Interview with Susan Feland from Stanford Graduate School of Education

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Calcey developed and maintain for the Stanford Graduate School of Business Leadership In Focus program, which is a video case collection of leaders talking about significant challenges they have faced, decisions they have made, and lessons they have learned from the experience.  Today, this content is used by academics, corporations and alumni who access this content from around the world through a controlled membership access portal. Below are excerpts from an interview with Susan Feland, the Leadership in Focus Director, about the program’s unique approach to teaching tomorrow’s business leaders.

Q: What inspired the Leadership in Focus portal?  
A: This program is inspired by Charles O’Reilly, a Stanford GSB professor and thought leader in leadership education who was frustrated by the limitations of traditional written cases and leadership frameworks.

As part of this program, the Stanford GSB has produced hundreds of video case vignettes over the past several years as a meaningful way to spark discussion and teach leadership best practices

Q: How does the portal support Stanford’s goals to bridge the gap between academia and real world corporate situations?
A: The content in Leadership In Focus is used to teach leadership and management in both academic and corporate environments.  All of this content can be easily accessed from the website and portal by users around the world.  Accompanying teaching notes may be downloaded along with the videos to help facilitate teaching and learning from the video case vignettes and capstone perspectives in the collection.

Q: What does the portal aim to achieve from a learning perspective? Is it meant to provide experiential learning and brainstorming of solutions that can be applied immediately by the students?  How are the videos meant to be used for corporate training?
A: The video cases allow us to capture the emotional side of leadership and promote an expert approach to difficult problems. Through stories, the content captures real challenges and insights to create engagement by sparking reflection and discussion, leveraging Socratic learning methods.

When coupled with suggested role-plays, stimulating discussion questions, and teaching notes, videos offer a more experiential way to teach leadership in both academic classrooms and corporate environments. 

The Stanford GSB video case vignettes drive learning around the key principles and learning objectives for leadership.  The goal for every discussion is to equip individuals with the necessary decision making skills and awareness needed to be as effective as possible. The Stanford video case vignettes are 15 minutes long and consist of 3 segments, designed to challenge viewers and stimulate thinking about leadership, values, culture, and decision-making.

In order to make the learning as rich as possible for individuals who may interact with the video cases in remote locations, the Leadership in Focus portal seamlessly links to another platform where the cases are delivered to enable individual reflection, idea sharing and a summary of insights. This design is called Crowd Accelerated Individual Learning (CAIL). These modules compose the section of Learning Modules.

Q: Who are the prominent personalities and Stanford alums featured among the videos? 
A: Our portfolio of leaders includes current and former CEOs of large organizations such as Bill Campbell (Intuit), Gordon Bethune (Continental Airlines), Anne Mulcahy (Xerox), and Herb Kelleher (Southwest), CEOs of small organizations, as well as military officers.

Q: What are the well-known business schools and corporates who use/have used this portal for training?
A: Currently there are 1550+ different universities and colleges, the top 50 Business Schools, Fortune 500 companies, the U.S. Military, Government Agencies, and organizations in 85 countries using the Stanford content in the Leadership in Focus program.

Q: Could you tell us about future plans for the portal?
A:We plan to continue to serve a wide range of users and audiences in different ways to drive engagement and learning opportunities.