Executive Education

The modules that have been created for Executive Education are subsumed under the general topics of Creativity, Corporate Cultures, Decision Making and Persuasion. Most have been offered at the London School of Business, the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley and the Graduate School of Management, St. Petersburg State University. For more details on the individual modules, please choose from the list below.

1. Creativity Modules

1. The Creative Process

Central to the innovation process is the importance of generating good ideas. In this module, we use the theme of the value of the contrarian viewpoint. We start with an examination of the “habits of mind” whereby we make unconscious assumptions which limit our ability to solve problems or to think “out of the box”. This is illustrated by various short demonstrations and exercises followed by techniques for recognizing and breaking such habits of mind. We then move to the role of debate and the value of differing views for creativity in teams and use a brainstorming exercise with discussion about the balance between cohesion and creativity in corporate cultures.

Audience: Any level, but primarily emerging leaders and middle management

2. Lessons from Highly Creative Individuals

This is a module aimed at senior executives who are reassessing their lives and looking to the future. We draw heavily on my own research which includes 11-12 hours interview time with each of 5 Nobel laureates in Chemistry and Physics (including the inventor of the laser, the founder of the transuranium elements, etc) in which the elements of creativity take on a human face-for example, the importance of loving what you do and insisting on pursuing that love. These are stories of lives well led which have provided great joy for the individuals and great rewards for society.

Audience: Senior Executives

3. Leading Creative Individuals

This module concentrates on the personality and temperament of highly creative individuals, especially on their need for “meaning” and autonomy. The implications of these traits are then explored in the context of managing, or rather leading, these individuals. There are different prescriptions for how to use incentives (and what kind) and the kind of management style and “culture” that is needed. Signposts for how to “kill” creativity as opposed to nurturing it are provided. Illustrations from highly creative individuals are used to illustrate the traits and milieu in which they have thrived. The module also serves to illustrate the traits which, when emulated, can enhance creativity in everyone in the organization.

Audience: Middle and Senior Management

2. Corporate Cultures

1. Cults and Corporate Cultures

A comparison of highly profitable vs less profitable companies reveals quite different corporate cultures, including recruitment, socialization, incentives and mechanisms for creating cohesion. Each of the elements is connected to well researched principles of influence which have parallels in the ways in which cults manifest very persuasive holds on their members. Throughout the session, there is ample discussion of each of the elements and the final period is devoted to the both the positive outcomes and the unanticipated negative consequences of varying kinds of corporate cultures.

Audience: Middle and Senior Management

2. The Innovative Culture: Hot Groups

This module focuses on “hot groups”, those teams with energy and passion that often are highly creative–often found in successful “start ups” like Apple. How these groups achieve such passion and commitment with ensuing creativity is developed and discussed. We then move to a consideration of how one can maintain such creativity as a company matures or how one can instill it in an already mature company. The role of diversity of views and the permission (even welcoming) of dissent is developed with the difficulties of maintaining the balance between creativity and performance in organizations.

Audience: Middle and Senior Management

3. Cultures of Dissent and Innovation

This module focuses on the value of dissent for the detection of novel solutions and better decisions. This is a well researched area (and the faculty member has over 70 publications on this theme) demonstrating that dissent, even hen it is wrong, stimulates a search for more information as well as divergent thinking. The session deals with the difficulty of dissent, of being “different” and the problems it poses for the individual. It also deals with the complexities for the organization and the delicate balance between diversity and openness to dissenting views, on the one hand, and the need for cohesion and cooperation. Role playing and team exercises are used to illustrate the phenomena and its complexities in finding a balance between diversity of views and a welcoming of dissent with the need for cohesion and cooperation. Illustrations are taken from well known companies who have tried various mechanisms to achieve such a balance.

Audience: Middle and Senior Management

3. Decision Making

1. Decision Making in Teams

This module looks at how teams make decisions, for better or worse. We start by classic illustrations of truly foolish decisions by companies and by governmental bodies and detail why the decision making process was faulty. The tendency for a rush to judgment, for blindly agreeing with the majority or the leader are discussed and exemplified in a team exercise. Antidotes for these tendencies are then provided and discussed ending with a “blueprint” for how to achieve a group decision making process that tends to lead to correct or better solutions.

Audience: Most levels

2. Decision Making

In this module, various well researched judgmental “biases” are examined. Short exercises illustrate how our judgments are altered by the way in which the information is framed and by our own motivation to escalate commitment to a given course of action. A discussion and illustration of each of biases is then applied to business decisions, some of which have been disastrous. The enactment of these biases is then seen through a film which is analyzed for its pertinence to current business decision making.

Audience: Emerging Leaders and Middle Management

3. Team Decision Making: The Tradeoffs of Cohesion and Creativity

This module involves a discussion of the elements of good vs poor decision making in groups and deals specifically with the issues of cohesion and dissent. The benefits as well as problems associated with homogeneity and cohesion are illustrated by the phenomenon of groupthink well illustrated by decision making that led to the Challenger accident. Film footage is provided and discussed along with suggested antidotes to this phenomenon. The problems are further discussed in the context of the difficulty for people to voice concerns or provide alternative ideas. The value of such expressions –such “voice”– is then discussed in the context of both breaking groupthink but, more imporantly, as an impetus for generating multiple perspectives–exactly the elements that are needed for good decision making.

Audience: all levels, especially mid level management.

4. Persuasion Related

1. The Principles of Persuasion

In this module, we consider how to get people to say “yes” to you. Five different principles of persuasion are developed and illustrated both by ad campaigns and by numerous examples of sales techniques that utilize these principles. Participants then engage in a role playing exercise using these principles and view footage that is analyzed in terms of the techniques that are utilized

Audience: Middle Management

2. Persuasion from a Position of Low Power

This module considers the special case where an individual who holds a a unique or minority viewpoint attempts to persuade others or his/her bosses to that position. Not having the resources or power to persuade directly, there is an “art” to the persuasion in this circumstance and much depends on the persuasive “style” (the verbal and nonverbal “choreography”). Differing persuasive styles will be discussed and illustrated by film and role playing.

Audience: Emerging Leaders and Middle Management

3. Women and Persuasion

This module will concentrate on the art of persuasion and the fact that women use different persuasive styles than do men. By role playing exercises, participants can reflect on the type of persuasive style they most use. By then discussing the research on the persuasive styles and the likely impact, many will recognize that they underutilize the most effective modes of persuasion. Through role laying exercises, the participants will experience the usage of persuasive styles they might otherwise not use. The aim is to expand the range of styles comfortable to women and a consideration of what best “fits” the given individual

Audience: Females of all levels, especially middle management