Is your business mindset up to date?

    As a local college instructor, I am encouraged to see among the night-time adult students an increasing number of business executives. Mildred Horvath, chief executive officer of Social Rehabilitation and Residential Resources Inc., for example, became quite successful with no formal education, having learned to achieve her goals in the industry. Yet, at over 60 years of age, she is now back for formal education and is convinced that she is getting lots of valuable learning for her money.

    Some of the executives are in college because they receive tuition reimbursement as part of a compensation package from their current employer. Others hope that having an additional degree will help their prospects of being promoted. A third group does not feel secure at their present jobs. They realize that most of their peers have better education.

    Many of the executives are looking for an opportunity to share their knowledge and teach. In the college system, that typically means they have to have advanced degrees. So, the ones most committed to teaching have to commit to many years of learning. Quite a few of them are busy taking notes about teaching, not just the subject at hand. Many of them are eager to present, so that they can polish their teaching skills. Coaching and passing on their knowledge may well be the preferred retirement option for many present day executives.

    Yet most executives are in class to learn. The world is rapidly changing, and the more astute observers of that change seek to change with the world, rather than be left behind.

    Today’s customers are not willing to settle for standard mass-produced goods and services. Rather, they desire a custom experience that is rapidly available and cheap. This shift from mass production to mass customization is quickly rendering obsolete most of traditional business understanding.

    A shift from craftsmanship to mass production devastated entire industries and population groups, while causing others to prosper tremendously. A move from mass production to mass customization has even greater potential for both prosperity and devastation. And thus, the executives that are starting to see the cracks in the mass production approach are in search of the better way.

    Executives work harder and put more effort toward their assignments than their classmates. They go above and beyond the requirements because learning itself is valuable to them. Executives have low tolerance for untested academic theory. They want to know what works and why it works. Many of them have learned the secret of learning from everyone, good and bad, instructors and classmates. By taking charge of their education, executives manage to learn a lot even out of seemingly poorly taught classes. But if the instructor is any good, these executives-turned-students will use every opportunity to pick through the instructor’s brain, discuss their situations and bounce their ideas with the instructor.

    Executives commonly contribute tremendously to everyone else’s classroom experience. They share specific applications and talk about their opportunities to apply the principles they are learning. It is very common for my students to say that they have applied what they learned in their company. Executives take even that to the next level. Quite often they use classes as springboards to come up with new strategies, develop new systems or figure out how to approach their markets differently. It is exciting to see cohesive plans for multi-million dollar projects come together as a side product of executives turned students. Mildred, for example, has engaged in restructuring the entire agency based, in part, on techniques she has learned in the classroom.

    The market is ripe for a monumental shift. The people who position themselves to take advantage of that shift stand to benefit tremendously. This shift, like any other, will benefit the well-informed and the ones willing to take action. The shift touches every aspect of doing business: from mass production to customization; from selling to partnering; from treating people as assets or resources to treating people as humans; from land and capital to intellectual property; from static to flexible; from hierarchy to a network; and from short term profit to purpose-driven.

    The executives that are taking charge and leading this shift will prosper tremendously, and being in the classroom is a crucial element in that process.

    Oleg Tumarkin is the owner of FutureWorks Business Expert, a private business training company. He is an adjunct professor of business at Lakeland College, an adjunct instructor of business at Concordia University Wisconsin and adjunct instructor of business and IT atITT Tech Institute.

    Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

    Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

    No posts to display