In 1951 a number of companies in Western New York recognized the need for continuing business education to service the development requirements of their employees. A group of graduates of the Harvard Business School responded by developing a case based management course. The Management Development Course has changed and evolved over the past 70 years. Each year the casebook is revised to incorporate some of the most popular cases and notes at HBS Publishing. More than 1700 Western New Yorkers have attended this course.
In 2005, a program was added specifically for the managers of non-profit organizations. While the course uses the same teaching methods, the Not For Profit Management course uses different cases, has teaching staff specializing in non-profit management.
In 2013, a program for management development in the health care field was added. This program is moderated by graduates of the Managing Health Care Delivery program at HBS.
From 2015 through 2019, we presented the Advanced Management Program. A smaller class with a more intense experience than our basic program, the AMP program was for graduates of our other programs who wished to further refine their management skills.
In 2020, the Covid epidemic interrupted our in-person classes. In the fall, we held a shortened version of the NFP Program via Zoom. Both students and moderators considered the experiment a success. Consequently, we plan full programs through remote contact until we can return to the classroom.
Most of us work in the same company or functional area for several years. The objective of all three programs is to challenge the participant with situations and problems that they have not encountered in their regular job experience. The participant’s discussion of case studies broadens their management experience and sharpens their skills in dealing with new and ill-defined problems. The courses are not for credit nor are they sponsored by the Harvard Business School. It is simply an opportunity to learn in a local, non-competitive environment, without the costs of travel.
Our students come from manufacturing and service organizations, profit and non-profit, cultural and social service organizations, as well as the legal and health care professions. Some are considering an MBA or MSW; others already have advanced degrees. All are looking for the broadening experience that a case study course offers.
Each course runs only once a year. The original Management Development course runs in the fall; all the other programs run in the spring. The normal enrollment ranges from 12 to 30 students. Some of the comments of prior students are on the following pages.
Student responses to the question:
“What would you tell someone considering this class?”
“Take it! It is an excellent course that teaches you how to analyze a problem and learn from experience.”
“If you are looking for an opportunity to help develop your creative thinking skills, this is it.”
“Don’t think twice! Do it. I cannot imagine anyone not being enriched by this program.”
The majority of all three programs are taught utilizing the case method that has been used by the Harvard Business School for over 100 years. A case study describes an actual situation or issue in an organization. As in real life, the case situation typically has a multitude of solutions, each with its negative and positive aspects. The objective of the case discussion is not to find a specific solution but to explore the alternatives and the process of selecting a course of action.
The faculty and participants share the teaching-learning experience by working together to define and resolve the issues in the case study. Many notes and articles are included in the course to broaden the students’ understanding of the subject beyond the specific issues illustrated in the case study.
Each participant analyzes the assigned materials for class discussion, to identify management implications of the issues described, and to decide an appropriate course of action. In class, students discuss their analyses and recommendations for action.
Every participant brings their own set of skills and experiences to the class. The broad range of insights and solutions sparks a lively discussion involving vital aspects of
management: making decisions quickly using imperfect and/or incomplete data; challenging assumptions; effectively communicating and negotiating with others of differing opinions, and changing business tactics and/or strategy as new insights are gained.
|“The cases make you think like a general manager.” Marketing Manager – Manufacturing Company|
The faculty members are graduates of Harvard Business School programs, occasionally supplemented by individuals with particular knowledge and skills. Many of the faculty are presidents of companies; some have started their own businesses. Most have served on Not For Profit boards, and others are Executive Directors of not for profit organizations. Their experience covers a broad spectrum including marketing, manufacturing, banking, real estate, consulting, service, and health care in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Their skills and backgrounds are key elements in the case study learning process.