As a talent executive, ensuring that your organization successfully competes on differentiated capabilities is critical. Your strategy for developing new mindsets, shared capabilities and skillsets may be a mix of customizing group programs and selecting program offerings in the market for individuals.  Below, we explore key considerations in determining that “mix.”

Three top considerations for customizing a group learning solution:

  1. Clarity about your solution objectives, the learning audience and how the learning intervention will impact the organizational capabilities is critical: Any learning partner will ask probing questions while designing the intervention. Partners often invest significant time prior to engagement before charging a consulting fee. The resulting clarity saves time and financial resources.
  2. Understanding that the success of a customized intervention is not what executives learn but how their performance is enhanced on the job: Organizations must define how the learning insights from a customized intervention translate into demonstrated and habitual behaviors and actions. To this end, custom learning programs are often described as journeys using a combination of Education, Experience and Exposures, sometimes called the 3E framework.
    • Education – the new knowledge and skill acquisition obtained from the program content and facilitator expertise.
    • Exposuresactivities to drive engagement, networking and feedback “outside” the program. These may be line manager feedback sessions, access to an executive coach, teaming with an accountability partner or being connected to a thought leadership network to share learnings and insights.
    • Experiences – program-related intervention efforts like action learning projects or task force assignments. These can support formalized plans to apply the learning and new skills and connect to an individual’s specific career development goals.
  1. Getting the most out of a customized group investment: Organizations targeting a significant number of executives for a group program benefit from multiple cohorts, which decrease the per participant costs including the design and set-up fee of the program.  Additionally, advances in the access and quality of digital platforms means that content can be more easily delivered to larger audiences in a synchronous manner. Combining the two delivery modes, in-person engagements can focus on the synthesis, application and group collaboration over shorter and more productive periods increasing the impact/cost equation.

If a customized program is not in scope for your organization, individual program offerings provide very targeted learning and content to personalize the development experience.

The three top considerations for an open/focused learning approach are:

  1. Selecting the right program: Programs can generally be divided into three categories.
    • Leadership and management – comprehensive multi-day programs that are capability or competency focused with titles like Collaboration and Influence, Leading for Results and Building a High-Performance Team
    • Functional – focused on areas like finance, marketing, human capital, and engineering
    • Technical – everything from machine learning to delivering PowerPoint presentations
  2. The cohort and the program provider: Individual programs allow access to a cohort or expanded network of individuals outside the individual’s organization and industry. The brand of the provider enhances the individual achievement and reflects the quality of the facilitators.
  3. The experience and focus on continued learning: Regardless of the focus or format, learning is most effective when participants are motivated and can tie the learning experience to future benefits. Unique faculty insights and participant exposures add value, as do programs providing post-program resources.

Executive development is a critical investment in growing strategic capabilities. World class organizations know that their talent and how the organization works together may be one of the best ways to ensure enduring competitive performance. Learn more about custom and open program solutions for your organization on our website.

About the Authors

Shaun Rozyn
Managing Director of Client Solutions, Executive Education and Lifelong Learning

Lisa Cannell
Managing Director of Client Solutions, Executive Education and Lifelong Learning

Shaun and Lisa collaborate with organizations to address their talent and organizational needs through diagnoses of the leadership development and capability building requirements, and aligning those requirements with customized solutions that are developed in partnership with Darden’s top-ranked faculty.