Earlier this week I attended the Q&A event with IMD's new MBA program director, Ralf Boscheck. It was a pretty informative session, and I was able to get a sense of the things that are changing in the MBA program.
Ralf started the session talking about the things that will not change. IMD continues to stand behind the slogans "The skills to know, the confidence to act, the humility to lead" and "Real world, Real learning."
What that tells me is that IMD's personality and program objectives seem to be staying the same. IMD will continue developing students in the following ways: technical expertise/business acumen; understanding oneself and one's context; and building strong values, i.e. the ability to navigate moral dilemmas and ambiguity. There will still be a strong emphasis on self-awareness and leadership development. I'm happy the focus will stay the same.
What will change is the program structure. There is also a new effort to leverage IMD's strength as an executive education powerhouse. The idea is to enrich the education experience for the MBAs by providing more exposure to high level executives from the IMD network and executive program participants, and also promote more contact with external stakeholders.
The new program structure consists of three modules, instead of four. The three new modules are called "Business Fundamentals," which rings pretty similar to the existing module one, "In Context" which is where the International Consulting Project and Discovery Expedition will take place, and "Business Forefront" where students will be able to take their electives. A "Personal and Leadership Development" thread still runs throughout the whole year, and there is a new thread for "Career Services" running through the entire year as well, which just seems to put in the diagram something that was already in place.
I'm not 100% clear, but it looks like in the new format there will only be one International Consulting Project. Up until this year, MBAs did two ICPs, one focused on growth opportunities during module 2 and one focused on planning and implementing change in module 4. It got the impression that this change will open up more time for the "dealing with difficult situations" aspect of the program.
Three new "projects" will be introduced, with the intention of giving the MBAs greater opportunity to mix with the participants of the executive programs. I'm very excited about these:
- Module 1, "Executive Briefing" - students will have a chance analyze business issues (specifically, "industry challenges" and "country audits") and present their findings to executives and participants during "Orchestrating Winning Performance," one of IMD's executive courses.
- Module 2, "Navigating the Future" - students will receive external input on 15 global trends, and engage in a "deep dive" research project on the implications of these trends, then present a TED-type presentation to high level executives from IMD's network (Ralf mentioned CEOs of Fortune 500 companies as possible audience members). Talk about pressure!
- Module 3, "On movers, shakers, preachers & pragmatists" - There wasn't too much detail on what this project actually entails, but the idea is that students will focus on moral hazards and dilemmas, shaping and challenging their mindsets and personal directions to be better equipped to deal with difficult situations they will encounter as leaders in the future.
All in all I really like the sound of these changes. IMD's tight-knit network and solid executive education programs are some of the school's unique strenghts. The new program format seems like it will give the MBAs more of a chance to interact with executives and avoid being in too much of a "bubble" or a "silo" that is isolated from other parts of the school.