Article: Emphasis on Contextual Content: Deepak Chandra

Learning & Development

Emphasis on Contextual Content: Deepak Chandra

Deepak Chandra, Deputy Dean, Indian School of Business (ISB)

Executive education primarily caters to the top two levels in the organization. Depending on the size of the business, the top two levels could mean the person leading that organization or the division (business unit), and the CXO reporting in to the CEO/ business head.

Learning at the senior level includes people who want to know more about their particular functions, or those who are leading a particular function, but need to make decisions based on the understanding of other functions. Business complexities demand decision making that needs to incorporate other functions, the CEO’s perspective and the external market perspective. For example, you may be a finance person, but your decisions need to be based upon sales and marketing or others, in order to become a good decision maker and to prepare you for future roles.

There are two programs at that level – one that aims in getting to know more about a particular function or domain, and the second that aims at developing the general management perspective. Further, even within these, the context may change as they operate in a dynamic environment. A faculty in such programs will therefore bring in content which reflects the context in which the participant operates. At ISB, we start with building content around that context. At the second level, we seek to assess how to bring in contextualized context, either through a custom designed program or an open enrolment program. The third level focuses on its application, and therefore, aims to help the attendee internalize the learning, reflect over it and practice it. And the last level seeks to assess whether or not they benefited after having applied the learning. Thus, the ISB approach aims to provide contextualized context so that the learning is relevant. For this, we follow ‘action learning projects’, which allow people to take that learning back and implement it in their workplace.

From a company point of view, contextualized content and application of learning have seen increasing demand in terms of what they expect as returns from such investment. A popular model used to measure ROI is the Jack-Philips model for which, most of our people in the executive education department have been trained in.
The center for teaching, learning and case study at ISB aims at experimenting how learning can be continuously improved. For example, we worked with women entrepreneurs to see how they could scale their business. We educated them on a part-time basis over a period of 4-5 months, helped them put together a plan, and mentored and helped them scale that business. This reflected in a tremendous amount of benefits that emerged as a result of a combination of classroom learning and mentorship.

In business schools in India, executive education includes both open enrollment programs which are calendared and custom designed programs. At ISB, 55 percent are custom designed programs while 45 percent are open enrollment programs. Further, even within open enrollment programs, the approach is to study the profile of the audience and interact with them even before they come in to the classroom, which allows the faculty to assess how he/she can provide contextual content. For example, if there are 30 people, the faculty assesses what industry they represent and the problems faced there. If people want to work beyond the program on further contextualization and measurement, then we help them do that too.

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Topics: Learning & Development, Leadership, #HRIndustry

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