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"The objective of this book is to provide innovative approaches for developing people and expanding organizational capabilities. If you also have this objective, this book is for you, because each chapter is written by a qualified author to provide the information you need."
—Donald L. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin, and author, Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels
|Series:||Pfeiffer Essential Resources for Training and HR Professionals Series|
|Product dimensions:||7.22(w) x 9.51(h) x 1.51(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Next Generation of Corporate UniversitiesInnovative Approaches for Developing People and Expanding Organizational Capabilities
By Mark Allen
John Wiley & SonsCopyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhat Is a Next-Generation Corporate University?
CAN IT BE THAT corporate universities have actually been around long enough for there to be a second generation? The first corporate universities date back at least as far as the 1940s, but the real growth started in the 1990s, so many corporate universities are now entering their second decade. As these entities grow in size and sophistication, the answer to my opening question is yes, and it is time to start talking about a new generation of corporate universities-ones that go beyond training and development, go beyond merely calling themselves a corporate university, and offer a variety of innovative services that help develop people and expand organizational capabilities. It is those corporate universities and their innovative approaches that are the subject of this book.
The two questions I am most frequently asked about corporate universities are, "Isn't a corporate university just a fancy name for a training department?" and "What exactly is a corporate university?" A corporate university is not a fancy trainingdepartment. The best way to distinguish a training department from a corporate university is to look at the span of activities that each offers. A training department does training. A corporate university does training and many, many other things.
Corporate universities are responsible for developing people and growing organizational capabilities. Lest you think I am discounting training, I believe training is an excellent way to develop people-possibly the best way. However, there are many other ways to do it as well. A bit later in this chapter I list those ways (training is near the top of the list), and it is quite a long list.
So that brings us to the other question: What exactly is a corporate university? In The Corporate University Handbook (2002), I offered this definition: "A corporate university is an educational entity that is a strategic tool designed to assist its parent organization in achieving its mission by conducting activities that cultivate individual and organizational learning, knowledge, and wisdom" (p. 9). The most important word in that definition is strategic. Although training departments are important, they are usually tactical and operational and are often not tied directly to an organization's strategy. In order to be considered a true corporate university, the entity must be mission driven and tied to strategy.
This leads us to another question that people often ask: Is it appropriate for my organization to have a corporate university? As much as I am an advocate for corporate universities as vehicles for adding tremendous value to organizations, the concept is not right for every organization. It is not right to create a corporate university when it is viewed merely as a marketing gimmick. If people aren't coming to your training programs, relabeling them a corporate university may initially treat the symptom-low attendance-but it won't cure the disease (which is usually a case of having programs that people perceive as lacking value).
The other reason for not creating a corporate university is not having a clear and compelling reason to do so. I have spoken to dozens of people who told me that they were starting a corporate university because their boss read something about corporate universities and said, "I gotta get me one of them." Someone in the organization was then picked to create a corporate university. Since the mandate can be as nebulous as, "Create a corporate university," it is easy to succeed at reaching that low bar. However, it is virtually impossible to have any real success in terms of adding value to the organization and making a difference when there is no real strategic intent behind the plan. Without any purposeful objectives tied to organizational strategy, it is generally not a good idea to create a corporate university for the sake of having one. In fact, this can be quite damaging to an organization if, sometime later, a genuine strategic corporate university is conceived. People will remember the ill-fated marketing gimmick and will not embrace the concept when there is a real need for it.
So when should you have a corporate university? When there is a genuine strategic need for one. If there is a clearly identified need that involves the development of people, a corporate university can be a valuable strategic tool. Remember: a true corporate university is a strategic tool tied directly to helping an organization achieve its mission.
Corporate University Functions
Although strategic is the key word in defining a corporate university, this book is devoted to the part of the definition that discusses activities. The definition uses some fairly specific words to define a corporate university, but the word activities is quite vague, and deliberately so. The reason for this ambiguity is that there are many different ways that a corporate university can fulfill its role of cultivating individual and organizational learning, knowledge, and wisdom. At the time the definition was written, I knew I could not possibly name all of those different ways and that many had not yet even been conceived.
As I've spoken to numerous corporate university professionals over the years, I have compiled a list of these various activities. The list is long, but it is not meant to be comprehensive. First, I am sure I have overlooked some viable developmental methods. More important, I am even more certain that by the time you read this, innovative corporate university professionals will have created new and exciting ways for corporate universities to develop people and add value.
Here is the list of activities and functions that corporate universities can engage in:
Designing training programs
Delivering training programs Designing managerial and executive development programs
Delivering managerial and executive development programs
Assessing technology options
Delivering e-learning or blended learning programs
Managing vendor relationships
Marketing programs internally
Marketing programs externally
Evaluating the corporate university
Managing university partnerships
New employee orientation
Library and electronic collections of information
Research and development
Although this list is not intended to be exhaustive, it is nonetheless instructive. The first lesson it demonstrates is that there are many ways to develop people in addition to training. Beyond that, many of the functions listed-knowledge management, succession planning, coaching, mentoring-are not new ideas. What is a recent development, however, is the notion that these functions can be managed as part of a corporate university. Not only can they be part of a corporate university, I would argue that they should be managed by a corporate university, or at least have some degree of corporate university involvement.
When I work with people charged with creating new corporate universities, I give them this list and ask them to create four columns, labeled "responsible for," "involved with," "outsource," and "won't do." For each item on the list, I ask them to think about whether their corporate university will be responsible for this function, involved with it, outsource it (which still might involve oversight by the corporate university), or just won't do it at all.
The last column is perfectly acceptable because although every function on the list could be managed by a corporate university, I know of no corporate university that could do everything on the list, nor would it need to. Depending on the size of the organization, its goals, and a number of other variables, some of the functions on the list might not be necessary.
However, what every function on the list does have in common is that they all relate to people and their development. And while some items on the list are traditionally the responsibility of other departments (for example, human resources usually is involved with strategic hiring and new employee orientation), all of these are development opportunities, and therefore corporate university involvement makes sense.
Consider the example of new employee orientation. At one end of the spectrum are the companies that do half-day orientation sessions explaining the benefits plan and other basic information (for example, how many holidays employees get). At the other end are the strategic efforts to accelerate the acculturation and engagement of new employees, vital components of new employee success. When I speak to groups of corporate university professionals, I ask how many are involved with the various functions on the list. Five years ago, I saw only a few hands go up as I asked this question about new employee orientation. Now I routinely see more than half the hands in the room raised. What was formerly a standard human resource function has become a strategic corporate university function. And this is true of most of the activities on the list.
It is also interesting to note some things that are not on the list, for example, degree programs. Programs leading to associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees remain the exclusive province of traditional universities. A study in 2000 went in search of degree-granting corporate universities and discovered fewer than ten in all of the United States and Canada (Thompson, 2000). The trend for corporate universities to stay out of the degree-granting business has not changed since that study. Due to the complexities of degree programs and the barriers to entry (primarily accreditation), corporate universities that wish to provide degree programs (sometimes customized) for their employees have found it much more efficient to form a partnership with a local traditional university. That's why "managing university partnerships" is on the list but not "offering degree programs."
Also missing is academic research, the kind that traditional research universities undertake. Publishing articles in academic journals would not help develop people or expand organizational capabilities, so it is generally avoided by corporate universities. However, research and development is on the list. Most large companies have a separate research and development department, but some have embraced the idea of having the corporate university administer the process of employees' conducting research that will benefit the company. One of these, Enclos Corp., is profiled in Chapter Nine. Enclos University administers innovation grants that offer money or time away from other tasks (or both) in order to create a new product, service, or process that the company will be able to use.
The absence of degree programs and academic research demonstrates that despite the similarity in names, corporate universities and traditional universities do not have overlapping functions. They certainly cannot be viewed as competitors, except possibly for the very narrow space of executive development programs. These programs are typically not a core part of a traditional university's mission, although many do perform this function. So in some cases, internal corporate universities can be viewed as competitors to university-based executive development programs. But in other cases, savvy university-based business schools collaborate with corporate universities to create customized degree and nondegree programs.
How This Book Is Organized
Some chapters in this book are dedicated to many of the functions already noted in this chapter. In fact, this book is devoted to telling stories about how corporate universities have successfully integrated these functions into their responsibilities for developing people and organizational capabilities. A next-generation corporate university is one that goes beyond training to integrate numerous methods for the strategic development of people.
The chapters in Part One focus on the strategic role of corporate universities. In Chapter Two, Aimee George-Leary and Ed Cohen describe how to build a holistic development framework, which they define as one that is linked to all people processes through the organization, and they use their experience at Booz Allen Hamilton as a case study. They begin their chapter with five words that effectively capture the spirit of this book: "Development is more than training."
In Chapter Three, Karen Barley, president of the consulting firm Corporate University Enterprise, looks at learning as a competitive business variable in order to explore the notion of learning as a strategic business process.
Part Two is devoted to some internal functions of corporate universities. As corporate university professionals look over the menu of possible functions of a corporate university, they need to decide what they are going to do. The next question is equally important: How are they going to do it?
One solution that many organizations have decided on is e-learning. They cite the potential cost savings and the ability to widely distribute learning products as major benefits. What they fail to see is that e-learning has frequently not lived up to its potential of helping people learn and helping organizations achieve better results.
In 2001, I attended the Virtual Corporate University Week conference. Hundreds of people descended on San Francisco to talk about how they were going to get rid of all of their classrooms and have a completely virtual corporate university. (I wondered at the time why they all needed to descend when we could, theoretically, have held the conference virtually.) Within three years, I knew of no corporate university that was completely virtual. This one-size-fits-all approach didn't work. First, different subjects lend themselves more readily to e-learning than others. For example, how to use a certain software program might be a better e-learning subject than how to conduct better face-to-face conversations. Also, not every employee in an organization has the same learning style. Some people might take very well to an online learning environment, but it just won't work for others. There is no single solution that will effectively engage everyone in an organization. The notion of a completely virtual corporate university has faded away.
Hybrid programs and blended learning then became the buzzwords. The idea was to blend together classroom sessions with electronic programs and presto, you've got a learning smoothie. But what organizations in fact discovered was that although they could generally get people to show up in classrooms, the e-learning piece was more problematical. People would start these programs but never quite finish.
I knew this part of the business was in trouble when I heard someone bragging that he had developed an e-learning program that was so good that it had a 60 percent completion rate. People looked at him with envy. I tried to imagine a traditional university bragging that its programs were so good that only 40 percent of its students dropped out.
It's not that e-learning didn't hold a lot of potential. It always did, and it still does. The problem is that the focus is usually on the technology (the "e"), not the learning. Although it is not impossible to truly engage people using technology, it is very difficult. Organizations have discovered that most (not all, but most) e-learning programs and blended learning programs have not delivered on their promise.
Excerpted from The Next Generation of Corporate Universities by Mark Allen Copyright © 2007 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
PART ONE: CORPORATE UNIVERSITIES AS STRATEGIC BUSINESS PARTNERS
Chapter 1: What Is a Next-Generation Corporate University? 3
Chapter 2: Building a Holistic Development Framework 19
Aimee George-Leary, Ed Cohen
Chapter 3: Learning as a Competitive Business Variable 39
PART TWO: INTERNAL CORPORATE UNIVERSITY FUNCTIONS
Chapter 4: Splendid Learning: Why Technology Doesn’t Matter 63
Roger C. Schank
Chapter 5: Branding Your Corporate University 85
Chapter 6: Corporate Universities: The New Keepers of the Ethical Flame? 109
Philip McGee, John R. Duncan
Chapter 7: Next-Generation Evaluation: Searching for Value 129
Jack J. Phillips, Patti P. Phillips
PART THREE: DISTINCTIVE SETTINGS FOR CORPORATE UNIVERSITIES
Chapter 8: Global Considerations for Corporate Universities 169
Chapter 9: Corporate Universities in Small Companies 189
Lee E. Steffens, Shannon M. Novotne
Chapter 10: Corporate Universities in the Nonprofit Sector 209
Deborah Grayson Riegel
Chapter 11: Corporate Universities in Government 235
Kevin W. Bruny
PART FOUR: NEXT-GENERATION CORPORATE UNIVERSITY FUNCTIONS
Chapter 12: Corporate Universities as Shapers of Culture 263
Chapter 13: Mentoring Can Be Magic 287
Chapter 14: The Strategic Contribution of Corporate Universities to Leadership Coaching 307
Merrill C. Anderson
Chapter 15: Career Path Management: Using Strategic Curricula to Develop People and Build Competitive Organization Capabilities 323
Chapter 16: Succession Management in Corporate Universities 351
Chapter 17: The Role of Corporate Universities in Knowledge Management and Knowledge-Sharing Communities 371
Mark W. Allen
Chapter 18: Wisdom Management: The Missing Link Between Learning and Performance 389
What People are Saying About This
"The objective of this book is to provide innovative approaches for developing people and expanding organizational capabilities. If you also have this objective, this book is for you. Each chapter is written by a qualified author to provide the information you need."
—Donald L. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin, and author, Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels
"I was impressed with the breadth of coverage and the quality of the case studies. This book is full of practical advice and lessons learned, which will benefit the seasoned professional as well as a newcomer to the field. I recommend it for anyone who wants to start or improve a corporate university."
—David L. Vance, president, Caterpillar University
"This book takes people out of their silos—it has such a clear view of how learning and development cut across the entire enterprise. The corporate university can become the guiding force for truly integrated talent management."
—David C. Forman, chief learning officer, Human Capital Institute
"A must read for anyone interested in corporate universities. Devoid of unnecessary theory, The Next Generation of Corporate Universities is a practical road map to success, applicable to both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Existing corporate universities will improve performance and busy professionals launching corporate universities will save valuable time."
—Diana R. Oreck, vice president, Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center