Resetting Executive Education

Organizations, today, are disrupted due to forces like technology. It is not only a disruptor but also an important tool for creating competitive advantage. It’s a facilitator in acceleration of innovations. New business and market making models facilitated by technology are today replacing the conventional ones. There is a factor of uncertainty that surrounds today’s job market. We have already seen that routine jobs are getting replaced by technology. Automation and artificial intelligence, embedded technologies and robots have replaced individuals. In many situations, skills acquired today will no longer be required in future. We are witnessing a shorter lifecycle of skills that a student acquires in graduation. The World Economic Forum 2016 report and FICCI 2016 Higher Education Summit report on the Future of Jobs and Skills have identified 20 skills that organizations would require by 2020. These skills are different from today’s skill sets. For example, skills of complex problem solving, emotional connect within the team and the markets, social networking, independent and yet collaborative functioning are some of the skills that organizations would demand by 2020. Obviously this implies that jobs that require intellect, human touch, decision making and strategizing will continue to exist, and also command a premium.

It is in this context that I believe that executive education models that have existed so far will cease to have any relevance. Scarcity of talent or skills needed by organizations to compete in the global market space restrains them from nominating their executives for long drawn programmes. From an individual’s point of view also, given the uncertainty surrounding him and his job, individual’s commitment to a long term programme is rapidly getting eroded. Again organizations face the difficulty of choice to either provide resources for talent development or market development. Large number of organizations are reducing their learning and development budgets. It is here that technology enabled executive education provides a silver lining to both organization and individual. Management institutes would have to invest in creating modular courses and pricing them in a manner that executives and organizations find attractive to subscribe. The enrolment numbers sharply shoot up when an existing programme is converted into a modular and technology-enabled one offering freedom of choice to participants.

Further, in today’s globalized world, knowledge and experience of diversity management gives an executive an advantage over others. This is significant because in most cases work teams are global. Understanding motivations and the nuances of communication in different cultures help in creating cohesive teams. It also helps in generating innovative ideas in the organizations. Executive programmes which focus on developing global knowledge are readily accepted. Some Business Schools today offer executive programs in partnership with other Business Schools around the world. This consortia approach provides participants an opportunity to learn in different environments. It also helps them to understand the economy and business practices in different markets. An alternative to this is international immersion modules which some Business Schools offer. Another skill relates to customer engagement in online and offline mode.

To conclude, Management Institutions and L & D managers need to appreciate that the past is dead in executive education. New paradigms and models in executive education are emerging and not necessarily only from management schools. MOOCs, corporate training centres/institutions and management school consortia are emerging as frontrunners in executive development. Existing and challenging times require an equally disruptive approach to management education design.