A Free MBA Class about Small Business you need to Check Out


May 2, 2013

plantBy Bob Coleman

A little off topic this morning, but if you aren’t aware of the higher education disruptor, here goes.

Coursera has partnered with over 100 universities (e.g. Cal Tech, Stanford, Columbia, University of Edinburgh) to provide college level classes free to students around the world.

This week begins the start of a four week course, “Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part II.” (I missed the first part last Fall.)

Taught by University of Virginia Darden School of Business’ Ed Hess, this is an MBA style course with video lectures, case studies and outside readings.

I’ve read the first two case studies and viewed the first couple of lectures, and I am hooked.  This is cutting edge, really cool stuff.  Very applicable stuff to small business lenders.  Plus, world class instruction by an excellent professor. And did I mention this is free?

Here is the synopsis of the course.

“This course focuses on the common human resource (“people”) challenges faced by existing private businesses when they attempt to grow substantially.  PART 1 OF THE GROW TO GREATNESS COURSE IS NOT A PREREQUISITE FOR TAKING THIS COURSE.

“Most entrepreneurship courses focus on how to start a business.  Few focus on the next big entrepreneurial inflection point: how do you successfully grow an existing private business?  This is the focus of this Course.  It is based on the instructor’s research and thirty years of real-world experience advising private growth companies.

“This Course will focus on the common “people” challenges private growth companies face as they grow.  You will study stories of how six different private businesses faced their growth challenges.

“While strategic focus and operational excellence are necessary to build a great growth company, they are not sufficient.  Growth requires the right kind of leadership, culture, and people.  My research clearly showed that many entrepreneurs struggle with personal challenges presented to them by growth, as well as the challenge of hiring the right people and building the right management team that can play well together.  The research shows that every growth business faces common challenges.  You can learn from others’ experience—you do not have to “reinvent the wheel.”

“The Course format is story based.  Each case tells a compelling story.  You will learn from Barbara Lynch, Ryan Dienst, Steve Ritter, Randy Bufford, John Gabbert, and Mike Cote.  In addition, each week, we will discuss a different content theme.  In Week 3, you will engage in a Workshop where you will be asked to apply the Growth System Assessment Tool.  You will have the opportunity to create a Course Community of fellow students to learn from each other as the Course progresses.

“You will learn how entrepreneurs must grow, too; the “secret” of high performance; people-centric leadership; how to create high employee engagement; how to create an internal Growth System; and how to build a senior management team.”

A final personal note.  This is my second Coursera class.  I just completed a seven week course on, “The Ancient Greeks.”  The experience was amazing and well worth the investment of time.

Hope you enjoy.

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