Investment in Knowledge Pays the Best Interest, Benjamin Franklin once said. Are Industry conferences and corporate executive education interventions effective? Is there any value of meetings and events in terms of being applied to benefit the organization? And to what extent?
Professor DiVanna teaches courses in Finance and Banking at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business, and also in Cambridge University. He considers that executive education is an opportunity to leverage the knowledge and experience of people in a bi-directional dialogue. More about short Executive Education programs here.
According to the professor, the traditional value proposition for a meeting or event used to be simple: give and get. Speakers gave ideas and concepts, while audiences were the recipients of the knowledge. Today, corporations are eager to justify the costs associated with the events thus the value proposition of meetings takes on a new dimension. The new formula for value is give – get – use. Senior executives are questioning the extent to which the knowledge exchanged is actually being applied to benefit the organization. Therefore, it is important to all education providers to demonstrate clearly where this benefit may lie.
Simply, executive education interventions are a moment in time where the collective intelligence of an organization is assembled. Yet, most events of this type are still one-way exchanges. Attendees are looking for ways to apply what they have just learned to their corporate objectives. The underlying value proposition is to make the learning experience relative to the organization’s relative output. Therefore, an event must fulfill a value framework where the benefit is assessed in terms of the qualities of being memorable, credible, demonstrable, actionable, and measurable.
The memorable aspect of the learning event is the wow-factor (‘I learned something I did not know’), which challenges preconceptions and inspires further thought. Credibility is transmitted through storytelling as an education relates past experiences to current opportunities and challenges. People learn when they can see or experience something for themselves; if a concept can be demonstrated in a relative context, people start to think of how to apply it to them. One of the most compelling aspects of an educational event is to create output by a group that is actionable. For example, a top 10 opportunities list, taking a SWOT analysis and assigning resources to capitalize on opportunities. An actionable output means that what was just learned can be readily applied to various aspects of the business, explicit operating groups, or specific individuals. Measurements can be linked to traditional key performance indicators and ROI calculations to enhance the overall value equation for event planners illustrated in the following figure:
It is critical to convey to learning and development planners that in today’s business climate, all events must contain two key drivers: an educational element (e.g. theory, best practice, case study, the content which will improve the skills, competencies and/or alter the behaviors of the employee) and a practical application of the newly acquired insight (e.g. tools, approaches, methods that will be deployed post-intervention). The key is to give attendees tools to apply what they have learned to existing opportunities and challenges they face on their job or across their organization. Every learning event should contain interactive activities that produce an output that can be applied to the current or future needs of the organization.
It is noteworthy that NU GSB offers the EMBA program that provides a unique learning environment for executive students by bringing together working professionals from diverse backgrounds. More about the EMBA program here.