torstai 4. joulukuuta 2014

Confidence and learning

EMBA is a learning journey. It is not the beginning because EMBA students are already capable executives and experts when they decide to join to the program. Neither does the end of the program mean that learning would cease, essentially on the contrary. This is because most EMBA students write a thesis which points to the future development in their organization. This actually means that often EMBA report on its part invigorates learning also more widely in the organization because serious development is always a joint effort.

However suggesting real strategic development steps in anyone’s organization is not a simple task and we must ask that what is needed before one is able to propose strategic initiatives in her/his organization? You have to possess strong visionary capabilities, you sure need to have deep knowledge and understanding of you industry and/or field of operation, but you also have to own almost unwavering confidence. Therefore it is vital that EMBA journey hones and develops visionary capabilities, is heavy on knowledge side, but also aims to enhance confidence.

One might be tempted to ask, that does it really matter whether one feels confident or not? Well, it does seem to matter a lot, not only as a feel-good-factor but it appears to have serious consequences in everyday life. Feeling confident gives a necessary starting point and well needed courage to start to do new things, to try to change the way how organizations operate and not yield to those old mantras like: “this is the way things have been done before/always;  what if we fail; do not even try it will not work here; we cannot reach that level in our operations; no one is interested to create new things; etc. ”

Interestingly, Magnus Carlsen  24 year old world champion in chess tells in an interview with Charles Rose how he took a crucial step in his development. At some point in his career he just decided that he would start to trust to himself and have a confidence that he will succeed. At first, after this change to this new style of playing he lost some games. However, soon his skills reached the level of his confidence - please note this point: skills reached the level of confidence - and rest is recent history, he won the world championship at the age 22.

Well, in EMBA studies the name of the game in not chess but organizational development.  In chess, testing new ways of plying is probably rather easy and straight forward endeavor - although the game in itself is immensely difficult - it is nevertheless easy to test whether new strategies provide desired results ie wins on the chess board. The organizational reality does not limit itself into boundaries of chess game, hence in the realm of the organizational life is much more complex.

At their best EMBA studies offer a special way to learn to develop organization with the help of recent theoretical frameworks, students own thinking and continuous testing and analyzing. In fact this is exactly way many EMBA modules encourage and even demand students to test new ways of thinking and doing in their organizations. This all hones and creates visionary thinking, deepens knowledge but at the same time builds confidence. The message to student is clear, it is her/his task to analyze how their organizations operate and figure out whether their organizations could find new avenues to succeed.  What we are talking here is enhanced sense of ownership and unwavering confidence.

Once again we here in Avance have had a special pleasure, when we have had an opportunity to read EMBA reports and prepare statements for EMBA board.

The big picture is clear, many EMBA theses propose important new developments in different organizations. Those EMBA reports convince us that important elements in real strategic development are in place: vision, knowledge and yes, also unwavering confidence to propose new strategic development steps. 

We wish all the best success to everyone for your future development work.

Let the learning journey continue.



Ari Manninen
Avance Executive Education

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