A 9 Day Evolutionary Journey from Management to Leadership

There is a flurry of executive education programs in the market, with both online and offline learning models being consumed by Corporates, depending on their specific needs. It becomes tough to choose from the plethora of options, with so many important aspects like cost, brand – reputation, curriculum, faculty, duration etc. to consider. 

With this write up, I would like to talk about a program which stood out in its conceptualisation and delivery, with the faculty and participants praising it untiringly, across forums and platforms The Accelerating Business Excellence Program 2019 was brought to India for the first time by Mr. Anil Sachdev, Founder and CEO, School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL) in collaboration with CEDEP – The European Centre for Executive Development, a not-for-profit organisation co-located on the INSEAD campus in Fontainebleau, France.

Though inspired by the French program versions, this program was uniquely crafted for the learning needs of high potential functional heads, keeping in mind the current Indian business context. This blended with the exclusive rituals, pedagogy and associations of SOIL truly made this program outstanding and memorable.

Day 1 – Day 3: Yens Meyer and Loic Sadoulet, our global faculty from INSEAD backed by diverse consulting experience, kick-started the program with sessions on understanding the business strategy, good and bad strategies, why we need to create and revisit our strategy, imperatives of a VUCA environment, management of risk and living with failure. They discussed the understanding and application of tools for business strategy to differentiate and thrive with special focus on Blue Ocean strategic tools to identify untapped market potential and uncontested white space.

With this understanding of strategy, the next session dealt with understanding agile organisations and how they enable effective and swift strategy deployment, provided it also receives the right impetus from agile leadership.

Day 4: The participants were now well-equipped with the knowledge of strategy and agile organisations, and it was important to provide them with the practical knowledge of how to execute strategies at the ground level with limited resources. A visit with incubated startups at IIT-Delhi, followed by a debrief was organised. The key was to appreciate how entrepreneurship requires a radically different mindset, how it can co-exist with business-as-usual structures and practices, and how real strategies are being actually put to test in the market. Mr. Yogesh Andlay, Co-founder & Board Member SOIL, and Professor Vijay Ghei, Program Director ABE, were instrumental in facilitating this extremely relevant and thought-provoking session, from which stemmed many fruitful conversations.

Day 5: The participants spent a day with Dr. Monica Singhania understanding financial statements, what they tell us and what they don’t, using financial analysis and reporting for management decision-making, funding and managing projects, especially high-risk innovation projects, creation of a business case, managing capital and operational funding.

Day 6: We had two extremely accomplished industry practitioners, Mr. Jaspreet Bindra and Avnish Sabharwal to expose

the participants to the nebulous world of Digital transformation. Myths and reality, relevant technology trajectories and what they mean for different sectors, what’s relevant for India and in the global context, how to induct and embrace, what to focus on and what traps and temptations to avoid.

Days 7 & 8: were dedicated to bringing all the pieces together as to how the top-level strategy can be dissected to the level of implementation, designed to perfection by Professor Vijay Ghei. A simulated session of Design Thinking and its application in defining and refining business strategy, improving customer and employee engagement, designing, building and testing products and services, design thinking as a core differentiating capability, some methods and tools, design research and insight methods, team formation and attitudes, mindsets that work, cultures and practices that allow for failure and risk taking. Mr. Subroto Gupta, Head – Innovation, Business Excellence – Jubilant Foods joined us for a fireside chat where he spoke about the disruption in the food & beverage industry and how Dominoz is right there – experimenting, evolving and living up to customer expectations. Participants raised pertinent questions in line with their learnings and Subroto drew parallels and made the concepts come alive, unravelling the concepts of deep tech & design principles being used by Dominoz.

Day 9: Finally, it was crucial to discuss the role of leaders in building organisations which can withstand the challenges and threats posed by external and internal factors, by building the right culture. We had the honour of inviting Mr. RR Nair, a legendary name in the Indian HR fraternity to explain what makes a leader a coach, why nurturing leadership styles work better with the current generation of employees and in the emerging work environment, how to assess oneself and develop the right attitude, mindset and behaviour traits to be successful, thoughts on culture and work environment.

With the carefully crafted flow of extremely relevant topics, a pedagogy which enabled high levels of participant learning and assimilation and faculty who kept the delivery extremely simple, fluid and contextual, this program has received stellar feedback.

We are geared up to launch the second batch in 2020 and take the design, planning and execution to the next level, because improvement never stops!   

Nidhika Mishra