Customised Executive Learning – A Business Model for the 21st Century

Gert-Jan van Wijk

Gert-Jan van Wijk is Initiator at the world we work in.

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A new design for tailored executive education is emerging – Gert-Jan van Wijk and Jamie Anderson report on the Platform Model.

Traditionally, the world of customised executive education has been dominated by top-tier business schools that are generally positioned in the top twenty-fi ve of rankings such as the Financial Times and Business Week lists. More recently we have seen the emergence of a new customised executive education model – what can be termed the ‘Platform Model’ – that is being leveraged by some of the world’s largest corporations.

The Platform model for executive learning recognises the existence of what has become a two-sided network, entailing a triangular set of market relationships. On one side of this network are the individuals and fi rms that possess specialist skills and expertise, and on the other side are organisational clients seeking learning solutions. the need for these two groups—the network’s “sides”—to interact with each other effi ciently has created the opportunity for the emergence of intermediaries – what technology-based industries commonly call platform providers. the Platform embodies an architecture —a design for services, and infrastructure facilitating network users’ interactions—all at low delivered cost. Platform providers can be small, such as netherlands based ‘the world we work in’ or substantially bigger: such as antwerp management school, the Lorange Institute of Business, mannaz of Denmark and London-based Duke Ce.

The platform is a boundaryless organisation, which drives executive learning ROI, through customisation, real action learning assignments and teamwork of faculty who integrate the learning. these characteristics are not the exclusive domain of platform intermediaries, but we have witnessed that executive education buyers increasingly value these characteristics in their decisions to source executive learning. this development potentially creates a disruptive effect in the market, and will require top-tier business schools to re-evaluate their approach. the implications reach beyond the world of executive education to all professional services, such as consulting and advertising, where intelligent networks of independent people cocreating solutions with clients could be the future of competition.

The Platform Model

Platform intermediaries build client relationships by becoming trusted advisors, and act as open gateways to introduce corporations to a linked network of professionals. the platform model transforms executive education into executive learning: the architecture ensures that all design, development and delivery activities are aimed at the participants of the programme, rather than faculty teaching or facilitating the programme.

Program design within the platform ecosystem focuses on outcomes and learning processes rather than business/academic content. Furthermore the platform ensures that all programmes are sourced by faculty who are interested in the client’s business reality and show a willingness to collaborate with others to create an integrated programme. Finally all people involved realise that learning comes from facilitated action learning in which participants are given the concepts, tools and skills to apply in real business challenges.

For the full article, you can view the PDF or listen to the podcast.

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