EPIC Programme Outline
When business models, industries and whole markets are disrupted, leading your team and yourself through periods of uncertainty towards new levels of innovation is not easy. It is a razor’s edge.
The aim of EPIC is to generate intense debate, provide useful concepts, actionable insights and helpful tools for strategic leadership and innovation, and to progressively elaborate on the individual leadership and development implications.
EPIC will help you take charge in a rapidly changing environment and address the adaptive challenges you face as a leader.
The programme is currently under development. Below gives a flavour of what will be offered to the participants or you can download the EPIC Timetable 2014.
Working with world leading faculty, the first day will set the stage. It is about broadening the horizon, and about critically examining the strategic context of the magazine industry.You will explore the key trends that shape the 21st century across disciplines – from changes in demography, economic development and technology, to the opportunities and risks that we see, to the increasing fragility of the financial system – and drive a discussion about what this means for you. Building on this, you will discuss and learn, using case studies from industry leaders, to scrutinise the implications for defining strategy and your own leadership agenda. Drawing on the latest research, we will discuss which innovative trends in the industry – from new products to new organisational forms – will last and are likely to prove successful, and in which cases the Emperor is wearing new clothes.
On the second day, you will turn insights into strategic propositions. Conventional wisdom holds that successful firms opt for a single, clearly defined strategy – either going for uniqueness, focusing on intense efficiency, or selecting a market niche. Together with Oxford faculty, we will argue that it is possible to balance strategic features that are normally considered contradictory or distinct, such as groundbreaking innovation and quality, as well as highly competitive cost. The aim will be to bring this strategy back to your immediate business environment.
On day three, you will move from elaborating the strategic context to the tools for leading strategic innovation. Innovation takes place in a social ecosystem. It is the result of teamwork, not of lone genius. We will shift the focus from the obvious – aiming for breakthrough new products – to driving innovation across the organisation. As a leader, one of the key expectations will be to provide a steadying hand during the process of synthesis – and to stand your ground when it comes to experimenting in the market, accepting failure, and maintaining critical oversight of the innovation portfolio.
In the evening, the group will go to Cherwell Boat House for a relaxing BBQ, with an opportunity to go punting.
The fourth day is exclusively dedicated to you as a leader. You will develop an even better understanding of yourself, your behavioural preferences, how you interact with the world around you and relate to others, and the way you tend to respond to challenges and opportunities. You will appreciate the unique personal characteristics of yourself as a leader; reflect on how you might build on your strengths, and how you can identify areas in which specific techniques can help you become even more effective. A key insight will be that building a diverse team around you will make you more versatile as a leader.
Part of this day will be an experiential session that provides deep, immediate and intuitive insights into the effects of your verbal and nonverbal leadership behaviour, the importance of ‘giving work back to followers’, and creating and maintaining inspiration and emotional flow. You will explore the intuitive dimension of managing a team that consists of highly qualified individuals in complex and unknown environments. Finding the right balance between maintaining control and providing freedom and space to innovate, and between being decisive and inclusive is an art. In a unique Oxford setting, this will be a learning experience you are unlikely to forget.
An important part of this evening will be the final farewell dinner at a traditional Oxford college. Ever wondered what is so special about the Oxford college system? Why the college with which students are affiliated is a matter of pride and identity? Interested in why faculty dine at ‘high table’? This evening will provide the answer.
The final day of this transformational experience will focus on implementing change and the resilience and persistence that is required to achieve lasting success.
This day will equip you with the tools to shape adaptive change and to shape complex transformations for which mere expert knowledge is insufficient. Adaptive challenges differ fundamentally from technical challenges. They require the collective intelligence of all involved. They cannot – and should not – be expected to be solved only by you as a single individual. They require the commitment of your followers as well as you as a leader. They are fuzzy, difficult to pinpoint, and their definition changes constantly. Sharing responsibility for the solution of this challenge will be essential. Before returning to your workplace, we will equip you with the mindset and skills to frame and address your personal adaptive challenge, and to create a culture in which ‘positive deviance’ is explicitly welcomed and new talent can be attracted and integrated to facilitate the strategic renewal of organisations, without risking conflict of a destructive nature.
Before we part, we will work with faculty who will share deep insights on the importance of inspiration, resilience and team spirit. Following an exciting week, you will return to your workplace with a sense of realistic optimism and enthusiasm that even the most difficult challenges can be overcome – and with a practical implementation plan of how this can be achieved.
See the EPIC timetable for 2014.