Adapting international entrepreneurial education to reality

man teaching woman in front of monitor

Many universities and colleges are still educating international management as if the change in the work style of the Covid era did not happen. Our student entrepreneurs deserve a better base to manage their teams and companies when starting their careers.

I am fortunate to often talk to students in international development directions in Europe and the United States. I feel I’m helping to prepare this new generation of managers to stand up in a changing world by giving guest lectures and workshops in higher education.

It’s also gratifying to talk to students who are incredibly motivated to become international or transnational entrepreneurs. The energy I get from talking to them is incredible. The feedback on how they see their world and future is enlightening. 

And while we often talk about how to develop businesses or expand organizations in new regions, there is still a lack of understanding in managing an organization that works beyond borders.

However, the conversation stalls as soon as I start talking with them about the organization. They seem to have yet to discuss the organizational methods to organize work in different locations in class. It’s often very silent in the room when I point this out. The whole conversation on having a workstyle with people you cannot see daily and how to control the outcome of each of those departments in other places needs to be added to the curriculum’s core. 

The whole idea of asynchronous management, which is finally making its way into our knowledge organizations, has yet to reach schools. Universities and Colleges need to talk about how to organize teams and, thereby, walk away from the 2010-style of management.

The new workforce entering our work fields has never worked in the old industrial style; They immediately got dropped into the post-COVID hybrid and remote work reality. We must look at how we help our management students organize these businesses.

As soon as we’re all in different offices at the same time, complexity could arise if we’re still working with our industrial models.

Whether we have one person working abroad or teams scattered around the world, the way we address them is the same.

By developing an asynchronous workstyle first and adding synchronous moments when needed, and not the other way around, we allow these new managers to create an organization in which everybody can understand how to communicate with one another, how to feed data back in the system, and how to ensure mutual goals are achieved, no matter where everybody is located.

When an organization expands across time zones, this becomes even more apparent when a part of the team is in Europe apart in the Far East, some of them in the United States. The organization suddenly needs to adapt to a new work style. By organizing a company from day one in a manner that allows them to go international, we avoid going through hefty change management later in life.

By designing an organization ready for its international expansion, we don’t need to look back on it. We can focus on the growth itself: conquering new clients in new territories and working with talent that we find globally.

In a well-managed international company, information is available no matter our time zone. So in teaching our graduates and university students, we should be more focused on organizing a post-COVID organization. We should look at how we allow them to manage an outcome-based organization.

A digital workplace is not a future achievement for these companies. It’s the base they need to get their company going and succeed in their expansion without having to scramble and go back and figure stuff out later.

man wearing black adidas jacket sitting on chair near another man wearing blue jacket

Some colleges I work with have understood this and started adding asynchronous models to their curricula. Still, more often than not, we’re lacking our students in this field.

Please, please, add post-covid knowledge organization management to their studies. Can we show them the strengths they develop by designing the work organization right from the start? 

Asking for a friend who’d like to succeed in this new world. 

This post is also available in: Dutch French

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