Professor Ethan Bernstein

At home with Harvard Business School

You go to Harvard. It doesn't come to you. Right?

Written by Andrea Walters FAIM
5 minute read
Professor Ethan Bernstein

Professor Ethan S Bernstein, Harvard Business School

Usually, yes. And it means that for most executives, learning in person with the best minds in strategy and leadership from Harvard Business School is an unattainable aspiration.

We can’t justify the travel, escape our commitments at work and home, or stretch the budget. And with ongoing global uncertainty surrounding COVID, it’s even further out of reach.

All this makes the opportunity of in-person access to Harvard faculty rare indeed.

Unless that is, you are one of a limited number of leaders attending the exclusive 2022 Senior Executive Forum (SEF) this July in Perth.

The 2022 Senior Executive Forum

Now in its thirtieth year, AIM WA is proud of this unique and enduring signature leadership event taking place in Western Australia.

Nowhere else can you spend four days immersed in complex learning and scintillating dinner conversation with revered, big-picture thinkers from Harvard Business School.

And you share this remarkable experience with other C-suite executives from the region, developing a new network of peers.

This year’s Forum “Leadership and Executing New Strategy” is delivered by gifted educators, Harvard Professors David J Collis and Ethan S Bernstein, using the case study method.

What is the Harvard Case Study method? And what does it teach you?

A tried and tested method used for over a century at Harvard, case study teaching explores real-world business scenarios. It exposes students to diverse thinking and leverages the collective knowledge and experience of professors and peers.

In his 2021 article What the Case Study Method Really Teaches former Dean of Harvard Business School, Nitin Nohria, describes how cases are carefully crafted. Much like real life, they often omit key details or contain extraneous information. They place students in the position of the protagonist, discerning important details, identifying personal biases and making and advocating decisions.

It makes for challenging and nuanced discussion.

“Cases teach you how to apply theory in practice and how to induce theory from practice,” his article explains.

Furthermore, case method develops "meta-skills" such as critical analysis, judgement, decision-making and action. Mr Nohria says educators define these as, “long-lasting abilities that allow someone to learn new things quickly.”

In other words, the skills you develop via case study learning are transformational, with broader relevance and impact beyond the scenarios in focus.

When it comes to strategy, success or failure is determined retrospectively. It’s only with hindsight that we know whether we achieved our aims.

This makes the case study method a very powerful learning tool. It allows us to review scenarios and assess results that have already played out in the real world. We derive critical lessons for the future. All guided by expert Harvard Business School faculty.

So, who are the prestigious Harvard faculty coming to Perth in July? And what expertise are they travelling all this way to share with us?

Professor David J. Collis and the changing approach to strategy

In a world now characterised by change and uncertainty, Professor Collis will explore new thinking around strategy.

Bringing thirty years’ experience at Harvard Business School, he is excited to return to Perth to take our region’s top executives through this learning experience.

In preparing for the Forum, Professor Collis remarked that traditional approaches to strategy aren’t sufficient to respond to the challenges and opportunities facing organisations today.

“Whilst we still need to pursue a comprehensive and well considered strategy for achieving competitive advantage, the emphasis has turned to the dynamic of execution and the creation of value in new business models.”

Professor Ethan S. Bernstein on how talent is now leading strategy

As one leader described to Professor Bernstein, the question asked more often today is “who” rather than “what” is the key to our organisation’s future.

Professor Bernstein studies the impact of workplace transparency and will focus on developing talent and a leadership mindset during his visit to Perth.

“In an age in which agility in execution becomes increasingly core to successful strategy, a leader’s capacity to develop talented managers and foster a leadership mindset gains even greater importance.”

Is the Senior Executive Forum for me?

AIM WA Chief Operating Officer Dr. Shaun Ridley has spearheaded the Forum for many years. He has seen first-hand the impact it's had on an impressive number of alums during this time.

Dr Ridley describes those who benefit the most from this experience as C-suite executives, or those with the potential to rise to this level.

He explains that the Senior Executive Forum is so different from any other leadership development in the region due to the quality of the people involved; the outstanding faculty and peer-to-peer interaction with other executive participants.

When it comes to impact and return on investment, the Forum helps attendees acquire judgement, unpack and make sense of complexity and apply this higher order thinking to challenges in their own organisations.

“Often people look at the case studies from other industries and question their relevance. It turns out that this is exactly the point. You have to think through issues without the benefit or hinderance of operational understanding of the industry," Dr. Ridley explains.

“I’ve had the privilege of seeing the Harvard faculty in action on many occasions. They never fail to leave me inspired and full of insights I can apply to my everyday work.”

How do I find out more?

Learning with the best in the world, surrounded by an impressive cohort of executives from Australia and the region, makes this the most prestigious development experience available.

The 2022 Senior Executive Forum takes place on Wednesday 27 – Saturday 30 July at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Perth and is a residential program. You can secure your place here.

For more information on this world-class learning experience here in Perth, speak with Dr Shaun Ridley, or Alex Quinn on 08 9383 8000.