TRANSITION SPECIFIC PROGRAMMES (General Management Programmes)


Better known under the generic umbrella «General Management Programmes», transition specific programmes are designed to help leaders succeed at different transition stages in their career.

Those programmes follow the natural path of an executive’s career:

In the first instance, people come from university and are recruited into a team contributor role.

Based on their performance, they are sooner or later promoted to a first leadership role: leading a team. At this point, they need to shift the way they succeed from getting results through their personal contribution to doing this through the work of others.

They are then promoted to the next level: to be the leader of several team leaders, sometimes as a functional head. At this level, the challenge increases further: they need to lead people as smart as they are or sometimes smarter than themselves and often people that know more than they do.

The next promotion brings another requirement: as leader of leaders, they must now understand and anticipate the impact of their actions on the success of the company as a whole and on the other main departments or functions within the company.

If they still succeed, they will be soon promoted to a general management role, leading a business or the company.

For a few, the final transition comes at the moment that they are promoted to be the leader of a significant company on a national or international scale. They now need to become a Global Leader.

In summary, you will find 3 broad categories of transition-specific programmes:

TRANSITION From Team Member to People Manager

TRANSITION From Functional Head to General Manager

TRANSITION From General Manager to Global Executive




We suggest using the following criteria to make the best choice for an executive education programme (listed by order of importance).

1 – Return on investment
«For anyone investing in executive education the most important question is that of measuring the benefits of such a course. Although difficult to assess, there are means with which to address the issue…»  in «Which executive programme?» EIU – The Economist Intelligence Unit, fourth edition, 2001
To be able to assess the return on the investment, the brochure of the programme should be clear about the benefits for the individual and about the benefits for the organization. In that sense, it is worthwhile concentrating the company’s investment in as few programmes and providers as possible in order to increase the provider’s knowledge about the organization and the strategic reason for sending your employees to those particular programmes. It is important to check whether the school offers both preparation before the programme and post-programme analysis and other kinds of follow-up actions. This is also a good way to make sure that you are perfectly clear about the business or career-development issues to be addressed by the participant in the programme.

2 – Length of the programme
Shorter programmes are increasingly favoured in today’s business environment but again it all depends on the objectives underlying the registration of a participant in a particular programme. Longer programmes offer more time to gain new, particularly soft skills, to link together multidisciplinary skills or to go deeper into hard skills or specific, technical ones like finance or strategic thinking. When offered in a modular structure, they also offer time in between modules to experiment and apply what has been taught in earlier modules. It goes without saying that relationships between participants and members of faculty on a longer programme are more likely to last longer.

3 – Content and Faculty
Even for similar courses, Executive Education programmes are obviously not perfectly substitutable products. Approaches from one school can significantly differ from another, and will meet participants’ goals to varying degrees. Also, no Faculty is identical. If you want to participate in a class led by Rob Goffee, you can only go to London Business School. If you want to hear C.K. Prahalad, considered as number one thinker in the 2007 global ranking of business thinkers, you will have few choices but to go to the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Also in relation to Faculty, it should be kept in mind that a high rating in research and publication does not always guarantee a high rating in teaching, although all top-ranked business schools are of course competing to have the best teachers in their programmes.

4 – Culture, location, technology and facilities
Again, even though we are only considering in this report the very best of international business schools, studying for example in central London is not the same as doing so in Fontainebleau. Each school has its own ambience and culture, and will be better or worse fitted to a participant’s particular taste. Also, distance to travel, accommodation and facilities available can all have an impact on the ease or difficulty of going to a particular school. To assess these criteria, the best way to get information is to talk to past participants of the programme of your choice (more information on this).

5 – Networking and International exposure
Another important benefit in sending employees to open enrolment programmes is the opportunity to meet and work alongside managers from different organizations, sectors and national cultures. Depending on your own organization, you may want to review the client list of the school to check if these fit well. In many cases, contacts made during a programme last for several years and sometimes lead to business opportunities for the company and very often to increasing the participant’s network of contacts.

6 – Price
Not surprisingly, the last criterion to consider is price. Prices usually do not differ significantly between schools for similar programmes and duration. Of course, accommodation and travel cost must be considered and sometimes wide variations in exchange rates can point to very tempting bargains, as in the last few years with the US dollar and more recently with the UK pound. In any event, we believe that the long-term benefits associated with keeping a durable relationship with a few schools or with choosing the best-suited programme for the participant’s objectives outweigh by far the shorter-term benefits of cherry picking the cheapest programmes available at any time.

source & further reading: «Which executive programme?» EIU – The Economist Intelligence Unit, fourth edition, 2001



Despite some criticism and claims that open programmes have very little impact on the development of executives, they continue to play an important role alongside other development methods like job-rotation assignment, on-the-job training, executive coaching and others.

This longevity is due, in our opinion, to a number of important benefits that they deliver when properly used, i.e. when both the participant and the sponsoring executive have a clear understanding of the business and personal issues to be addressed and when the best-suited programme is carefully selected to maximize its impact and the return on the investment.

Benefits of open enrolment programmes include:
1 – Enhancing knowledge – they provide a toolkit of specific skills for participants to take away; they are an excellent way to enhance specific functional knowledge for managers coming from other functions, e.g. finance for non-financial managers, or to enhance more advanced strategic skills for functional senior managers or among general managers, e.g. strategic marketing for senior executives, and to introduce functional managers to general management issues, as in the classic general management programmes.
2 – Spreading the latest management ideas – leading management thinkers often take part in open programmes bringing into the class room the result of their latest research and study of best-practices among their clients.
3 – Cost effective and ready to use solution – the scope of available subjects is enormous; schools often run several editions of the same programme over the year; open programmes are the only affordable training solution when the size of the organization does not allow for a customized programme to be tailored to a group of employees.
4 – Reflection, renewal, networking and benchmarking – they provide time and an opportunity to reflect away from the day-to-day demands of work, allowing participants to look outside the company, gaining exposure to other national and corporate cultures, benchmarking themselves and their company against their fellow participants and other companies, taking space for renewal, creativity and innovation to occur on their return to work.

Source & further reading: «Which executive programme?» EIU – The Economist Intelligence Unit, fourth edition, 2001, isbn 0862181593