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Learning from the Blue Devils at the Duke Management Program

Learning from the Blue Devils at the Duke Management Program

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Duke Management Program on behalf of NACD and sponsored by Datacor, Inc.  The program, sponsored by Datacor, Inc. for NACD participants and held over a 4-day period in Durham, NC, focused on explaining the science of management by use of real-world examples and interactive activities. Taught by Fuqua professors, the Duke Management Program specifically concentrated on managing people and performance, choice, conflict, power, and systems.

As a young professional, I went into the program thinking it would be more of a refresher course on what I had learned during my college business classes. Boy, was I mistaken! Instead, the Duke Management Program was less of a lecture-driven format and more of an interactive learning experience. We students were assigned real-life scenarios at the start of each session to see how we would handle the situation at hand. This allowed me to identify what my initial approach to an issue would be, and in turn afforded me the opportunity to find the strengths and weaknesses of that approach as the session went on. At the end of each session, we were given a similar managerial problem to solve in order to showcase what we had learned and how to better our approach. 

Additionally, the wide range of lessons taught and the diverse mix of attendees from all different professional backgrounds – government, nonprofits, and the private sector alike – mean that everyone can walk away from the program having gained valuable knowledge and experience both from the coursework and from each other

As a member of NACD’s Legislative Affairs team, the session that stood out to me the most was on managing power and relationships. Building relationships is building political power, be it in the workplace or in a legislator’s office on Capitol Hill. Building consensus through coalitions – similar to the industry coalitions NACD belongs to on key legislative issues – before heading into a meeting is critical. Once a coalition is built and you have the right membership and the right objectives, your power at the negotiating table is strengthened. Power and politics are a part of organizational life; the challenge is to see that they are used rationally and to good ends.

Now that I have completed the Duke Management Program, I am better equipped to tackle issues with a more methodical and scientific approach. Good management is building better performance from each individual through effective decision-making, organization and task design, keeping motivation high, and exercise of power! I highly recommend sending at least one of your employees to this valuable program. They will come back to the job with renewed focus and a fresh set of ideas to better manage their teams and improve the overall workplace.