Top 5 trends in executive education for 2017

1. Delivery
This is the year that the science of deliverology will really start to take root. People in general are tired of promises, evasions, excuses and buck-passing. And since people make up society, business and government the zeitgeist is ‘make it happen and make it better’. This means that executive education will focus more on understanding systems, causes and reality. It will scrutinise and develop the art of making decisions that get results and it will focus on outcomes. It will have less patience for detailed and recursive a priori problem analysis, favoring instead learning-in-action and failing fast forwards in beta mode.

2. Purpose and depth
The politics of the last year and the rolling consciousness of global issues that affect us all are leading us to live in a paradox. On the one hand we engage energetically and self-interestedly in the activities of capitalism, while on the other hand, anxiously, increasingly, and with self-doubt, we question the consequences of these activities for our children and societies. Facing us, boiling up irrepressibly, are the uncomfortable asks – we wonder what it all means, what is a career, and why am I engaging in this work merry-go-round? Is this life itself or a caricature of living? So we search for greater meaning through work, and also that more of ourselves be allowed to be present at work. This farrago of contradictions has real sense and substance in it though, since we are asked to be more innovative, more engaged and more inclusive and conscious so that we can invent better solutions and better businesses. In this creative era, this means more of our selves and our beings needs to show up at work. As a result, executive education will respond with more reflection and clarity on the meaning of work, and a more explicit view of work as a secular contribution to a spiritual life.

3. Blended learning
As we experiment in blended lives and technology-enabled – and too often technology-disabled – living, so we evolve our understanding of what can be learned where, how and via which medium. Learning will happen in new ways, in new places, in new constructs that create a rich experience of multilevel and layered learning rather than being seated predominantly in workshop rooms and lecture theatres.

4. New configurations and partners, reinventing education
As the boundaries of what we call executive education are called into question and our categories collapse and blur, so will the possibilities for new configurations and partners emerge. What are business science and business art? Where is the organisation and indeed where and what is work now? What should we learn and why is that helpful? This imbroglio that executive education starts to find itself in opens sensational new possibilities for learning, learning that is human, open and also cloistered, that is kinaesthetic as well as static, that is intelligent and not merely intellectual. Our learning needs to be family-friendly too; what educator of merit creates learning that damages families and children?

5. Creative acumen
Where once the need for business acumen, shareholder value and profits drove productivity, the new business models depend equally on creative acumen. This blend of business and creative acumen, and all the personal and professional qualities they call for, is what will increasingly preoccupy the gifted educators in the executive education space. We need better value, better solutions and new thoughts and actions to create success – and surely that success is a better, fairer world driven by humane and human-centred business.

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