Organizations throughout the world, and especially in developed economies, are looking to use innovations as a way to create new markets or out-compete their competition. These innovations can take many forms, from product to service innovations, business model to process innovations, or from incremental to radical innovations.
What these all have in common is that they typically require a novel way of thinking about a resource or opportunity or confronting existing business logics. The challenge this poses to executive education providers is two-fold: Firstly, how do we convince our students to approach business problems with a holistic approach that makes use of different perspectives? And secondly, how do we ourselves innovate the ways that we operate and teach in this new environment?
Case studies are a staple of executive education, and they can be used to great effect in teaching about how firms have overcome obstacles and achieved success in the past. One of the reactions to today’s increasingly fragmented business environment and exacerbated need for innovations is the emergence of so-called live cases to compliment and replace traditional case studies. The distinction between traditional case studies and live cases is that the latter focuses on a real business problem that a case firm is currently working on and that the data come from collaboration with the case firm as opposed to from historical data sources. At Aalto University Executive Education (Aalto EE) we have years been designing and executing live cases with and for leading international firms. We’ve found them to have a number of benefits ranging from providing students a chance to apply their newly-acquired knowledge in interesting and topical contexts to giving the firm that is providing the case context a unique opportunity to hear solutions from seasoned experts from diverse backgrounds.
The solutions to today’s biggest business challenges are rarely found within the strict confines of one discipline, be it finance or marketing or human resource management, but rather at their crossroads. Aalto University, which emerged in 2010 through the merger of three leading universities (Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki University of Technology, and University of Art and Design Helsinki), can offer its students a truly multi-disciplinary curriculum that brings together insights and experiences from diverse sources. To match the changing business realities executive education providers must constantly challenge themselves to develop new courses that merge various viewpoints. For us at Aalto EE, this has given rise to popular courses on topics such as service design, design business management, and design thinking.
Dr. Mikko Laukkanen
Head of Thought Leadership, Aalto EE