Mar 18, 2021

Innovation for success in business schools: 5 predictions and 3 lessons from leading organizations

Teaching & training 5 min read

What examples of innovation, radical thinking, and game-changing new practices from top organizations can business schools leverage? What lies ahead in the future of business education? How are boundaries being pushed in terms of creativity in theory and practice?

We found out the answers to all these questions and more during a thought-provoking panel discussion on innovation for business education success, as part of the AMBA & BGA Festival of Excellence 2021. The discussion, chaired by our Head of Marketing for Teaching & Learning Solutions, Simone Hammer, was joined by four experts:

What lies ahead for business schools?

During an hour of lively discussion about the future of business education, there was a consensus that a significant shift has taken place over the past year. A shift that is bringing numerous opportunities but also challenges. Read below the five key predictions and three lessons for business schools that emerged from this insightful talk.

1. THE NEED TO ADAPT

To thrive in the education sector, business schools must adapt. Catalyzed by Covid-19 that accelerated digitalization, the competitive environment is significantly changing. According to Bodo Schlegelmilch (Chair, AMBA & BGA, and Marketing Professor, WU Vienna), business schools must shift their value proposition as ‘universities are not necessarily chosen (anymore) based on geography. They are based on brand, what they have to offer and where they are becomes a secondary issue.’ Another significant point was the need to adapt to fulfill student demands. Nowadays, students are coming from varied backgrounds, have a broader agenda and interests - such as customer social responsibility, technology or sustainability – and various career aspirations. Business schools’ programs will have to be tailored to the manifold outcomes desired by students.

2. A CHANGED CURRICULUM 

The curriculum must change to adapt to student demands, but also to ensure that schools are forming agile leaders that will stay ahead of the curve in this ever-changing, increasingly digital world. A key word that emerged was interdisciplinarity. Students need to acquire an exhaustive range of skills and abilities: business-related as a strong base, extensive technological awareness and effective soft skills. On this point, Bodo Schlegelmilch continues saying that cohorts must be trained to ‘become very good communicators, listeners and [are] able to integrate different disciplines, knowledge streams and also know when their own knowledge comes to an end (…) They’re tech-savvy, but they’ve also got that understanding of the broader implications of emerging technology as well.’

3. HUMAN CONNECTION IN THE DIGITAL WORLD

A third relevant point and challenge that surfaced was how to fulfil an inherent human need in an increasingly digital world: connection. Being able to foster meaningful relationships, enjoying quality collaboration, and networking are essential. Rob McCargow (Director of AI, Technology & Investments, PwC) is particularly concerned about the younger generation. He asserts that business schools have to ‘enable that ability to build social cohesion, social capital and don’t just immediately go too far down a digital track and forget about that essence of humanity.’ Additionally, he stresses the importance of teaching and translating soft skills across digital barriers.

4. THE AMPLIFIED ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY

What is the role of technology in business education? Technology should support learning outcomes. As Simone Hammer (Head of Marketing for Teaching & Learning Solutions, Barco) states:’ technology should really just assist and support actually everything that we are doing. It should be in the background, and we shouldn’t really be thinking about it. It should be natural and enforce engagement.’ The right technology will support and improve pedagogical needs, the learning experience and results, and open a wealth of untapped possibilities for business schools. These include data and analytics to assess teaching methods and optimize learning outcomes.

5. A HYBRID FUTURE

The panelists concurred that after a year like 2020, the future of work and of learning is hybrid, implying an ongoing mix of offline and online collaboration. While technology will play a more prominent role, it will not completely take over due to the natural human inclination towards authentic interaction. How to ensure quality teaching and working in a hybrid environment? Rob McCargow (Director of AI, Technology & Investments, PwC) affirms that ‘we have to substantially improve the physical environment they return to. It’s no longer sitting there staring at a laptop in a library all day or in an office environment alongside a thousand heads. And at the same time, we have to substantially improve this virtual environment that we live in at the moment.’

3 lessons from organizations

But what are the practices that our expert panelists advise business schools to implement, in order to thrive and educate prominent business leaders in the future presented above? What examples of best practices are organizations offering? Read our takeaways below: 

1. WORK ACROSS BOUNDARIES 

Business Schools should collaborate across departments, within their universities, and with other organizations, fostering partnerships with innovation hubs and startups for a broader business perspective. Further on, when asked how businesses can survive challenges in uncertain times when it is difficult to predict the future, Manisha Mistry (Head of Digital Culture, Rolls Royce), said that they could become more prepared ‘if they’re willing to collaborate and accept the areas of vulnerability they have and that others are better and can help them with it.’

2. ALLOW ROOM FOR FAILURE

Another lesson drawn from startups and innovative companies is related to the permission to fail. It is important to teach future leaders that failure is often part of the road towards success. Business schools should teach future leaders in what circumstances it is appropriate and how to manage it, as Frank Salzgeber (Head of Innovation & Venture,  ESA Space Solutions, European Space Agency) clarifies. Rob McCargow (Director of AI, Technology & Investments, PwC) concurs, emphasizing the importance of knowing when to fail, that being ‘in the earlier phases so you know there’s no position to fail in the big event’.

3. INNOVATE BASED ON YOUR GOALS

Innovation is a crucial area of improvement for business schools, but Manisha Mistry (Head of Digital Culture, Rolls Royce) pronounces that ’Innovation has to start from recognizing the need’. Innovation must be driven by goals, learners’ objectives and needs, not be a goal in itself. She adds that ‘it’s about recognizing how it [technology] augments and enhances what you do and seeing it as an enabler’. However, she states that ethics play an essential part as well: ensuring that technology is used in such a way that limits any unintended consequence, case in which it can become a detractor.

The need to adapt in an increasingly digital world, to collaborate beyond distance, industries and organizations, and to innovate, are all crucial endeavors and have become the core facets of all successful companies. Business schools must follow the example to ensure they thrive in an increasingly competitive world. 

The panel discussion was rich in learnings and inspiration from our experts and you can watch the full recorded version at your convenience, below.

Watch the entire panel discussion 

Barco WeConnect supports your innovation efforts

In an increasingly digital future, with student expectations more diverse than ever in terms of teaching delivery and curriculum, Barco weConnect can help you adapt to these new times and future-proof the strategy of your business school. Our software solution will enable you to teach and collaborate across boundaries and borders, to innovate based on your pedagogical goals and educate the leaders of tomorrow.

The tool offers a front row experience to all students, enabling fast and effective information acquirement. Students can share content, break out in working groups, vote in polls and respond in quizzes, enjoying an engaging, interactive experience, across any device. Additionally, user analytics help you adjust your pedagogical methods, optimize classes and consequently, enhance learning outcomes so your school can shape agile cohorts of tomorrow´s business leaders. 
 
Join one of our demo sessions or read more about how the Barco weConnect solution can enable successful learning experiences in your company.  
 

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