The EFMD business magazine

The EFMD business magazine

Executive development: Evolutionary revolution

Evolution, revolution? Whatever is happening, Jørgen Thorsell, Justin Bridge and Fiona Gardner describe big changes in the way we are developing executives.

Dramatic revolutions that happen with a “bang” are often less dangerous than evolutionary changes that creep in over time. Such incremental changes often go unnoticed – with catastrophic consequences.

Think of Kodak and the evolution of digital technology. Kodak did not recognise and adjust to the mortal danger digital cameras and mobile phones posed to its business until it was too late. In January 2012, after 131 years being regarded as one of the world’s most unbreakable companies, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

There is a parallel change, albeit somewhat less devastating , underway in executive education. In their article “Customised Executive Learning” in the January 2012 edition of Global Focus, Gert-Jan van Wijk and Jamie Anderson argued that new ways of developing executives are about to take over from the more traditional methods championed by business schools and academic institutions.

This is especially true for many advanced global corporations, which have for some time distinguished executive development from executive education and begun to favour the former as a means of enhancing business impact through executive learning.

What’s the difference?

While executive education is rooted in business schools’ classic methodology of teaching theoretical knowledge based on proprietary research, executive development has a behavioural focus and is aimed at improving the performance of managers, executives and their businesses regardless of the theories and teachers employed.

Corporations have long struggled with and complained about the task of transferring knowledge gained through executive education into meaningful actions and impact “on the job”. This is not because the knowledge is not valuable but because achieving significant, immediate and sustainable impact on the business is of even greater importance.

It is generally believed that the expense of gaining knowledge cannot be fully justified unless that knowledge is provided in the specific form and context required by the recipient to make a sustainable difference in his or her workplace.

For the full article, you can view the PDF.

Executive development: Evolutionary revolution

See more articles from Vol.06 Issue 03 – ’12.

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