Revamping a Generation of Future Leaders

In the world of higher education, the idea of the “flipped classroom” approach to teaching is nothing new. Students use technology (social media, websites, the Learning Management System, etc.) to learn about a topic, then come to class ready to apply the concepts to a form of practical, scenario-based discussion. In corporate learning and development, the “flipped classroom” approach is a lesser-known concept.

When I was hired on at my current employer, the first project I was asked to work on was to pick up where the previous Instructional Designer had left off. They had a leadership development program that was being redesigned and the previous ID left in the middle of the process. Here’s how the original version of the program went:

  • Students would come to class with no idea of the topic of the day.
  • Upon arrival, students would receive a booklet, containing the PowerPoint slides for that topic.
  • The instructor for the class would spend the entire class reading from the PowerPoint slides.

During the initial meetings that I had as I started evaluating the project and the progress they had made to that point, something became very clear — the program was not designed in a way that makes the curriculum tangible for students after they leave the classroom’s 4 walls.

Throughout the redesign of all 13 modules/topics in the program, the focus was centered around how to make the topics clear for those students who were not currently the President/Manager of their location, but rather someone who had an unofficial leadership role within their organization. Many of the students aren’t in a position (during the program) to enact change, some having to wait 2-3 years before actually taking the reigns.

To help make the topics relatable, we redesigned the delivery using a hybrid and flipped classroom approach. We implemented a Learning Management System (at the time it was Canvas) to deliver what the students had previously been learning during the lecture time, paired with discussion forums, individual assignments, and online quizzes to ensure the students understood the content. That left the face-to-face meeting time as a way to reinforce the content, having the students engage in meaningful discussion on the topics and applying the content that they consumed online to a variety of practical examples.

In addition to redesigning the delivery of the curriculum, we implemented a capstone presentation into the end of the program. During this 30-minute presentation, students are expected to present their 3-5 year strategic plan for their individual Local Company. Some of the items that students are expected to research, develop, and present on during their presentation includes:

  • What is their current and desired market area?
  • What is the current financial health of their Local Company?
  • What are they projecting as their financial standing 3-5 years from now?
  • What can the larger organization do to help the Local Company achieve those goals?

This redesigned program began accepting students in the Fall of 2015. As of this date (January 2018), approximately 275 employees have completed the program. In asking for feedback on the success of the program from the organization’s Area Leaders, they unanimously indicate that graduates of the program have a greater ROI and return on sales at their companies, and that their companies have in many cases surpassed the goals that were shared during the participants’ capstone presentations.

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Matthew Evins

Matthew is the Founding Consultant with BOLT Group, LLC. Focusing in leadership and team development, Matthew has 10 years of experience working with faculty, staff, administrators, teams, and individuals to reach their maximum potential.