Dr Martin Brigham PhD
Worldwide Academic Director at International Masters Program for Managers (IMPM)
It’s been another hectic week: meetings at the office and overseas trips, developing the company’s strategy for the next three years, monitoring key performance targets and numbers, and responding to a crisis in one part of the business. It’s moments like these that can make you feel like you’re struggling to keep your head above water.
Then, ping: another email. Apparently, it’s time you participated in an advanced senior management development programme. You say to yourself: “This is just what I need, I’ve been thinking about an advanced management course for some time now.”
You consider the benefits of a programme that can take you away from the day-to-day running of your organization, allowing you to focus on the latest global business trends and complete your management education to the highest level. But do you really have the time?
You think back to the last executive education course you attended. It was good, and you even picked up some helpful ideas in the classroom, but it focused on training and techniques without really providing you with new horizons for your business or breakthrough ideas for your way of thinking. You also remember wishing you had more time to interact with your peers on the programme. When it finished, you returned to the usual thorny business dilemmas that require your judgment and decision-making skills. A few days later, the training you had just received started to become a rather distant memory.
The International Masters Program for Managers (IMPM) has been reinvigorating organizations by transforming the development of their senior executives. Uniquely, for a senior executive development programme that can lead to a master’s degree, IMPM is based on a philosophy of co-creation. Founded by Professor Henry Mintzberg, one of the world’s most renowned management thinkers, the IMPM has been reinventing the way executives, senior leaders and entrepreneurs develop themselves and revitalize their teams and companies since 1996.
Drawing on the natural experiences of those participating, customizing each individual’s development to their specific role, company, and sector.
In fact, as a rule, half of the time spent in the classroom is designated to the senior managers themselves, allowing them to discuss what’s on their own agendas. This gives executives the opportunity to consider each of their organizations’ individual needs and challenges while giving them a forum to discuss new ways of approaching them. This ultimately ensures they get the most out of IMPM. The program is designed to create breakthrough insights for you and your company, we focus the programme around mindsets and on your business challenges. Participants develop enriched perspectives whilst acquiring new capabilities and the latest frameworks from 75 academic faculty.
We believe the world’s best executive education should transform individuals and develop companies at the same time. Because of this, we integrate personal, professional and organizational development into every aspect of the programme. Beyond the classroom, we blend the other components of the programme with the requirements and schedules of the managers that attend as much as possible. We also focus on the role of place (what is termed the Third Teacher) in senior executive learning and development. Each module occurs in the place most suited for that mindset. Additionally, learning in a specific place comprises innovative seating arrangements at the five business schools and extending the classroom to company visits and other relevant sites for management learning. This creates an environment rich in inquiry and dialogue, together with a strong sense of community. Academic faculty from around the globe come together with our participants, bringing a wealth of experience in a dynamic context for learning and development. In a bid to further encourage this type of environment, the programme is structured around mindsets and company challenges rather than business functions.
Specifically, mindsets are about different – yet connected – frames for seeing and experiencing the world. They synthesize and open up new ways of thinking and acting for individuals, organizations, and society. The continual interplay between experience and reflection, analysis, collaboration, action, and worldly mindsets lie at the heart of the IMPM approach. Knowing involves learning facts, concepts, principles. But the IMPM approach goes beyond a purely intellectual realm to phronesis or wise knowing.
This means integrating and encouraging the use of imagination and bringing the affective dimension of experience into management development. Combining intellect, imagination, and affect is the key to developing people because without felt experience and personal insight connected to intellectual understanding learning does not create an impetus for action.
This is why IMPM – composed of world-leading business schools in Europe, North America, East Asia, South Asia, and South America – develop senior executive practices as the interplay between art, craft, and science.
IMPM focuses on the specific experience of the senior executives in attendance, providing a great forum for them to learn from each other. That said, there’s something far more powerful about learning from your own experience, which remains surprisingly untapped in senior executive education. As Anglo-American poet T S Eliot wrote: “We had the experience but missed the meaning.”
With this in mind, we believe executive education should be about developing and advocating meaning and significance for wise judgment and action informed by reflective insight. Indeed, this is the basis of good management and sound business action in dynamic and uncertain times. Reflecting on one’s own experience and sharing it with one’s peers and faculty is the real key to executive learning and development. This has been our experience with more than 600 alumni over 20 years.
As part of our sustained focus on experience, we designed the IMPM programme on the assumption that no senior executive has ever been created in the classroom. What a classroom can do, however, is take peers with similar levels of senior management experience and leverage that alongside their natural inclination to drive necessary change and innovation through demonstrated skills of leadership.
It is our view that organizations are communities of human beings and not collections of human resources. Organizations work best when they are communities of committed people that work in cooperative relationships and under conditions of trust and respect. We also feature Henry Mintzberg’s aptly named theory of ‘community-ship’, which is built through senior executives engaging with their team members deeply, as opposed to having a heroic leadership style that cures all ailments. Ultimately, we believe we need development programmes that commit to developing today’s senior executives and their organizations.
Use work, more than making work
IMPM takes senior executives around the globe to become more worldly in five 1½ week modules over18 months at world-leading business schools. After this, participants can continue to complete a master’s degree in management at Lancaster University in the UK or McGill University in Canada in 6 months.
Each IMPM module focuses on a managerial mindset: Managing Self: the Reflective Mindset at Lancaster University; Managing Organisations: the Analytic Mindset at McGill University; Managing Relationships: the Collaborative Mindset at Yokohama University; Managing Change: the Action Mindset at FGV-EBAPE Rio; and Managing Context: the Worldly Mindset at IIM Bangalore. The program is ranked 1st for International Management by Best Masters North America 2018.
Remember the busy senior executive wishing they had time to go on a senior executive education programme? The last thing they need when taking time off for their development is to have even more work to do when they return to the business. This is why we “use work, more than making work”.
Senior executives these days are extremely busy people. The solution, therefore, is to use real-life work as a basis for learning, rather than create fictitious work to study. In other words, we draw on the natural experiences of those participating, customizing each individual’s development to their specific role, company, and sector for business impact.
If an executive development programme is to develop insight and innovation, shouldn’t its own design be insightful and innovative? This has been the vision of IMPM for more than 20 years, to challenge and transform the face of management and organizational development. Many executive programmes promise a boot camp to keep everyone very busy. What they seem to be forgetting, however, is that most executives these days live a real-life boot camp every day.
What they desperately need, on the other hand, is to pause, step back and reflect thoughtfully on their own experience and discuss what’s on each other’s agenda in order to drive both their practice of leading and their businesses to new levels. The message of our own experience is that there is nothing so powerful as engaged senior executives committed to developing themselves and their organizational communities.
A version of this article was originally published in the European CEO Magazine.