executive education

In the current downturn, many companies have adopted a slash and burn approach to executive development. While a bit of pruning may well be in order, a wholesale dismantling of management training is short sighted. Well-designed programs provide benefits well in excess of their cost: They help managers who have never seen a recession avoid common mistakes; they allow top executives to drive their agenda. Employees, moreover, are highly motivated to learn anything that will help them navigate the current downturn.

Companies can hire stars in a downturn, but they can also develop existing employees. A recent survey of European HR executives found that the three least effective ways to cut costs in past recessions all entailed cutting back training and management development. Despite their negative impact on organizational effectiveness and employee commitment in the long-term, companies continue to rely on them to trim costs in the short-term. This is a mistake.  In a downturn, management development is not a luxury to cut, but an opportunity to seize. Talent development in a downturn can create a sustainable competitive advantage in three ways:

Leading in turbulent times

This blog is no longer active but it remains open as an archive.

Don Sull is professor of management practice in strategic and international management, and faculty director of executive education at London Business School. This blog is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, managers, and outside directors to lead more effectively in a turbulent world.

Over the past decade, Prof Sull has studied volatile industries including telecommunications, airlines, fast fashion, and information technology, as well as turbulent countries including Brazil and China, and found specific behaviours that consistently differentiate more, and less, successful firms. His conclusion is that actions, not an individual’s traits, increase the odds of success in turbulent markets, and these actions can be learned.

Don Sull’s blog: a guide

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FT Business School videos

Managing in an Unpredictable World
A series of video lectures by Professor Don Sull

Part 1: Fog of the future
Part 2: Future reconnaissance
Part 3: The strategic agility loop
Part 4: Executing with commitments
Part 5: Leading into the fog

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