Davenport to add entrepreneurship training to LMDI line-up

November 7, 2009
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Davenport University has restructured and updated its corporate training efforts, giving a fresh launch for the tried-and-true topics of management, leadership and certification test preparation.

“It is a new beginning,” said Frank Novakowski, associate dean for management, marketing and international studies in Davenport’s Maine School of Business.

“We have a very good reputation. We’ve provided services in an outreach way to the community for well more than 20 years,” he said.

“Times have changed, needs have changed, technologies have changed, emphasis has changed. And so it really gave us a wonderful opportunity to re-package and re-organize the way we did this and come out with a new offering that quite honestly goes a lot deeper and touches a lot more resources than we ever had before.

“Heretofore, it was more skills based, and didn’t connect as well as we are connecting it now with the academic schools.”

The Leadership & Management Development Institute was reorganized over the summer and has moved from Davenport’s operations area into the academic arena in the business school, Novakowski said. That now gives access to academic depth for LMDI programs and allows some of them to be used for credit toward degree programs if an individual decides to pursue one. It also gives the LMDI the opportunity to utilize the college’s other areas of emphasis: health care and technology, he said.

“The courses, at a category level, haven’t changed. What has changed is a stronger desire to customize and offer more breadth of service,” added Max Gibbard, LMDI program director. “If an individual company needs a specific service or training around a specific capability — especially in the business, technology and health-related fields — we can dive deeply into those specific capabilities.”

LMDI offers a menu of courses that run from as little as four hours to as many as 32. Topics are arranged under the general headings of “Leading People and Organizations,” “Managing Strategies and Processes” and “Developing Personal Skills.”

These courses are based on the competencies put forward by the Center for Creative Leadership, an award-winning global nonprofit based in North Carolina that is devoted to executive education and leadership research, Gibbard said.

LMDI also provides instruction for certification exams offered by organizations such as the Project Management Institute, Institute of Certified Professional Managers and the Society for Human Resource Management. Those certifications include Project Management Professional, Cisco Certified Networking Association, Human Resources Professional and Certified Professional Manager.

“This is not new to us … and we’ve gotten some very nice recognition,” Novakowski said.

And in a third learning style, LMDI provides educational opportunities through five Business Simulation scenarios. Similar to simulations used in Davenport’s degree programs, these can be delivered via computer and book in a variety of settings, Gibbard said.

“It helps them get information in a way that’s more fun and engaging” and appeals to younger employees, he added.

He said businesses have come to rely on Davenport’s LMDI programs on a regular basis. Other than the certificate programs, most classes are adaptable to each company’s needs, Gibbard said.

“The corporate relationships have been long standing in the companies that we do business with,” he added. “In reality, each company decides and defines how they want to implement that for themselves.”

“There’s no end to that,” Novakowski continued. “Whatever is in the course catalog can be adapted, modified, to be used, delivered on-site, really anywhere, any place — and that includes using the Internet and an online format.”

Faculty and adjunct instructors available to LMDI programs can number as many as 400, but fluctuates according to need, Gibbard said.

“They had to have had significant corporate, practical experience,” Novakowski said. “They are a practitioner-scholar versus a scholar. They resonate well with corporate training needs and the corporate environment.”

One of the LDMI’s recent projects was to deliver a five-month online course on a variety of management topics to 65 employees of one company in 18 countries, Gibbard said.

“That was never done before. We didn’t offer our traditional leadership development course work in our corporate training vein in this way,” Gibbard said.

Today’s work force is comfortable with computers, and online classes can trim the lost productivity, Novakowski noted. “The blended format allows you to get the content across with the least amount of impact in the working environment,” he said.

In the short-term, expect some offering in the area of entrepreneurship, Novakowski said. Many people interested in starting businesses don’t have the time or resources to enter a degree program, he said.

“West Michigan’s entrepreneurial community is growing. There is a renaissance of entrepreneurial thinking going on. There’s a lot more support for that today than there was even three years ago,” Novakowski said.

“We also recognize the need to deliver courses to more of a general public. And we are going to be doing that starting this coming year, 2010, where we will have courses specific to the needs of entrepreneurs.”

LDMI programs are available through Davenport’s 13 Michigan campuses as well as the main Lettinga Campus in Caledonia Township.

“You would think that in a time of economic challenge and the condition our economy in the state of Michigan is in, there wouldn’t be a lot of dollars to invest,” Gibbard said. “In reality, corporations are recognizing that they can’t afford not to invest in their people. What’s at stake is the survival and future of their organization.”

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