Heider Mindset Curriculum: Ensuring Success for the Future
Heider Mindset Curriculum: Ensuring Success for the Future

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”   – Isaac Asimov

“The world as it is.” Applied to the current business realm, the world is a blend of traditional disciplines and approaches – finance, accounting, marketing – with the new, disruptive kids on the block – business analytics, big data, AI.

“The world as it will be”? Well, that is up for grabs. A projected 85% of business sector jobs that will exist in 2030 do not exist today. Hence, adhering to a “business as usual” approach will leave students short of the necessary skills to perform in the workplace and advance in their careers.

Yet business schools are populated by economists and accountants, not clairvoyants. So how are educators to prepare tomorrow’s professionals who will, more so than any generation before, be practicing in unchartered territory?

This is what Heider College of Business leaders asked themselves nearly three years ago. It considered several factors:

  • the Association to Advance the Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the accreditation body of U.S. business schools, call for business schools to creatively remodel their curricula;
  • industry executives and educators jointly exploring new directions for business education; and
  • leading Fortune 500 companies conducting their own forums and publishing their findings, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers’ “Investing in America’s Data Science and Analytics Talent, The Case for Action.”

The Heider College of Business formed a task force to identify which skills will be needed to succeed in the workforce of the future and to construct a plan of action for addressing these needs. This task force included Debbie Wells, PhD, senior associate dean; Matt Seevers, PhD, associate dean; Kristie Briggs, PhD, associate professor of economics; Lee Dunham, PhD, professor of finance; Maggie Knight, DBA, assistant professor of accounting; Jeff Milewski, MA, instructor of economics; Dustin Ormand, PhD, assistant professor of business intelligence and analytics; Regina Taylor, PhD, assistant professor of management; and Melissa Woodley, PhD, associate professor of finance.

The group determined that strong instruction in academic theory combined with the opportunity to put this knowledge into action is necessary to student learning. This is something Heider College of Business excels at already.

But, using Henry Mintzberg’s book Managers Not MBAs as inspiration and guided by information gleaned from industry practitioners and the curriculums of leading business schools, the task force concluded that theory and practice must be augmented with boundary-crossing competencies, “soft skills,” that “allow people to be increasingly adaptable in the face of change,” says Seevers. Communication, teamwork, perspective, project management, global understanding and critical thinking are examples of boundary-crossing competencies.

The task force also determined that graduates must be proficient in data fluency across disciplines, and that students and professionals alike need to be able to step back from a situation to reflect, not simply react.

Thus, the task force formulated the Heider Mindset Curriculum, a holistic approach to business education centered on six distinctive mindsets that reframe how the college teaches business curricula. The mindsets serve as guideposts for evaluating existing courses as well as for creating new coursework. They are:

  • Analytical Mindset: encourages critical thinking skills, risk analysis and the ability to sort through and visualize data in a way that will enhance students’ ability to make decisions in any industry or role.
  • Cross-Cultural Mindset: encourages students to be inclusive and appreciative of diverse perspectives, essential in an increasingly global economy.
  • Collaborative Mindset: reinforces leadership skills such as teamwork, communication and empathy.
  • Action Mindset: values entrepreneurial thinking, which is seeded in the idea that if one can improve something, one should. Creative problem-solving and the confidence to take initiative are emphasized as key skills.
  • Service Mindset: expresses a direct connection to Heider College of Business’ mission: “Guided by our Jesuit heritage, we exist to form leaders who promote justice and use their business knowledge to improve the world.”
  • Reflective Mindset: challenges students to not just act, serve and collaborate, but to also reflect on those experiences in accord with Creighton’s Jesuit tradition and values.

Students have both academic and extracurricular opportunities to fulfill the requirements of each mindset, and they will track their progress via an online dashboard called the Heider Mindset Achievement Portfolio (H-MAP). The H-MAP gives students a status report of where they are and what mindset requirements they still need to fulfill.

Why upset the academic apple cart if you already have a nationally recognized business school? Because, says Seevers, “We take the 40-year perspective. We are providing an education for today as well as tomorrow.” And the tomorrow current students are facing is vastly different from the tomorrow past generations have met.

“Patterns of career progress have changed dramatically in recent years,” says Wells. “Industry is changing, so the way we educate must follow suit.”

In the coming months, we will explore in depth the different facets of the Heider Mindset Curriculum – how cross-campus collaboration enriches it, how the renovations of the Harper Center will reinforce its mindsets, and how the H-MAP brings the mindsets to life. Look for the next installment of the series this summer.