Archive for March, 2014

Experiential-Learning-Chart-300x200Experiential learning, often referred to as “Learn by Doing”, focuses on hands on learning inside and outside the classroom.   Recently, Deans at two prominent business schools have emphasized the importance of experiential learning.

Nitin Nohria, Dean of the Harvard Business School, recently wrote an article entitled “What Business Schools Can Learn from the Medical Profession”.  He states:

“The clinical experience gained by fledgling doctors is an ideal example of how professional schools address the “knowing-doing gap.”  To give MBA students a dose of real-world experience, HBS is introducing its biggest curriculum change in nearly 90 years. Students in our Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development program will engage in practice-oriented activities throughout the year. This work has begun on campus, where students have been taking product development workshops and crafting investment pitches. But the program’s most ambitious aspect starts in January 2012, when HBS will send the entire first-year class—more than 900 students—abroad to developing markets, where they will work in teams of six with a multinational or a local company to develop a new product or service offering.

Our goal is not only to enhance the experience of our students but to improve management pedagogy. That is what HBS did with the case study method, which is now used universally. It’s time to do the same with managerial field training. Our commitment is to learn how the experience should be structured, what role the faculty should play, and what company support is required, in order to develop a method that other institutions can embrace.”

At the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Dean Alison Davis-Blake wrote about the virtues of experiential learning in the article ‘Learn by Doing Across the Globe’.

This is an exciting week at Ross as we kick off our 2014 MAP team projects. That means that more than 450 first-year MBAs are heading out to tackle real business challenges with nearly 90 companies and organizations in more than 20 different countries. They will spend seven weeks working side-by-side with some of the top practitioners in fields such as marketing, healthcare, manufacturing, and nonprofit management. Companies and organizations including Amazon, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Kraft, ICIC Bank, World Wildlife Fund, and many more around the world will put our teams to work on projects from new market entry to digital banking to supply chain strategy.

The MAP experience integrates and applies the lessons our students have learned in the classroom and is a hallmark of our focus on action-based learning.

Clearly experiential learning is an important emphasis in the world’s leading business schools.   What role does it play at your university?

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe


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skype-interviewI recently sat through video conference interviews for seven associate dean candidates.   Each candidate had a strong curriculum vitae and an effective cover letter.   Not surprisingly, few were effective with the online interview.    In my opinion, it is important to leave the search committee with a favorable impression by answering questions about strengths, motivations and fit.

Many folks have provided tips for successful video conference or phone interviews.   Here are the areas where I believe associate dean candidates need help with online interviews:

  1. Do not drone on. Academics tend to ramble and over-explain. Keep your answers short and to the point.   Summarize your answer when wrapping up the question.
  2. Use specific examples to validate your answer.   Academics tend to give conceptual answers.   This is okay – but reinforce the conceptual answer with a specific, concrete story.  The story should be memorable and reinforce the point you are trying to make.
  3. Be prepared.    Anticipate the questions.   Make sure that there is congruency between your curriculum vitae and your answers.
  4. Have a strategy.   Highlight what makes you distinctive.   During the phone interview stage, you are trying to separate yourself from ‘the pack’.   Review the job description.  Have a plan to highlight 2-3 characteristics & accomplishments that make you stand out from the rest.

Associate dean candidates, do yourself a favor and plan for the online interview.   Practice responding to the kinds of questions you will be asked.   See my lists of interview questions for the Associate Dean candidate:

  1. Academic Dean – Job Interview Questions
  2. Questions for the Associate Dean
  3. Academic Dean – Job Interview Questions (Part II)
  4. Interview Questions for the Associate Dean (Part III)

If you take the time to prepare, it will not be difficult to present yourself as a leading candidate.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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slide-1-638When seeking a Dean’s position, the candidate’s interactions with the search firm will have a significant impact on the search process.   Currently, a vast majority of dean positions are filled with the assistance of an executive search firm.   In my opinion, institutions of higher education that do not hire an executive search firm to fill executive positions are sending two signals to the academic marketplace: (1) as an institution we do not value this position enough to recruit the very best, and/or (2) we have an internal candidate hand-picked for the position and we are simply going through the motions of an external search.

Having been through dean and vice provost searches on both sides of the fence (search committee member and dean candidate), I can unequivocally say that the knowledge and professionalism that (most) search firms bring to the table is simply not found on the university campus.

To begin with, most faculty-led executive searches begin with the mind-set used when looking to hire a newly minted assistant professor.    This mind-set starts with an attitude of superiority and distrust.    Faculty committees, without proper coaching, often send all kinds of negative signals about the university and the position. I have experienced the following negative signals from university search committees (for deans and vice presidents) in searches unassisted by a search firm:

  1. After contacting two of the applicant’s references, not contacting the applicant for a five week time period and then inviting the applicant to campus as ‘the leading candidate’.   The applicant declined the visit.
  2. A  search committee conducting a video conference interview in which 2/3 of the search committee was absent and only one committee member spoke during the interview.
  3. A search process where a particular video conferencing technology was consistently used throughout the search process even though on each occasion it was used it failed.   This reflected very poorly on the institution.
  4. At a hotel interview with the search committee, one faculty member stated that the biggest problem with their institution was that 80% of the faculty were total disengaged from the university and did not bother to come into the office because most faculty were teaching only online classes.  No other faculty members bothered to correct or clarify this statement.    The applicant declined a campus visit.

Executive search firms are not a panacea.    However, a good search firm will effectively guide the search committee through the search process and minimize the negatives.

from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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