We Live In A VUCA World—So This Online MBA Is Schooling Students In Change Management

Nottingham Trent University's Online MBA is specially designed to prepare its students to manage change in a volatile business environment

We live in a VUCA world—a business environment that’s Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

With the volatility of current global politics, disruptions in industry dynamics, and the complexity of contemporary organizational processes, it comes as no surprise that the Online MBA offered by the Modern University of the Year 2018 is specially designed to prepare its students to manage change.

Faye Taylor, course leader for the Online MBA at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), says the program provides students, not just with traditional management theory, but also insight into the most cutting-edge business ideas. The program is reviewed and updated on an annual basis;

"This approach ensures that the modern drivers of change and the dynamic nature of the business environment is at the forefront of our students' minds," Faye explains.

"Change is often disliked and sometimes resisted, which can bring about unnecessary conflict working contrary to the positive outcomes the proposed change seeks to bring about,” she continues.

"The ability to plan for and manage change is an essential skill of leaders."

Indeed, the importance of equipping students with the skills to strategically manage change cannot be understated in today's business and political climate. Faye describes change as inevitable. If businesses cannot adapt to it they lose competitiveness, yet many obstacles hinder smooth transitions.

Business leaders must know how to successfully adopt and implement change within complex organizations. This involves appropriately evaluating factors resisting the transition, and employing tactful strategies to align interests in favour of change. Leaders must draw upon multiple disciplines to do this effectively.

On Nottingham Trent’s Online MBA program, students are first equipped with the theoretical principles to manage processes of change. They then undertake a Global Business Simulation, described by Faye as an "integrated strategy simulation game based on the automobile industry."

Faye explains that as part of the simulation, students are expected to develop "a business proposition and implement a profitable long-term strategy in a turbulent and competitive market."

To accomplish this, students must create a product driven by a market opportunity; implement strategy in a dynamic external environment; understand the competitive landscape; develop corporate infrastructure; allocate scarce resources effectively; and explore international opportunities.

"By working together in a team, students learn much about developing and executing a strategic plan, managing change, and making decisions," Faye notes. Students have the opportunity to incorporate tutor feedback following each decision-making cycle.

The Global Business Simulation component fits in with NTU's broader emphasis on experiential learning. Students are encouraged to be reflective and reflexive from the outset of their Online MBA.

The ability of students to manage change on a more personal level is facilitated during the Professional Leadership Development module.

"This module encourages students to critically self-reflect and set agendas for their own development," Faye says. "The plan they create as part of the module is regarded as a dynamic document that will evolve throughout their MBA. Students are offered the opportunity to discuss managing personal change with their bespoke academic mentor."

Faye explains that participants have access to a Personal Journal, in which they can reflect on their experiences. This is then used in academic mentoring meetings to develop strategies for facing challenges that students might have noted.

"As they progress, participants encounter many experiential elements," Faye says, "those in which they are asked to draw upon their personal professional experiences and apply new concepts; those in which they conduct research on behalf of an organization; and those in which they conduct a commissioned consultancy in a simulated or physical environment.

"The opportunity for experience and reflection is embedded within the fabric of our Online MBA. Only through reflection on experience can we learn from both our successes and our mistakes, and drive our performance forward."

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