NC State University’s Poole College of Management Launches Business Collaboratories, a Transformative Approach to Executive Education

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Poole College responds to private sector demand with a collaborative executive education model designed to enable companies to solve deep problems, develop future leaders

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North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management today announced a new name and new approach for its executive education programs: Business Collaboratories

“We developed Business Collaboratories to provide a highly focused, action-oriented executive education program that can help companies work toward transformational change, to enable them to better compete and solve problems with lasting results,” said Paul Mugge, executive director of the program.

“After three years of downsizing and with the rise of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC nations) as major players in the business landscape, companies are feeling the pressure to refocus their business models and re-invest in their key people,” Mugge said. “But resistance to change often runs deep, challenging every aspect of operations, including the organization’s structure, processes, skills and the very culture to innovate and change,” he said.

Business Collaboratories function as business clinics, each with a cross-disciplinary team of faculty and other subject matter experts who work collaboratively with a company’s business leaders, using proven tools and techniques to diagnose an organization’s toughest business problems.

Together, the team of experts and company leaders work through a wide range of operational challenges that may include technology evaluation and commercialization, new product and service development, supply chain operations, enterprise risk, and organizational behavior.

The end result: solutions for the company’s immediate needs and development of organizational capabilities to prevent the problem from recurring. “Then, the key to organizational change is educating the organization, from the leadership team on down,” said Ira R. Weiss, dean of the Poole College of Management.

The Business Collaboratories teams have expertise in managing innovation, entrepreneurship, product and service commercialization, supply chain operations, organizational culture, enterprise risk management and other functional disciplines, Mugge said.

“This is a key focus of our faculty in the NC State Poole College and our partners in business and industry, as well as our network of researchers affiliated with the college’s Center for Innovation Management Studies and other programs,” he said. “The collaborative environment helps assure that participants gain immediately applicable business solutions that yield results.”

Business Collaboratories was formally announced during the April 12-14, 2011, spring sponsors meeting of the Center for Innovation Management Studies, for which Mugge also serves as executive director.

“We have been testing the Business Collaboratories concept for the past year, providing positive results for participating companies, including BASF, Bayer Crop Science, Biogen Idec, BP, Eisai, EMC, IBM, NCBC, Novozymes, Xerox, and others located in here in Research Triangle Park,” Mugge said.

“The market is telling us companies need more from their academic partners,” says Dan McGurrin, newly appointed director of Poole College’s Business Collaboratories. “Leaders of companies committed to transformative change need access to research and learning methods that challenge their business models, innovate processes, prepare them for change, and, at the critical stage, help implement the change. Poole College’s Business Collaboratories provides these resources in a fully integrated, highly focused, truly collaborative executive development program,” he said.

Impacting the Bottom Line
Business Collaboratories provides an alternative for companies that may have been shying away from traditional executive education programs because they could not identify an immediate return on the investment, Mugge said.

Its ‘action learning’ approach is built around a problem or business challenge presented by the client. By linking training projects to real business priorities, the companies have seen their investment of time and resources being transformed into realized business improvements.

Participants – the company’s key personnel responsible for leading change and improvement – work with the college’s network of industry and academic subject matter experts in an open collaborative environment, applying research-based knowledge, real world experience and proven tools and assessments to develop results-focused improvement projects.

Companies that have sponsored Collaboratories programs for their employees have reported that projects completed through this ‘teaching hospital’ method have more than paid for the cost of the training, Mugge said. “Participants report that they appreciate working on real world problems – provided by their senior managers – rather than someone else’s case studies,” he said.

“The Poole College of Management is uniquely positioned to offer Business Collaboratories,” Mugge added. “It is one of the few business schools in the nation dedicated to the management of technology and innovation, and has long-standing collaborative relationships with NC State’s colleges of agriculture and life sciences, design, engineering, humanities and social sciences, textiles, and veterinary medicine and can capitalize on their technical prowess in building business solutions.”

Most importantly, he said, “Poole College itself is an industry-facing, market savvy institution.” Its network of active corporate partnerships crosses many industry segments, as reflected in part through its centers and initiatives:

  •     Biosciences Management Initiative (BioSci)
  •     Center of Innovation Management Studies (CIMS)
  •     Enterprise Risk Management Initiative (ERM)
  •     Supply Chain Resources Cooperative (SCRC)
  •     Technology Entrepreneurship Commercialization Initiative (TEC)

Business Collaboratories works with faculty in each of these, as well as with students in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Global Innovation Management Studies (MGIM) programs in the college’s Jenkins Graduate School.

“Business Collaboratories taps the collective expertise of this knowledge and experience-rich network to help businesses learn how to diagnose and solve their problems,” Mugge said.
For additional information

See how NC State's Poole College of Management is evolving executive education, create a custom Business Collaboratory for your firm or consider any of our open enrollment programs, call 919.515.4445 or visit

About NC State University and the Poole College of Management
North Carolina State University is the largest university in the state, with a long-standing reputation for its engineering and technical programs. Executive Programs at the NC State Poole College of Management reflect the college’s emphasis on management of technology. The college’s curriculum emphasizes real world, applied learning, and requires students to work on projects and internships with many of the technology-driven companies in Research Triangle Park, N.C and beyond.

The NC State Poole College of Management’s Business Collaboratories are contracted and delivered through the NC State Executive Education LLC, a non-profit (501)(c)(3) under the NC State University Foundation, Inc.

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