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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 environment.

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.