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IMD’s new online programs: “action learning at its best”

IMD Corporate Learning Network Director discusses Global Leadership in the Cloud
April 2016

IMD has just launched eight online-based programs designed to bring the quality of its top-ranked face-to-face learning into the offices of executives worldwide.

Participants in IMD’s new Global Leadership in the Cloud programs engage in highly-personalized and interactive experiences that involve engaging videos, individual coaching and learning partnerships with peers. In addition, the courses give real feedback and recommendations from IMD in order to maximize the effectiveness of online learning.

The eight programs now offered are: Being InnovativeFinance Fundamentals for ExecutivesLearning LeadershipLeading Strategic InitiativesLeveraging Strategic PartnershipsMarketing ManagementPricing Excellence in Tough B2B Markets, and Strategic Thinking.

Paul Hunter is the Director of the Corporate Learning Network at IMD. He discusses IMD’s Global Leadership in the Cloud programs in an interview.

IMD is well known for world class face to face learning experiences – why did you decide to create online programs?

First and foremost, IMD’s decision to create a portfolio of 100% online programs came from our members. Many of the companies we work with have a new digital generation of managers up and coming in their organizations. The way these managers access and consume knowledge is fundamentally different to the managers that preceded them. Today’s global organizations leverage technology extensively to conduct their business and it was only a matter of time before the demand for virtual learning solutions became more insistent. Although IMD has been conducting blended learning for many years – in fact our Executive MBA program launched over 15 years ago was one of the pioneers in blended learning – 100% virtual learning was a new departure for us. The challenge we set ourselves was how to create a genuine 5 star IMD experience for our participants, without them having to physically come to our campus.

What makes IMD’s ‘Global Leadership in The Cloud’ (GLC) programs different from traditional online learning?

There are many factors underpinning IMD’s GLC programs which make them a unique digital learning experience for our participants. All our GLC programs have been designed with busy executives in mind. With increasingly multiple demands on their time, executives will only invest their most precious resource, time, if the online programs are engaging, and if participants see an immediate benefit – something they can apply instantly in their professional environment. Every activity that GLC participants have to undertake is rooted in their own business context – action learning at its best. Whilst the virtual group assignments enable participants to grapple with a concept and learn from the power of the IMD network, every individual assignment requires our participants to demonstrate in a very tangible and explicit manner how they have been able to apply this week’s learning in their business context. Every GLC participant has a personal coach who provides feedback, challenging them, guiding them and ensuring that the learning is applied learning that delivers a meaningful and measureable impact. During an eight week period participants have plenty of time to reflect, test out hypotheses in their real world laboratory and see for themselves the impact their learning is having. This is a great driver for them and is one of the reasons why more than 90% of our participants successfully complete their programs and become IMD alumni.

How do you design these GLC programs?

In the creation of any learning experience, virtual or otherwise, being crystal clear on the participants’ learning objectives is the place to start. Bloom’s taxonomy has long since suggested ways of sharpening objectives to avoid undesirable fluff such as ‘By the end of this program participants will be better strategic thinkers’. If this is true in the classroom, it is of paramount importance in the online arena. In a medium where learners crucially need to know upfront why they should invest their scarce time in spending more hours online rather than less, the deal needs to be clear from the get go. If we take for example the GLC ‘Learning Leadership,’ we cover areas such as motivating others, managing team dynamics, handing difficult conversations and building resilience. For each of these segments, the learning objectives and how they will be measured are clearly identified before any content pieces are created. At the start of this particular program we ask the participants to complete a 360 questionnaire seeking feedback from their colleagues, peers and boss. This enables them, in conjunction with their coach, to set personalized objectives for the learning journey ahead. I was asked before we launched this program whether I really thought leadership skills could be enhanced online. Based on feedback from our participants, the balance of faculty input – in this case Professor George Kohlreiser, former hostage negotiator and director of IMD’s High Performance Leadership program – virtual group work, buddy sessions to share personal challenges, self-reflection, individual action-learning assignments and personalized feedback from a dedicated coach provided a rich immersive learning experience that yielded demonstrable behavioural change during the course of the program.

Find out more about IMD’s Global Leadership in the Cloud programs.

Read the full interview here.