How to navigate the new landscape of executive education
The demand for high-quality leadership development has risen dramatically, leading to a shift in the way that executive education programs are delivered.
Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all, face-to-face leadership development programs that focused on professionals who were in or close to the C-suite. These have fallen as critiques of their approach have arisen that they were often too theoretical and that they lacked a practical focus.
Indeed, the rise of online learning platforms and mobile apps has made executive education programs more accessible, convenient, and flexible for professionals at all levels and from different industries and backgrounds. This allows for a rich exchange of experiences and knowledge, as well as the opportunity to network and build relationships with peers. Some executive education programs now incorporate peer-to-peer learning experiences, such as group projects or discussions, to enhance the transfer of learnings to the workplace. These collaborative experiences can also help to create a sense of community and support for participants, leading to a more impactful and enjoyable learning experience.
The result has been the democratization of learning, making it possible for diverse leaders to access quality executive education programs that are tailored to their individual needs and learning styles. This can improve the learning experience and increase the impact of the training, an especially important factor for tighter corporate budgets.
The coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated this trend, as companies recognize the value of investing in technology to improve the quality and effectiveness of their employees’ education and training. In fact, according to a pre-pandemic report from Deloitte, global spending on EdTech was expected to reach $252 billion by 2020. This was a significant increase from the $107 billion that was spent on EdTech in 2015 and, post-pandemic, can be expected to continue explosive growth, making it possible for companies to offer more engaging and effective programs. Altogether, it is a very different competitive landscape, with traditional players in the industry being joined by a host of new entrants, including EdTech start-ups and platform businesses.
One of the key shifts in the executive education landscape has been the increasing demand for customized, cohort-based programs that address a company’s specific needs. This has led to the emergence of innovative digital solutions, such as hybrid classrooms, extended reality hardware, and platforms for online learning journeys. Key to this shift is a focus on new approaches to program design, with a greater emphasis on social and experiential learning, individual journeys, and the transfer of learnings to the workplace. Rather than relying on post-program feedback surveys on the individual’s experience and learning, there is greater focus on business impact – that is, the return on investment with executive education for companies, which are also seen as co-creators rather than as buyers alone.
At ESMT Berlin, we have championed this evolution of executive education and, with research and practice in executive, can speak authoritatively about why and how the bar must be raised for executive education’s success.
Key takeaways for business leaders:
1. The executive education landscape has undergone significant changes over the past two decades, with a democratization of learning and a shift towards customized programs.
2. The rise of online learning platforms and mobile apps has made executive education programs more accessible and convenient for professionals of all levels.
3. The coronavirus pandemic has driven the adoption of technology in the virtual learning space, making it possible for companies to offer more engaging and effective programs.
4. A focus on new approaches to program design, with a greater emphasis on social and experiential learning, individual journeys, and the transfer of learnings to the workplace.
Ultimately, aided by a shift in the pedagogical approach and tools such as EdTech, executive education can increase its value to leader-learners and their companies. These next-level learning journeys can (and will) guide business growth and impact for years to come.
This article was originally published by Forbes on February 20, 2023, and republished with permission.