Saturday 15 December 2018

The future of business schools is Agile

A very old lecture (University of Bologna)
We have all experienced the hurdle of being in a huge class, with hundreds of fellow students, trying to capture the very top-down key learnings of a far-away professor speaking about entrepreneurship and new frontiers. We all know the sound of all the scratching pens copying some confused and over-loaded slides on a confused and overloaded paper notebook. This basic pedagogy did not substantially change for hundreds of years since the first modern universities popped out in the world around the 11th Century AD. 

ESSEC promotion of 1909
Then, at some point in the 20th Century, someone in the US came out with a revolutionary idea: the modern MBA. The idea behind every MBA is to offer a course strongly based on case studies and experiential learning. In order to do that, MBAs typically relies on small classes to foster participation and discussion and on much teamwork to « learn by doing ».

This MBA-approach was then adopted in all the modern business schools, like ESSEC, in many of their programs like, for example, the flagship Masters In Management. But how to further develop the 21st Century pedagogy to equip the leaders of tomorrow with the necessary skills to succeed?

Someone who spends a good amount of his free time to read literature and specialized press on managerial topics will surely come across, from time to time, with the word Agile. The Agile approach was originally developed to revolutionize project management for software development. The original idea behind Agile is that software development is often unpredictable and that therefore this unpredictability has to be tackled thanks to incremental, iterative work sequences and transversal problem-solving.

After some time from the invention of this revolutionary
approach, it turned out that the modern macro-environment, including customer shifts, climate change and demographics trends are much more unpredictable than software.  

Therefore, the necessity to achieve Agility in real-life management situations started to arise. Some business schools took up the torch of this pedagogical revolution and started to propose Agile curriculums during their programs. How?

Take the flagship Masters in Management at ESSEC. Every trimester, you have to face a choice: exchange, professional experience or courses. Let’s say that you pick courses. What happens in almost every university in the world is that the university will choice the courses you have to follow and if you are lucky enough you will be able to choose a couple of extra classes during a 2-years program. This is not how Agile works. Let’s come back at ESSEC. One month before the trimester starts, you will be able to choose up to 7 courses from more than 200+ classes covering everything from finance, ethics, marketing to strategy. This unlimited freedom to shape your curriculum will allow you to develop your knowledge dynamically depending, for example, on which internship you want to do first or on which project you are working on (you can find the full list of courses here).

ESSEC Asia-Pacific classes
Let’s say you want to go in exchange. You have 10 double degrees all around the world. You have ESSEC Singapore and ESSEC Rabat with their exclusive paths and programs. You have hundreds of exchange destinations both at MBA and MSC level. Do you want to do all those things? It turns out that you can!

Finally, what if you chose professional experience? Being on the top business school in the world will allow you to find great internships both in Europe and outside. You will be able to do an apprenticeship if you prefer to have a more flexible schedule, studying 6 months and working for the rest of the year.

In conclusion, all this unprecedented freedom has been carefully designed to give to ESSEC students the capacity and the tools to face the big challenges of our modern world. In short, to make them Agile. 

Written by A. Carletta, Student Ambassador for the MiM program