Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten (Skinner). The real test of any educational programme can only be truly tested after a significant period of time. This makes a mockery of the way in which the majority of executive educational programmes are currently measured.  The measures are usually immediate and because there is a ‘programme’ mentality towards education in this context, there is seldom a process in place that would allow a more authentic measure, one that stands the test of time.

The implications of this are significant given the investment involved in such programmes coupled with the gaping need to develop adaptive leaders capable of effective leadership into the future. The heart of the issue is one of transferability: How to transfer knowledge from the classroom / learning environment to operational leadership. Whilst leadership pedagogy has shifted somewhat in recent decades from didactic teaching to highly experiential methodologies, nagging questions linger as to whether or not the shift has been sufficient and how best to measure the change. Applying the old measures to new methodologies is clearly problematic.

Three important questions posed to the Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) fellows at the outset by Professor Nick Barker include:

  • What do you think I want you to remember 10 years from now?
  • What do you think you will actually remember 10 years from now? (Regardless of what I hope you remember). What will actually survive?
  • Most important, how will you ensure that you remember a combination of what you want to remember and what I hope you remember?

Responsibility for learning rests with the Learner; Responsibility to provide a structure that develops a learning process rests with the organization; Responsibility to provide the material and learning stepping-stones on the learning journey rests with the Educators.

Certainly, if companies investing in executive leadership education are concerned about achieving greater, ‘bang for their buck’…some urgent questions need to be asked.

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