torstai 16. helmikuuta 2012

AMBA accreditation: Behind the Scenes

So we´ve been re-assessed by AMBA (Association of MBAs) and we received an accreditation for the maximum period of 5 years, wonderful. An official announcement (in finnish) about that came out quite recently. This blog post has a different angle. This is my short personal reflection about the process in a more general level. Instead of going into the results of the evaluation as such, I´ll try to point out some things from the learning perspective, from "behind the scenes" of the process like they say in the movie business.

I´m not saying that we managed to perfectly maximize the learning value in every following aspect that I´m about to present. But what I do truly believe is that these points might provide some food for thought when considering organizational development also in other settings.

Here we go.
I think that the accreditation:

Makes you THINK
In accreditation process, you have to present your program and all activities related to it very thoroughly. This might not sound surprising at first, but actually in order to present your case you have to figure out what your case actually is… The process really forces you to think about what you believe in, what you value, how you strategically position yourself , what are your strengths etc. Now that is a learning process worth going through with your executive education team. Instead of just running your program it is valuable to reflect upon why you actually run it the way you do!

Makes you DO

Accreditation process requires you to be very clear about strategic development of your organization. Again, also this might look like a no-brainer. You should be willing and able to develop your activities even without an assessment team appointed from the mighty City of London, right? Just like you should be willing and able to go through a vast amount of learning material even without being enrolled to any training program? Well yes, but on the other hand good structures for learning and strategic development never hurt anyone…

Makes you LEARN

In accreditation process you have to present a response to the conditions and recommendations set by the assessors and outline the progress made after the last assessment. And if you happen to have a unique pedagogical approach (like in our case), you also have to defend some of your principles into some extent. That is when people who take their work and themselves seriously might get a bit emotional (yes, believe it or not, even the cool “stiff upper lip” Finnish people). 

It is a kind of mental balancing because you want to be as open minded as possible but on the other hand you are struggling with the fact that it is hard to be creative regarding things that create you, your identity and professional profile. In addition to traditional benchmarking, quality guidelines and best practice kind of stuff, you learn a lot also from way you react to different things and the feelings you phase during the process.

Makes you SEE
And in the end, success in accreditation gives you the certificate. We need moments to celebrate our achievements because they make us see the development in the long continuum. There are good reasons why we value the symbols that make our hard work and gains explicit. Just like an MBA graduate values an MBA diploma that makes he/she to see that something special has been achieved and the hard work has really paid off.


Pasi Aaltola
Director of MBA Education

PS: With accreditation cinema, there is always a sequel coming: " The Return of the Assessors". Developing yourself and your organization is a continuous thing.
The show must go on.