After two years, ten modules, forty thousand words, countless hours of reading, and one pandemic, I recently completed my MBA at the University of Bath.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity. Throughout the course, I've had the help of family, friends, and colleagues who were eager to put the various concepts to the test or participate in innumerable discussions about the topic of the month!
With the MBA now complete, I recently reviewed my notes to capture my key takeaways from each module. I've included them below for those who are interested.
High-stakes presentations necessitate preparation, passion, and dedication.
Throughout the MBA, we heard from some amazing presenters about some high-pressure presentations. Their key lessons were: meaning is central to a good presentation, demonstrate enthusiasm and commitment to an idea. And most importantly, always have a simple, clear, and direct message.
Transformational change necessitates a leader who balances the present and possible futures.
Leading an organisation through change necessarily involves a leader or leadership team capable of sustaining day-to-day management while creating the future and evolving the organisation's vision. Maintaining this tension necessitates a delicate balance of risk-aversion and risk-taking. You are exercising visionary leadership when you manage this tension.
Does your decision pass the New York Times test?
Organisational leaders must increasingly demonstrate a capacity to handle the inherent trade-offs between business outcomes and social impact. As the world grows more complicated, businesses are required to take (willingly or not) more notice of their outputs’ environmental, social, and governance implications. The expedient of the New York Times (NYT) test was a straightforward and clear concept that truly appealed to me when it came to business decisions. The NYT test asks, "Would you be willing to have your business decision on the front page of the NYT?" If the answer is yes, go for it. No, don't do it."
Remember the "four Vs" of volume, variety, variation, and visibility to improve organisational effectiveness.
These four concepts will accompany me as I move forward on my journey with organisational change. They are not only relevant for physical supply chains and operations. The four Vs are easy to remember and yet fundamental to determining how to manage and improve the effectiveness of your organisation's activities.
Continue to move back and forth between the balcony and the dance floor.
Leadership necessitates the ability to make sense and to be present. As a leader, you must decide when to observe events and when to intervene and take direct action. Look no further than the film Invictus for a clear example of this, not to mention an inspiring story. It demonstrates the ability to move between both perspectives very effectively.
Have you thought about the who, what, and how of your team?
Team formation is not always easy, and good team management necessitates a consistent focus on the team's health. This simple framework has already proven to be a useful checklist for team management. The main points are as follows: 1) What is your team's task? What are the team's goals, timetables, and approaches? 2) Who should be a part of the team? Do they have the required skills and resources to complete the 'what'? How are they faring, and do they need coaching or mentoring to succeed? Where are they having trouble? 3) How will the team work together? Is there a specific strategy or method of operation? Is there anything that needs to change about the way they work for them to be successful?
The alignment, or misalignment, between intended policy and experienced policy influences how employees behave and, ultimately, how well they perform.
As a result, it is critical to identify the impediments to the implementation of your desired policy. Look for potential bottlenecks at these points in the employee policy cycle: breakdowns where a policy isn't appropriate for the context, deviations from the intended policy in actual or observed practise, and how employees or individuals interpret the policy, influencing their attitudes toward the organisation.
Use the CLEAR framework to manage change.
A simple framework to remember when considering how to drive change forward in an organisation. The five key concepts are: Connecting, ensuring that people understand the value of the change and believe in its purpose. Leadership to engage stakeholders and empower others to form coalitions to support the change. Enable, put the necessary resources and actions in place to generate momentum for the change. Align the new systems to enable change to stick, including the right people, systems, and rewards. Reinforce change. As the organisation better understands the change, refine and repeat your message.
Strategy and scenario planning should go hand in hand.
In the 1970s, Paul Weck invented scenario planning, which spawned a new way of thinking about evolving the world. One of the MBA's standout ideas was incorporating this into how a company thinks about itself and its strategy. Create scenarios to think through possible futures and be daring - always look for uncomfortable truths, not just confirmatory information. Then incorporate this into your organisational strategy, and you'll be much more resilient.
Allow yourself time and space to think and reflect on what is going on around you and why changes occur.
Be open to generating a variety of ideas. Making time to think is essential for coming up with new ideas and solving problems.
There you have it: twenty-four months and 400 hours in a classroom distilled into my top ten takeaways. I hope you find them as interesting as I found them beneficial.