Skip to main content

The Future of Executive Education


A lot has happened since Fredrick Winslow Taylor stated in his monograph The Principle of Scientific Management , “the principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee”. For one, we have had two world wars, which essentially polarized the world into the divergent East-West dichotomy during which millions died protecting either viewpoint.

Capitalism is no longer what it used to be in the days of Andrew Carnegie. It softened, gained integrity and its pure state became offensive.  More so, corporate leaders nowadays defend and agitate for green initiatives despite the fact that they rarely have a foreseeable return on investment.  

While Taylorism failed when it was tried and tested in various companies, in the early 20th Century, due to its utopian expectations, it successfully became the precursor to a universe of current management theories whose epicenter is powered by the need to increase efficiency, reduce wastage and get more out of less.

Current management theories are no longer allowed to be theoretical, and have been pressured to empower businesses tackle 21st century business challenges.
From competitive pressures, to corporate governance concerns that stem from closer government scrutiny a clear leadership vacuum has arisen. Not because of lack of trying but because change has become fundamental to how we live in this new century.  Truth be told, change doesn't come naturally to humanity.

Executive Education is a vehicle that has essentially been used over the last half century, to articulate management theories to business executives. With the changes in the business environment, executive education has been seen to stumble along, and tried different approaches to remain relevant. While some programs by some acclaimed universities have discovered the true need of their clientele and are offering customized, highly specific programs that are strategic, collaborative and long-term in nature, we still find other executive programs that are driven by a one-size fits-all approach, not realizing that companies can really benefit from the research-based academically rigorous knowledge-building approach of universities in solving business challenges and concerns.

The reality is business leaders are expected to have relevant awareness and understanding on how to tackle the complexity of their businesses today. They need tools to empower them to systematically lead and deliver tangible business results.  

The executive education program of the future will be expected to be rooted in the very fabric of the businesses of the people it trains. It will be expected to be a consulting entity, in that it will go to the root cause of issues in the business, research on it collaboratively, and give recommendations that are implementable and measurable, then empower the business through awareness and rigorous training, that is practical and action based which will allow the participants to immediately apply what they have learned to real business problems.

And remember this has to be done in such a manner that reduces the cycle between one starting a program and one implementing the practical tools bestowed upon the participants. 

The programs have to allow people from across the world with different backgrounds to interact in order to enrich the educational experience.
This calls for better use of the Internet and cutting edge collaborative tools to enhance the learning experience.

For East Africa to move ahead, there is no doubt that universities have to step out of their comfort zone. They are called upon to be the drivers of research in commerce. Not to ape and regurgitate but to give solutions that will see African companies expand and compete with the multinationals of this world.

It’s my hope that in the near future we will have research centers in East Africa that easily rival the Harvards, INSEADs and Whartons of this world, that are driven to bring change, push for change and implement relevant change in business. 

I would like to see them embrace technology in such a way as to allow for better collaboration between companies in different countries through cost efficient participation in the learning process.

A time will eventually come when the world will look at the management theories developed in East Africa and aspire to adopt them. 


Published by Management Magazine

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Key Heist

We all had those days, weeks, and months when something snapped, and we went a bit crazy. This is one such story I kept in the recess of my mind. I was barely ten years old.   "The phone is really nice and shiny," I said, reaching up. It was placed on a high cupboard, in a corner right outside my parent's room. It was kept there so we could also receive calls since our parents were always away working.   Unlike the one before, a quaint rotary system, this one was white and had buttons. It looked so light caged and padlocked in a metal contraption that held it down, hiding the buttons.   Big Sis was standing on a chair beside me engrossed. Her focus was on the manacles holding the phone buttons out of access. With no social media back then, and with little interest in television, Big Sis was looking at her only source of entertainment. The brightest girl in Laikipia District, based on her last award, was stumped. My eyes moved from her to the phone and wondered wha

My Adorable Younger Sister

  There was a screeching wail, and a tiny alien appeared in my parent’s bedroom. I was three years old when my younger sister was born. I remember holding her and couldn’t wrap my hands all round, and nearly dropping her. Still, I insisted. “Momma let me carry her,” I said. The alien had these alert beautiful brown eyes that seemed to say, “wait till I can get my hands and legs moving, and you will see,” Those independent eyes burned through my small skull. Maybe, that’s me trying to simplify years of interacting with her. I was there when she first crawled, there when she staggered and then stood, and there when she walked. Then held my breath, remembering her burning eyes as I held her when she was younger. I forgot the reason she did all these in quick succession was to keep up with her inquisitive, troublesome older brother. For three years, she silently watched, listened, and soaked it all in. Now she trailed me everywhere. She would release a shrill if I dared leave h

THE QUEST FOR IDENTITY: MATATUS AND GRAFFITI IN KENYA

It was a cool Wednesday morning when President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya took a Matatu (never done before by a Kenyan President), from state house to the City Center; a route not covered by the public transport system that is widely used by the low and middle class in Kenya. In his speech a while later, he mentioned that he welcomed graffiti on Matatus, a total reversal of a previous government policy which had aimed to streamline the public transport system in Kenya. President Uhuru in the Matatu with Bob Colymore CEO Safaricom Matatu 'picks' President Uhuru Why had he made this statement? To understand this, I went back in time and looked at the checkered history of graffiti, and its effect on our collective psyche not just in Kenya, but also around the world.   The journey starts, many centuries ago in a prehistoric cave when a testosterone filled youth fresh from a hunt drew stick figures of men running after a buffalo, killing it and tha