Can you imagine a new kind of innovative leadership for MBAs, one modeled in all phases of their graduate program? Classes where they learn, use, and track - real world problem solving tools for a new era? I'm convinced that each one of us can take small steps in the direction of growth wherever we stand, and that we can also significantly support others who do the same. Each one of these small steps count for a finer future we build together. They're rarely easy steps, sometimes lonely and likely will cost you a fortune along the way. Yet, together we can support one another to achieve the leadership change we all envision! That's still my belief after a lifetime of renewal in how adults learn and lead best. It's also why I support innovators here at the MIX, as well as in the field. None of us can do it alone, but together we're already moving forward.
On January 13th 2011, we launched my newly designed MBA leadership course, titled LEAD INNOVATION WITH THE BRAIN IN MIND. The leadership class is based on the MITA manifesto for renewed leadership, and debuts at a local university. With it, we just posted a draft copy of accompanying text, on the university’s blackboard space for the class. By the second week,none had dropped, the class size grew, and expectation runs high.
The Mita Brainpowered Method of leading and learning starts with a question, bypasses lectures or talks, engages multiple intelligences, and ends on Feb 24th with a Celebration of Innovation. The celebration could be described as an interactive trade show of sorts. Participants invite from 3 to 5 guests to engage in their innovative initiative, and are scored by specific, negotiated criteria, to engage the wider community in excahnges about their unique discoveries.
In spite of its maiden voyage this week, in a revolutionary MBA leadership course, the Mita method comes from 30 years of killer work, numerous tests of its effectiveness in many countries. It brims over with research and input from diverse cultures, several highly successful Phds to demonstrate its proven strengths, and personal funds to affirm that sometimes it takes a costly commitment beyond reason, to mature innovative initiatives.
It also comes from amazing leaders like Dean David Martin and the business school faculty at highly respected St. John Fisher’s, Bittner School of Business, who invited the innovation course as a support to progressive leadership growth in the management department. Finally, it takes amazing collaborators like Dr. Robyn McMaster, who spent the last 15 years working overtime daily with me on Mita initiatives, in several countries, and across many population groups. Robyn’s amazing talent and faithfulness, contributed immensely to Mita’s current status, and to my own survival in the mind-bending process.
The goal will be to build a graduate level leadership roundtable, that draws on MBA students’ personal passion to lead, through brainpowered tools. We’ll model collaborative leadership at the helm, as I’ve shared facilitation of this course, with my senior VP, Dr. Robyn McMaster. Together we hope to engage leaders to foster policies that support passionate discovery, and to facilitate tone that sustains innovation.
Our own deep desire to lead MBA communities of passion, with curiosity and care shows, as this maiden voyage nears. We hope to offer even more practical ways to gather and facilitate novice leaders - through growth sessions that offer creative tools for passion driven leadership. The idea is to apply passion driven leadership skills as they built tools that capitalize on their own talents. Unlike Sir Ken's claim that education kills creativity, in the TED video below, each session will foster creative leaders who'll inspire original initiatives in their organizations, during this revolutionary course.
The problem is that traditional MBA leadership courses, sometimes prepare leaders for past eras, when in reality, organizational needs have shifted. From headship, where a single leader's in control, we plan to facilitate a community of leaders where passion leads innovation initiatives in a sort of mutual mentoring format.
1. Typical MBA leadership faculty tend to tell or deliver facts or theories, while neuro-discoveries show how people learn more by teaching others than by listening to lectures.
2. Traditional approaches in master level classes, teach learners how to critique for mistakes, while brainpowered tools for encouraging passion for leading, develop talent by collaborating solutions.
3. Graduate level courses tend to use the same approach to reach similar standards, while MBA students using brainpowered tools - develop quality differences based on interests and abilities.
4. In conventional MBA courses, leadership is seen within a paradigm that fosters talents at the top. While brainpowered approaches would ensure passion is developed through each learners’ unique mix of multiple intelligences.
5. Assessments that may not always be intelligence-fair, are completed in regular MBA leadership classes, while brainpowered tools would emphasize evidence based assessment, where students’ passion to lead becomes part of their course completion initiative.
An MBA leadership course seems like an ideal laboratory to investigate and cultivate a new model as a brainpowered innovative leadership approach. Neuro discoveries have opened new opportunities for leaders to harness more talent, encourage more genuine growth in all, and empower participants to carry innovative practices into their organizations.
In contrast to traditional MBA classes, leaders-in-training will become the solutions they hope to see in business. Their own passion will be invited to alter and improve the class as it moves along, since exit forms will be given for their feedback at the end of each session. Suggestions will then be incorporated into following classes.
They'll earn grades as awarded by a negotiated set of criteria for their innovative performances. Each leader will be invited to reconfigure a broken practice at work, into quality prototypes for passion-driven leading in the 21st Century. They'll cross isolated siloes to build brainpowered communities, across departments where they work.
Five key distinctives (all based on the MITA Brain Based Manifesto) will mark this course as distinctive from traditional MBA courses I’ve taught. These five include:
1. Students will question, apply and wonder about every topic, rather than listen to lectures – in a guided sort of mutual mentorship, as well as through original interviews with leaders they admire.
2. Leaders in training will target improvements to areas of weakness they identify at work. Rather than critique case studies they will attempt brainpowered solutions to real workplace problems.
3. MBA students will be given opportunity to negotiate all criteria used to assess their work. So the same criteria that guides the assignments, will also be used to evaluate these.
4. Students will be encouraged to collaborate and will be expected to engage several of their multiple intelligences as tools for their leadership initiatives.
5. A Brainpowered Celebration of Innovation will conclude the course with the student’s opportunity to engage the wider community in their newly designed leadership initiatives.
Increasingly, innovative communities call for a new kind of leader. If you agree, you’ll likely also agree that renewed leadership requires a new kind of MBA, with classes that are millennial friendly. One that few business schools currently offer.
Imagine MBAs who suddenly added innovative tactics for a new era to your organization. If well-equipped leaders facilitated cutting edge initiatives with more brain in mind. Your organization would know these new MBA leaders by sharply increased profitability and worker morale where they worked.
In a brain based program transformed graduates would come into your organization with current business plans patterned after highly successful local, national and global leaders, such as:
- Talent – Bill Conaty leads business talent management. Conaty raised the level of HR internationally, and convinced other business leaders to spot credibility of HR as an answer to unleashing talent as human capital.
- Finances – Jeffrey Sachs calls for a complete change in economic strategies for a crowed planet. In spite of the wonderful insights of President Obama, Sachs offers, we are still dealing economic lies and abuse in the back rooms of government and Wall Street.
- Curiosity - Ursula Burns leads Xerox from tired traditions that sagged in sales to position it back among top organizations, with the challenges that come from asking Where to from here? By stirring curiosity for answers in co-workers, Burns finds answers that many CEOs tend to miss.
- Innovation – George Lucas comes with creative insights for the future of cinema. Lucas never really wanted to make money, but passionately wanted to make art. In art you make an emotional and innovative connection to people. Innovation for Lucas, involves telling stories to the population in a meaningful and emotional way.
- Tone - Barak Obama solves complex problems with statesman-like tone that engages opposing views, while finding courage to speak out against cynicism. Only by using tone skills for tough times, can leaders facilitate innovative ideas from diverse angles so that all can both teach and learn from others who differ.
- Organization – Gary Hamel offers unique management innovation plans that would revolutionize MBAs. Hamel stated in the world business forum 2009, To succeed in the future, organizations are going to have to find ways of energizing people, so that they bring not only their skills, expertise and diligence to work, but they bring their passion and their initiative as well.
- Change – Ann Mulcahy takes charge and draws others into change. Mulcahy faced critics and cynics alike – to embrace changes that brought Xerox back from the brink of disaster and held it in archaic practices with exclusive privileges for a few leaders at its top. By launching innovative change, Xerox is back in the race as a strong global player.
Many old school skills taught in current MBA program, remind us that a new kind of leader is urgently needed. It won’t be easy to accomplish in some current campuses, nor is it a task for the faint hearted. Yet the urgent need for a new kind of leader, compels us to rethink how we can develop highly effective business leaders for a new era.
Could reconfigured MBAs carry our business world back from rags of broken banks back to riches of human achievement? Could leadership that models a new tone for tough times, for example, offer Wall Street’s answer to an innovative future for management? Perhaps more importantly, could a new breed of MBAs open main street’s surest segue to creative progress?
Imagine leaders like those here at MIX, who build brilliant inroads that reconnect humans to innovation through technology, management, social media, and institutional change. How so? Perhaps, leaders in each of our organizations would eventually begin to address the narrowing gates to resources, as we continue to propose initiatives with ROI. . Innovation today may appear tenaciously blocked by bureaucrats with power, or dismissed by politicians without vision of innovation’s new roles for humanity. In contrast, imagine the active place innovation would leap to within a facilitation style leadership, that came to business from cutting edge MBA programs, for instance, armed with innovation in your area.
New kind of Model Many support the idea that to create a new kind of leadership, requires a new kind of "what if...? business school model. When we piloted this brainpowered approach to 25 senior Executive MBAs we received an overwhelming response from every participant in class. We continue to value any insights or practical suggestions, from MIX leaders and others in our community.
The MBA leaders' main project will start with a two-footed question, such as "What if...? Students will engage their multiple intelligences as leadership tools, will work together and on their own to build innovative business components that solve complex issues at work.
Each student invites five leaders in the university or wider community to attend their final Celebration of Innovation. The brainpowered course will conclude with a negotiated set of criteria to guide their Celebration of Innovation, as an opportunity to model their innovations. New neuro-discoveries provide leadership tools, learners engages the wider business community, and "Where to from here?" questions trigger future investigations of their MBA work.
Technology as Central - Blackboard, offers student leaders an opportunity to organize their files – since innovative initiatives in the course are incremental, and all build toward a final improvement proposal for their workplace. In addition the students and faculty participate in asymmetrical discussion groups through Blackboard applications. Technology offers increasing tools for all MBA students in this course to respond to issues during class, ask questions as they work, build tools for their innovative initiatives, and network their ideas both to one another and to experts in the field.
They can even tweet their ideas to a hash tag team forum that is set up into Blackboard for their use during the sessions. Several of the students will take technology to the next level in their course assignments, while others will be less prone to move ideas into the digital arena, and will capitalize on additional intelligences to express their outcomes.
The text for the course is written only in draft form as yet, and while we’ve received an invitation already to submit, from a well respected publisher – we’d rather run through the course once to ensure we are doing all we can to challenge, engage and support and learn from, these students as talented leaders.
See Polly LaBarre's challenges for MBA programs, and reflect on ways innovative changes could occur.
See Celebration of Innovation which is like an innovation trade show of sorts where participants prepare innovations to exchange insights and celebrate inventions with other leaders.
See Gary Hamel's Imperious Institutions, Impotent Individuals
See blog Does Your Business Need More MBAs to identify the new kind of leader out there.
See Joanna Barsh video below to see how meaning unlocks innovative performance.