Strategy course simulates confusion in real life

The course concept representing the Aalto spirit collides data and practice. Facilitators from the partner company Palmu are present at each lecture.
Theory and practise meet on the course in a great way, say Aalto students Todor Vlaev (left), Sebastian Krebs and  Johannes Schreiner, an exchange student from St. Gallen University in Switzerland.

Students have been working in small groups, drawn line segments to describe the implementation of the strategy on the flap board and attached post-it notes to mark the key points. The team is prepared to give a three-minute presentation of its work, but suddenly Mikko Leskelä from the service design agency Palmu only gives them two minutes to present it.

‘We simulate real situations and the confusion in real life,’ explains Petri Aalto, also from Palmu. ‘Business consultant’s time with the management team easily becomes shorter than promised, contact persons change and companies may merge.’

The group calmly gives the presentation in a more compact form and is ready to answer questions from the consultants and the rest of the group.

Pekka Enroth, a master’s student of Management and Strategy (right) with his team presenting the implementation of their strategy case.

Course concept is based on a dialogue

Service Business Designer Mikko Leskelä, Managing Director Petri Aaltonen and their colleagues act as facilitators on the Strategic Change course that is part of the Management and International Business programme. The leaders of the course, professors Janne Tienari and Eero Vaara, have wanted to bring a less often used, dialogue-based concept to the teaching situation.

‘We try to show the students how researchers, management consultants and business managers look at strategy-related phenomena,’ Janne Tienari explains.  The professors have worked on the course concept with their company partner from the beginning.

Professionals from the Palmu team are present at each lecture. During the first hour of each lecture, Tienari and Vaara introduce research data, and the rest of the time is used for practising different working methods with the Palmu team members.

‘The course has been very good. First you get an introduction to the world of consulting and then you can test the theory through discussions,’ says Pekka Enroth, a master’s student of Management and Strategy. 

‘The idea on the course is that when the company representatives do not visit the course only once, it is easier to deepen discussion about themes that have been treated earlier,’ says Tienari. ‘It is possible to go back to topics and create bridges between different themes.’

‘It feels that the leaders of the course let the content develop so that we will find something new. We learn to use what we have learned,’ Enroth explains.

 

 

Service Business Designer Mikko Leskelä from Palmu facilitating the student teams.

Students praise the feedback, customers the connection to the university

Students praise the open attitude and honest feedback from the Palmu team. ‘They may say ”that’s a nice idea, but it would never be approved”,’ says Todor Vlaev, a master’s student of Strategy.

Palmu representatives have brought case studies from their customers Lähi-Tapiola and F-Secure to the course and the students have also visited the companies. ‘When the students ran into problems in the client companies, we congratulated them. You couldn’t really create a better exercise situation for the lectures,’ says Mikko Leskelä.

Leskelä and his colleagues are happy about the dialogue the course has generated between the students and the professors who study strategy.  ‘Our customers value the connection to the university. In addition, the students, who all think clearly, give us energy,’ Aaltonen and Leskelä explain.

A growing company also needs new employees. ‘I have already spotted a few students who I would like to continue the discussion with,’ Leskelä says.

Details of the course: mycourses.aalto.fi

Johannes Schreiner and Todor Vlaev present the case work of their team.

Teaching on the course Mikko Leskelä, Eero Vaara, Petri Aaltonen and Janne Tienari. Photos by Julia Weckman

Details of the course: mycourses.aalto.fi

 

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