Clayton Christensen’s concept of Disruption, to Blue Ocean Strategy, or the now-debated concepts of agency theory.
The pace of change in business schools is far slower than in business, with the result that MBAs are increasingly less well prepared for the complex challenges of leading companies and collective enterprises in general, so, this means that the traditional business school model is looking dated.
That’s why we need a shift of paradigm regarding education and training:
Skills versus capabilities
When we recognize that the environment around us is rapidly changing, skills have a shorter and shorter life-span. While skills are still necessary for success, the focus should shift to cultivating the underlying capabilities that can accelerate learning so that new skills can be more rapidly acquired. These capabilities include curiosity, critical thinking, willingness to take risks, imagination, creativity, communication and relationships, and social and emotional mastery, basically, the most fundamental and core human skills.
If we develop these learning capabilities, we should be able to rapidly evolve our skill sets in ways that keep us ahead of the game.
The new paradigm requires us to challenge our conventional beliefs about learning, beliefs that were fostered in much more stable times. If we truly understand the new forms of learning that our rapidly changing world requires, we will need to be prepared to re-think all aspects of our organizations, including our strategies, operations and the ways we work and allocate our resources.
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Our method uses experiential learning at three levels: individual, team and organization.
Providing a safe environment with expert guidance while stimulating, productive and action-oriented experience helps teams and individuals grow, challenge themselves and expand skills in new ways.
Likewise, business simulations are powerful vehicles for creating a “learning lab” and exploring possibilities; they establish a context that helps participants see and experience an organization or process in a new way. Participants are able to make informed choices and analyze the implications and consequences of specific actions while sharing a common experience that models an aspect of their real business world.
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I cannot teach anyone anything. I can only make them think.