People

If wine has taught us anything, it's taught us about harmony.

Corporate programs. Developed in harmony with your organization's goals.
 
The ranks of Sonoma State University's School of Business and Economics faculty are filled with professionals who have made their mark in academia by staying relevant. Leveraging data and research into the business world so organizations can execute on it. 
  
As we reach out for deeper impact in the North Bay community, Sonoma State's School of Business and Economics seeks opportunities with organizations of most any size to engage with us in creating custom corporate learning programs. Built with your organization's unique strategic context at the forefront, SBE can craft and deliver learning experiences that drive toward results that we define with you. 
  
It's a harmonious approach, one in which our Dean, Dr. William Silver, is well versed. Prior to arriving in Sonoma, Dr. Silver directed and was a senior associate Dean for Executive and Professional Programs at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. He led the transformation of Fortune 500 companies through the collaborative development of custom corporate programs. 
  
We asked Dr. Silver to give us his insight and vision for what it will take to deliver corporate programs here in the North Bay. 

Dr. Silver, why should an organization consider partnering with a business school for executive learning? Why not use a consultant, or a for-profit company? 

Working with a University provides many advantages. Unlike consulting groups, a university has experts that span all business disciplines. This affords your organization the right technical business acumen for the needs you identify, but also those cross-discipline needs that will make the learning more effective in the workplace.

For instance, I helped create a large custom corporate program for a financial institution while in Denver. They desired to increase the financial acumen of their employees from the top of their organization to the bottom for obvious reasons. But as we created the program it became clear that they also needed leadership training to see that the learning took deep seed within the organization. Instead of having to work with a separate consulting company to try and coordinate those modules, we were able to easily incorporate and align it ourselves.

Academia also understands the big picture extremely well. Your organization doesn't work in silos: all the functional areas are interconnected. Since we have experts across each business discipline, and we're accustomed to researching organizations to develop context, we can grasp the strategic imperatives by connecting the complexities. It's a core competency at which academia tends to excel, and we have experts at the ready in just about every functional area that you can imagine. 

Lastly, specific to the School of Business and Economics here at Sonoma State, you'll find our faculty to be that rare mix of scholars and teachers. It's not an ivory tower here. They are talented scholars: professionals that non-academic enterprises usually don't have in their organization who know how to research, sort the data, and make meaning of it. But they are also teachers: professionals who are involved in the business world, who use data relevantly, and teach well so you'll walk away transformed by the experience. 

You mentioned the interconnectedness of the functional areas responsible for organizational success. What is the best way for an organization to evaluate what they need? Where should they begin? 

Begin with the end: What results are you trying to achieve?  It all starts with an evaluation a company's key performance drivers. This is something, by the way, that can be very difficult and in my experience often requires outside eyes to help define. We can assist with that.  

We then build a customized curriculum designed to deliver results directly mapped to those desired outcomes. We'll draw from a deep resource of proven resources: our executive MBA curriculum, other consulting engagements, and our published methods. 

The curriculum is always built with actual company data and around company projects and deliverables. Most importantly, we can transform the leadership in your organization to ensure what an organization learns will be executed in their strategic context.
  
Can leadership be learned? Can organizations actually develop leadership within their ranks or do they have to hire natural leaders? 
 
It depends on how you define leadership. If you agree with me on the fundamental aspects of effective leadership for results within an organization, they absolutely it can be taught.

First, there is no "Truth" for leadership effectiveness. There is no one size fits all. It is a process. What can be mapped can be managed. Processes can be taught.

Second, an effective leader is aware of what is happening and acts accordingly. This requires emotional intelligence, not rigid dogmas. It requires adaptability within different contexts, not a template. Those are disciplines that can and have been taught.

I've spoken and published about leadership, and here's what I'd consider to be the most important leadership abilities, all of which I've seen not only taught, but used to transform leaders and their teams, units, and organizations.
  
  • Awareness (Having knowledge or cognizance) 
  • Flexibility (The quality of being adaptable or variable) 
  • Balance (To bring into or maintain in a state of equilibrium) 
  • Versatility (Capable of doing many things) 
I'd also add that leadership capabilities are developed over a person's career. And unlike professional sports or art, there are very few "practice fields." A leader in business uses a tiny fraction of their time to practice, and is executing most of the time. Exactly opposite of athletes and artists. So finding those practice fields--like a corporate learning program at Sonoma State--is critical to learn leadership effectiveness.
 
Our practice field starts with understanding yourself. Much is behavioral change-- a different learning model from other quick-fix leadership programs--but a critical first-step in understanding what motivates those you lead.

It's a journey and each person is unique. Teachable? Absolutely. Hopefully someone reading this has already learned something about leadership!

Give us a sense of what the process looks like. How exactly will SBE partner with organizations to build a program? What would an example of a program look like? 
 
The process starts with a conversation about business results.  What is going well in your organization and how we can build upon it; create more of that success.  And what are the challenges? Where are the performance gaps and how can we close them?

We then spend time inside your organization learning about your culture, your business drivers, and your unique performance challenges. Together we'll build a curriculum focused on creating an immediate impact. Participants will walk out of each session with new business tools and new strategies for delivering results. 
  
Two recent programs we conducted illustrate this process. A national insurance company wanted to work with us to develop a leadership program for its field agents to help them succeed during these challenging times. We shared economic trends and analyses, identified high leverage opportunities, and worked with the agents on business strategy, financial management, sales and marketing, and leadership and execution. In another program, a large hospitality operation wanted to improve its customer's experience. We developed and delivered a two-month program with modules on guest relations, change management, and continuous service quality improvement.
  
So how should organizations get started? Who do they contact and what should they be prepared to talk about? 
 
I would enjoy the opportunity to speak with any business leaders interested in learning more. Or they can also call Dr. Robert Eyler, our Director of Executive and Professional Programs.

Reach me at william.silver@sonoma.edu or Dr. Eyler at robert.eyler@sonoma.edu.

A few good first conversation points would center around your organization and its strategic context. Generally, are you in a startup, second-stage growth, turnaround, realignment, or other such environment? It would also be helpful to have an early conversation about what you hope to achieve through a custom corporate program. That will likely change as dig deeper, but coming prepared with some sense of what success looks like will help. 
 
Contact SBE
Contact SSU
Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics. Reach.
1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377