Program: Action Learning Projects
Action Learning Projects (ALPs) are a practical and high-impact
way to develop your ability to think and lead across an organization by applying
what you have learned in the classroom. Yes, they are a kind-of class project, but
the difference between the typical class project and these transformative projects
is the difference between a glass of skim milk and a milkshake.
Meet Kim Sullivan, SMITH EMBA '10, and find
out why her experience with the Smith EMBA's Action Learning Project was
both transformative and life-changing!
Working with a faculty advisor in teams or individually, ALPs create practical
learning experiences by integrating knowledge gained from the core curriculum and
focusing on real business problems in real-time – outside the risks and demands
of your day-to-day job. Action Learning Projects focus on three broad areas where
we see executive skills and leadership put to the test in organizations: entrepreneurship,
business process consulting and leading change.
Three ALPs take place over the course of the program. First, you will work on
a team that will build a new business from the ground-up. Advised by start-up specialists
and venture capitalists, you’ll develop a business plan that provides your team
with experience in teamwork, analysis, information processes and presentation skills
you’ll use as long as you’re leading a business enterprise. Or imagine you’re a
consultant brought in to aid an ailing business. The second ALP focuses on
business problem solving. You may decide to examine the entire organization and choose
to reengineer its business practices. You’re tasked with assessing its mission and
goals, improving processes, allocating resources and creating products. It’s exactly
the kind of challenge you’re very likely to face today in your role – or tomorrow
as the CEO of any organization. And with your classmates at Smith, you have the
opportunity to undertake these projects and try out new leadership skills in a trusting
The final ALP focuses on leading change. This ALP gives you the opportunity,
working with Smith faculty, fellow students and your team at work, to transform
some aspect of your organization – to create a change for the better. This may be
refining a process or altering the entire business model. But you’ll do it with
the support of your classmates and the faculty at Smith, bringing the wisdom and
leadership skills you’ve developed, and the power of an EMBA to bear on your organization.
Throughout, feedback from teammates is incorporated into your leadership development
plan. Understanding how others view you and your performance is a constant theme
throughout the Smith EMBA program, and the ALPs provide excellent opportunities
to receive valuable feedback.