Radio Interview about Gender Balance in Practice

2014-09-18

Do we need quotas for females in leadership and on company boards? Do they work? Do those already at the top think they cannot do anything about it? What kind of basic assumptions do we typically have about men and women in management? What are the argument for gender imbalance? What is the governance case for gender balance?

Listen to my answers to these and other questions in this 9 min radio interview with me in the Irish radio show NewsTalk – Moncrief, 11 September, 2014.

.mp3 file here:


The Renaissance We Need in Business Education

2014-07-03

Having taught at five business schools over several decades and served as Dean of two, I have come to a conclusion: The educational institutions where our future business leaders are being trained must be recalibrated and transformed dramatically.

Business education today is anachronistic in both how it is conducted and what its content focuses on. Our brick institutions have in no way caught up with what today’s technologies make possible in terms of virtual learning and individualized, customized instruction. More importantly, business education needs to evolve once again, revising its goals to educate leaders of the future who have a new set of skills: sustainable global thinking, entrepreneurial and innovative talents, and decision-making based on practical wisdom.

Full text in my 2 July 2014 article “The Renaissance We Need in Business Education” in Harvard Business Review.


Lessons needed to beat the computer

2014-06-20

Half of the jobs in the category “management, business and financial” involve complex perception and manipulation tasks, as well as creative and social intelligence, and will not be automated for a decade or two. This is a call to action. It suggests that business schools must refocus their curricula to provide students with the right skills so that they avoid being computerised out of the future.

Full text in my 18 June 2014 article “Lessons needed to beat the computer” in Financial Times.

 

 


Authenticity Makes a Difference

2014-05-25

How do we respond to the onslaught of challenges facing universities and business schools? When the world is changing, clinging to old models is a bad idea. Know thyself and build on it.

Read how we at JIBS are keeping the creeping sameness in the business of business school at bay.

Full story in my 19 May 2014 article “Authenticity Makes a Difference“at www.vertikals.se – JIBS’ blog on entrepreneurship, renewal and ownership.

 


The Changing Business of Business Schools

2014-02-25

I think it’s time for us to admit that the critics have a valid question: Why aren’t business schools changing faster to keep up with changes in the business world?

Full story in my25 February 2014 guest blog “The Changing Business of Business School“.

 

EFMD is a management development network serving over 800 member organisations from academia, business, public service and consultancy in 81 countries. It is a unique forum for information, research, networking and debate on innovation and best practice inmanagement development.


Making the good even better: reforming a business school

2014-02-15

You are probably not very familiar with Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) or its Swedish name Internationella Handelshögskolan but our goal is that within five years you will be…..over the last two years my colleagues and I have carefully begun to reform Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) in Sweden along its basic business dimensions.

Full story in my January 2014 article “Making the Good even Better” in Global Focus, 2014, 9(1), pp. 48-51. Here I describe and discuss the transformations made to renew the pioneering and entrepreneurial strategy and culture of this unique Swedish business school.

The issue of Global Focus was published in conjunction with the annual 2014 Dean and Director General Conference, attracting more than 300 business school leaders from around the globe.


To MOOC or not, that’s the question

2014-02-12

The MOOCs phenomenon – Massive Open Online Courses – comes with either the threat or promise of disruptive innovation in one of the fundamental pillars of society: higher education. How should business schools deal with this phenomenon?

MOOCs are networked higher education courses delivered on the net to anyone with a thick internet connection, anywhere. The first MOOC was offered in 2008 – and was a result of the convergence of distance (“e-“) learning and the accelerating bandwidth of the internet. The acronym speaks to the promises that MOOCs offer:

  • Massive. The technology enables thousands of students to enroll and participate at any time in courses about anything taught by talented professors from any institution in the world.
  • Open.  They are open in several respects. Anyone can enroll. Students may pay a symbolic fee to get the formal credit from the host institution, but they do not pay for participation in the course.  The material produced by faculty is open and shared openly.
  • Online. Participants network openly with faculty, among themselves, and with others who are online. Content is always available on the net and can take many forms, like articles, books, videos, tweets and tags.
  • Courses.  MOOCs can cover just about any course taught in a traditional university setting, from humanities to social sciences, to even the hard sciences. Almost no type of course is MOOC ineligible.

The arguments between MOOCs proponents and skeptics are filling newspaper articles, blog posts, tweets and conferences. Will MOOCs fundamentally transform higher education, or is it just hype playing on the emotional appeal of “bringing inexpensive higher education to millions?”

No matter what it is, it seems clear that university leaders need to start paying greater attention.

Learnings from Two Conferences

Over the last week, I attended two meetings for business school leaders where the MOOCs theme surfaced center stage: the 2014 EFMD Conference for Deans & Directors General in Gothenburg and the 2014 AACSB Deans Conference in San Francisco. These meetings attracted respectively more than 300 and 600 business school leaders from all over the world. During the sessions, I learned about the leading providers of MOOCs:

  1. A few Stanford science and engineering professors began offering their courses online and founded the for-profit MOOCs providers Udacity and Coursera.
  2. The MOOCs landscape today includes a range of for- and non-profit providers with their own twist, including KhanAcademy, Udemy, and CodeAcademy.
  3. MIT and Harvard formed a new approach, the edX consortium, which currently includes many Ivy League quality universities in the world. In July 2013, edX went open-source and shared the software needed to develop MOOCs.
  4. In September 2013, Google signed up with edX to create a portal website that will go live in a few months  – mooc.org – which they hope will soon become a YouTube for MOOCs. (Google is already a member of the Udacity initiated Open Education Alliance.)

Understanding the debate

At the two gatherings, we heard from both MOOCs proponents and skeptics. Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn (“Learn anytime, anywhere”), gave a sobering view of the possibilities of MOOCs, reminding us they are a merely an extension of the Open University approach already in place for 40 years. His message: Forget the hype about the end of universities. Higher ed just needs to learn how to augment their content with crowd interaction and great online user-experiences.

Some claimed MOOCs have already gone from good to great. Paul Stacey of Creative Common praised one of the first MOOCs – ds106.us – for its fundamental social learning, open pedagogy and underlying “constructivism” philosophy of education. His message: don’t let these fundamentals slip.

Coursera co-founder Daphny Koller (“Take the World’s Best Courses, On-Line, for Free”) and Ben Nelson, founder of Minerva (“Only the world’s brightest, most motivated students will be invited to attend”) represented the contrast between Massively & Open-oriented vs. Small & Elite-oriented.  Their overall message was that MOOCs will help teaching reclaim prominence in today’s research-biased higher education world.

From the debate, Q&As, and informal talk during these gatherings, it became clear to me that in MOOCs lie both opportunities and threats for all higher education institutions, including business schools. Some will find natural strengths to integrate MOOCs into their strategy, like the renowned universities that have already signed up with big MOOC providers. But others will have faculty members who adamantly oppose MOOCs, and some institutions will assert their territorialism.

We are seeing this already. On 2 May 2013, professors in the philosophy department at San Jose State University, CA wrote a letter to Michael Sandel, a Harvard professor whose MOOC on Justice they felt infringed on their own curriculum. The letter urged Sandel to “not produce products that will replace professors, dismantle departments, and provide a diminished education for students in public universities.” But one of the commentaries on this letter countermanded, “…we also need to face the fact that professors can be expendable and replaceable, especially when real financial constraints are considered.  That is tough on egos.”

Similarly, 58 Harvard professors voiced their frustration that Harvard had become so deeply involved with edX without consulting them. In a letter to the dean they called for a new committee and greater oversight of MOOCs. The dean didn’t comply.

So What’s Next?

Personally, I see potential for symbiosis from the interaction of traditional higher education and MOOCs.

On one hand, even the skeptics can’t ignore the gross enrolment numbers MOOCs can generate. In January 2014, one of the earliest MOOC providers signed up students at a daily rate of 10.000, totaling some 7 million participants. Skeptics point to low completion rates though, only 4 to 10%. But, even with completion rate of just 7%, the number of Coursera “graduates” equals all students currently enrolled in three Harvard Universities and one MIT combined. Such an achievement calls for celebration, IMO!

I also agree with the criticisms about traditional lectures and often ask faculty why any student should spend time listening to one in an auditorium. Students tell me they rather get an App or go to an online site where they can watch a video of the lecture whenever and wherever they like. They also want to be able to choose the video of a more talented professor—and we are seeing this happen– celebrity professors who are becoming like rockstars.

But questions remain: Will students and employers value a MOOC diploma as much as the one from a “real” university? What is the perceived value of an “accreditation” of a course made by a Nobel Laureate compared to an international accreditation agency? A few days ago 110.000 people had signed up for the first such MOOC, offered by Laureate Robert Schiller,  who gained the prize in 2013. Can MOOC providers continue to operate with a viable business model? And who will pay for the professorial time devoted to develop and run MOOCs, especially in institutions already stretched financially?

What will evolve next is an open question for all of us. If MOOCs represent the tsunami some people claim they are, it is difficult to see how resistance to them will prevail. The next step would at least be for universities to open up to substituting MOOCs for some their own courses in programs delivered on campus. I am sure the MOOCs providers are exploring viable business models that could let this happen, and quality ensured licensing looks like the natural choice.

In my business school, JIBS, I want us to be ready for this possibility. That is why we recently launched a strategic project with a dual purpose: 1) to explore how we could encourage some faculty members to develop MOOCs and learn from this; and 2) how we can integrate others’ MOOCs into our degree programs. At least, we’re taking a first step.


Danish Design 2020

2011-10-27

The future of Danish design is to integrate it with innovation

Design is an important brick in the tricky jig-saw puzzle about how to rejuvenate the Danish economy.

The country is well known for its design traditions, beautifully designed products and its thriving design industry. In the 1990s Denmark was among the first countries in the world to adopt a design policies (=1st generation) but since then other countries have caught-up and even launched design policies emphasizing the dissemination of knowledge on how to use design and how to create better-functioning markets for design services (= 2nd generation policy).  The UK, Netherlands, Korea, Singapore and Finland are just a few examples. If Denmark is to maintain its strong design identity, and if it is to become better at harnessing the innovative capabilities of design, these design policies need to be updated (= 3rd generation policy). An international group of six experts appointed by the government and chaired by me presented to the minister of business and the minister of culture the Vision for Danish design 2020 in June 2010.

Our task was to develop a vision, not a detailed action plan but we did a bit of both. We articulated a vision that we believe is both exciting and realistic and we made a number of suggestions for how to make it happen. I am absolutely delighted this was never a party political matter and that one of the strong players in the new government, the liberal RV party, presented their own design policy ideas already this spring. This means that there is a good chance that our suggestions will be converted into new and changed policies over the next few years.

In short, the we envisioned that in 2020 Denmark is known worldwide as the design society –  a society that, at all levels and in a responsible way, has integrated the use of design to improve the quality of people’s lives, create economic value for businesses, and make the public sector better and more efficient. To quote from our report: “Our vision will be realized the day it is no longer necessary to explain and motivate the value of design or promote its use to Danish companies and public organizations. This is the day when design will have become an interwoven part of the psychological, social, and economic fabric of Danish society. This is the day when design will be as natural to Danes as caring for the environment.

From here we presented the landscape and the roadmap for design as a driver of innovation, design competency development, design research and future branding of Denmark. In this post I will only mention our suggestions regarding design as a driver of innovation since, in my view, this is where the real mind shift is called for. We argued that Danish public-private partnerships simply should use design to develop innovative solutions to societal challenges, especially in areas in which Denmark and Danish companies have advantages such as the green economy and welfare services. The example of the upcoming mega investments in five new hospitals was a frequently used example of where a more intentionally and integrated up-front use of design thinking and approaches could add much value. Specifically, in our vision of using design as a driver of innovation we suggested that:

• A majority of Danish companies use design as an important and integrated driver of innovation to strengthen their productivity and global competitiveness.

• Denmark has a significant number of specialized design firms that offer a wide variety of cutting- edge design products and services to the global market.

• The Danish public sector consistently utilizes design to develop better and more efficient services.

• Denmark remains a country where materials and products are shaped, developed, and produced in innovative ways.

Our many suggestions about this an other issues represent an important step for how Denmark can retain its lead in design (or avoid losing it) by thinking of design as interwoven with innovation and by seriously upgrading its research and education about design. While the rest of the world is busy overtaking each other in innovation and Denmark is slipping in international rankings about innovation. From the perspective of research and higher education the integrated design aspect of Alto University and the new Singapore University of Technology and Design are examples that speak for themselves, which contrasts with some recent developments in Denmark.

The full report is available for downloading from the ministry of business.


Playing seriously

2011-10-27

Play is a way to welcome the imagination and cultivate spontaneity.

“Despite good intentions and decades of conceptual progress, strategy is often practised as if circumstances remain reasonably stable. The typical outcome of such practices is well-defined action plans suitable for dealing with the expected, rather than increasing the readiness of individuals, groups and the entire organization to seize fleeting opportunities and avoid emerging problems. When I confront senior executives with these observations and views, few disagree and most say they wish things were different in the way they practise strategy. They also seem to be at loss about how to remedy the situation.”

This is one of the first paragraphs in my 2006 book Thinking from Within. The book was the outcome of a decade of research, consulting and experimentation and my statement a summary of the problem I had experienced, and continue to experience in corporations.

I recently worked with a leadership to of a large multinational corporation and I was struck by how valid my argument from 2006 seems to remain. They were doing the same thing over, and over, and over again, and, for some reason, expecting a different outcome. By the way, this remains one of the best definitions of insanity I know of.

In the late 1990s I was a professor of strategy and general management at IMD in Switzerland and this is where a college of mine, Dr. Bart Victor, and I begun exploring with the notion of breaking the patterns of how strategy was made in organizations.   The idea started out as a way to use LEGO bricks in innovative ways, in fact, it was a way to innovate an executive program at LEGO Company (!) that I was responsible for. In turn, this resulted in a product that Bart and I invented and patented together with them and we labelled it LEGO Serious Play (LSP). Wikipedia has a fair description of that history and an open and growing global LSP community of management and organizational consultants is thriving.

Much research and many publications later I  came to frame strategy making as being prepared to deal effectively and responsibly with the unexpected more than the action plan and the budget we develop to be prepared to deal with the expected. However, this twist calls for more imagination and spontaneity than writing up an action plan. In short, Thinking from Within is a play-like practice that enables people to engage more and different senses to create the conditions for new and different ideas and actions. It is about working more astute for meeting new circumstances in new ways.

LSP is a great product and I am delighted it continues to add value in so many organizations throughout the world. But, the concept is not about LEGO or any other kind of materials. It is about the tremendous power of creative arts methods that engages more of our senses and more of our brain capacity, which is well known in psychology since the time of Carl Jung. This is what I discuss and exemplify in the Thinking from Within book.  This is why any kind of material remain an illustration and not a panacea of this approach to cultivate the imagination and welcome the spontaneity of serious people in serious situations.

As many prospective consultants have experienced the hard way when they passionately put a box with materials on the table, however, the key success factors to this approach are three: (1) great facilitation skills, (2) great facilitation skills and (3) great facilitation skills.

Here is Chapter 1 of Thinking from Within.

One of the first theory articles was published in Long Range Planing: Roos et al. (2004)


Fewer teachers should mean fewer students

2011-10-25

When I arrived at CBS I quickly uncovered the business model of a university, which was totally dependent on modest amounts of state funding. In short, the idea was to (1)  increase the number of programs to attract a broader range of students, (2) increase the number of students/class (room), (3) reduce the number of faculty hours (teaching and support)/student, and (4) reduce the number of full-time faculty/class while increasing the number of part-time/guest lecturers. This is a powerful recipe for reducing the costs of higher education. It is also a recipe for reduced quality and for creating long-term problems for the society that supports it.

In this column I reflect over the necessity to increase the funding for a university, which has succeeded in attracting far more students than it can accept.

BERLINGSKE NYHEDSMAGASIN 20. AUGUST – 26. AUGUST 2010

Dr. Johan Roos

Færre forskere betyder færre studerende

Også i år hører vi triste historier om de mange unge, som afvises fra deres drømmestudium. Copenhagen Business School (CBS) vil gerne uddanne flere. Vi kan bare ikke, fordi vores forskerbevillinger er så lave.

Hvis politikerne vil have flere dyg- tige kandidater til de danske virk- somheder, som skal skabe vækst i Danmark i de kommende år, er de nødt til at opprioritere forsknings- midlerne til det erhvervsøkonomi- ske område.

CBS er mange unges foretrukne uddannelsessted, og der venter kandidaterne gode job bagefter. Senest har Danmarks Erhvervsforsknings Akademi (DEA) doku- menteret, at den samfundsmæssige nytte af flere kan- didater med en videregående erhvervsøkonomisk ud- dannelse er markant. Men på visse uddannelser på CBS skal man have tæt på 11 i gennemsnit fra sin studen- tereksamen.

For få forskere: Hvorfor kan CBS så ikke bare uddanne nogle flere? Det er desværre ikke så ligetil, som det kun- ne lyde. Vi har i år udvidet optaget med 150 studerende, men der er grænser for, hvor langt vi kan og vil strække det lovfæstede begreb forskningsbaseret uddannelse.

Der er nemlig ikke nok forske- repåCBStilat sikre, at et øget antal studeren- de kan møde ak- tive forskere på højt niveau. Og det er nødvendigt for at sikre, at underviserne benytter sig af den nyeste og mest relevante tilgængelige vi- den. Samtidig er det påkrævet,

hvis de studerende – som er morgendagens ledere – skal forstå, anerkende og være i stand til at bruge faktabase- rede analyser og videnskabelige metoder frem for anek- doter og simpel mavefornemmelse. Desuden skal alle uddannelser godkendes af Akkrediteringsrådet, som med god grund kræver, at en vis del af undervisningen varetages af forskere.

Forskningsbaseringen af uddannelserne sikres gen- nem universiteternes såkaldte basisforskningsmidler, og her får CBS en yderst beskeden andel; faktisk under 4 procent af de samlede bevillinger. Dette skyldes mulig- vis traditioner, men så vidt jeg ved også mange politike- res manglende viden om, at samfundsvidenskabelige og især erhvervsøkonomiske uddannelser skaber vækst.

Viharikkeråd:Menikkenokmeddet. CBS’taxameter- tilskud er mindre end halvdelen af, hvad f.eks. en inge- niørstuderende udløser. Tilsammen betyder dette, at CBS har langt færre forskere end andre universiteter. Vi har simpelthen ikke råd til at uddanne og ansætte nye forskere. Og det er altså ikke, fordi forskere på CBS ikke leverer varen; i ministeriets egen måling af resultater ligger CBS faktisk betydeligt over gennemsnit.

Vi vil meget gerne optage endnu flere studerende på CBS, der kan skabe vækst og arbejdspladser i både den private og offentlige sektor, men det kræver, at politiker- ne øger forskningsmidlerne til det erhvervsøkonomiske område. Måske kunne dette blive et tema for regeringens Vækstforum?

9.-10. september lægger CBS hus til næste møde i statsminister Lars Løkke Rasmussens (V) Vækstforum. Her vil regeringen og udvalgte repræsentanter fra er- hvervslivet og forskningsverden tage næste skridt i den vigtige diskussion om, hvordan Danmark får skabt en holdbar vækst i fremtiden. Netop diskussionen om, hvordan fremtidens uddannelser skal se ud, bør være et meget vigtigt element i den langsigtede strategi for dansk vækst.