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Pioneers of the 21st Century

What is the program about?

This program helps you and your organization to (re)discover what you stand for, how you can keep pace with this seemingly crazy global environment, how you motivate yourself and inspire others to be creative and innovative to discover new markets and opportunities, and how you bring more passion to your life and workplace.

The program is a path towards re-inventing yourself, your team, and your organization. It is tailored to unleash the full potential of individuals and organizations in the light of disruptive change in the political, economic, technological, environmental, and societal spheres.

A fresh look at management concepts

Ever since the financial crisis 2008 we all know that volatility, uncertainty and complexity call for a fresh look at managerial concepts and techniques.

We need bold, agile organizations that drive change, act swiftly, and learn continuously from their experience. We need organizations that use collaboration and collective wisdom to transform themselves into organisms reflecting and serving human needs, be it from a co-worker’s, a  customer’s or business partner’s perspective. We need organizations whose business models are sustainable and in line with the requirements of our environment.

Courageous leadership

On a personal level, we need leaders with the urge of breaking free from the rat race in which they find themselves locked in many organizations. We need leaders who dare to question conventional wisdom and who are courageous to explore new terrain where no organization has been before. We need leaders that are grounded and self-anchored in light of a paradigm shift at the beginning of this century, away from the focus on profit maximization and orientation towards material gains, towards a more integrative and balanced approach that aligns profits with the needs of our planet and people.

The program provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to be a “Pioneer of the 21st Century”.

What is unique about the program?

The curriculum combines strategy and innovation with strengthening self-development and leadership skills:

  • Integrative, multi-layered approach: it sees the key to success in balance and alignment. People and organizations are considered to be a part of life, as organisms in contrast to mechanisms.
  • Intellect & emotion: Coupling intellectual strength with emotional and body intelligence
  • Personal growth: The program targets at strengthening your self-leadership skills and self-development
  • Strategy and innovation: driving change and organizing agility provide you with state-of-the art knowledge, tools and techniques on how to act on a large scale, how to bring your projects into life, how to transform your organizations to make them fit for the future.
  • Your Pioneers Project: During the program you will work on your personal business
    project with coaching from the experts and peer to peer coaching. You will transfer your know-how into business.
  • Develop pioneer qualities: being courageous, open-minded, self-anchored, appreciative, action-oriented and focused
    • Module 1 - Global Strategy and Innovation (3 days)

      In this module you are provided with state-of-the art knowledge, tools, and techniques on how to act on a large scale, how to bring your projects to life, and how to transform your organizations to make them fit for the future.

      • Introduction and structure of the program
      • 12 Alignments: a tool for analysis and problem solving in organizations
      • Leadership exercise
      • What is the global (business) environment characterized by?
      • Find, develop and integrate (21st century) innovative business models
      • Work on your own project
      • Visual thinking, business design and customer discovery
      • Presentation by a start-up: learn from their leadership principles
      • Fundamental elements of successful strategies
      • Strategy development quick and dirty: Five basic questions to find an answer for when to develop a strategy
      • Customer centricity to improve your competitive position
      • Process and methodology of strategy development in all its phases
      • Prerequisites (hurdles and pitfalls) and tools for a successful strategy implementation
    • Module 2 - Driving Turbo Change (2 days)

      The Module “Driving Turbo Change” teaches you to understand transformation as a process and enables you to apply well proven methods and tools.

      • What is the target: Organizational learning vs. agility vs. adaptability?
      • Five core disciplines to build a successful learning organization
      • Adaptive organizations - Myth or truth
      • Essential tools for the 21st century: Large group intervention methods with special focus on Real Time Strategic Change
      • Reaction of people facing change
      • Methods for improved room to maneuver to successfully deal with resistance to change
      • Eight steps to successfully transforming an organization
      • Put your business ideas to the test: Every participant will put his idea and project into reality
      • Prototyping, execution and customer acquisition
    • Module 3 - Co-Creation in Agile Structures (3 days)

      This module deals with a great challenge most organizations face in a world of disruptive change: They are tailored and developed in a system that was based on standardization. This goes for products and services, as standards increase efficiency and drive down cost. This also goes for people, be it co-workers, customers, or other stakeholders, as standards lower complexity and provide clarity. In the context of people, we often refer to homogeneity.

      Typically, managerial efforts in conventional organizations are targeted at streamlining operations by further developing and optimizing standards. This is usually done within the clear-cut boundaries of hierarchical structures. Despite countless diversity management campaigns, many organizations still tend to attract homogeneous co-workers and value behavior meeting pre-set standards.

      In a globalized world full of unpredictable changes and diversity, THE standard has given way to multiple options and heterogeneity of stakeholders. The challenge within such a different organizational set-up is how to align the organization in high speed towards newly emerging requirements, and how to embrace the diversity of its stakeholders in order to take advantage of multiple perspectives and a strong creative force in terms of product and service innovation.

      To get inspired and enable them to develop new ways of structuring work, participants will have the opportunity to draw analogies between organizations in the socio-economic spheres and the cultural sphere. They will have the opportunity to experience an integral approach using their body intelligence and their emotional intelligence by interacting with an orchestra of a different kind – a symbol for the effective use of heterogeneity in itself.

      3.1 Agility in Organizations (1 day)

      Agility has various aspects:

      • Self-Management: It requires a swift change in structures and coordination mechanisms in the organization, more resembling an organism than a mechanism.
      • Slack: Everything appears to swing from one extreme to another, like the weather delivering four seasons in one day. To integrate this instability into an organization's everyday life demands letting go of inflexibility. While the old model demands lean and cost-efficient processes, volatility needs some slack to be resilient to extremes.
      • Simplicity: Everything is connected. This also applies to the changing interests of all stakeholders. It is important not to get stuck in complicated structures by creating even more rules and processes, but instead to find simplicity within the complexity by extracting fundamental principles and guidelines for action out of it.
      • Purpose-driven: Shift thinking and acting away from rigid boundaries towards an alignment through basic values and common purpose.

      Organizations need to keep the options open at all times and remain in a constant state of transformation. At same time, we know that change is costly, and achieving agility often involves sacrificing efficiency. The question then becomes how to combine operational efficiency and consistency with agility.

      • Learn about different approaches which advance the ability to compete within a state of dynamic, continued and often anticipated change
      • Study and discuss these approaches and learn how they help us to create an agile strategy, agile processes and structures, agile linkages, and agile people
      • Learn how to create an organization where people are willing to contribute their initiative, creativity and passion

      3.2 Leadership Orchestra for Pioneers  (1 day)

      Lorenz Huber presents his special guests Mozuluart. This music group combines African folk music with Mozart. An interactive day about the different types of agility in African folk music and European classical music – and how these music styles can be melted into a new synthesis.

      • Conducting session at the Conducting Automat: Directing a machine vs. people
      • Looking at music history: The continuous fight between creativity and hierarchy in Europe's music business
      • New organisation models for opera houses and concert halls
      • Melting 2 styles: how the Ensemble Mozuluart brings Mozart and Zulu music together
      • Transfer to your context: identifying drivers for and resistances against creativity in your organization

      3.3 Leveraging Collaborative Power (1 day)

      A globalized world brings a multitude of value sets and communication behavior. Within an organizational set-up, this usually leads to an increase of complexity and causes friction as organizational members and stakeholders usually lack the skills of managing diversity to turn it from a liability into an asset.

      Collaborative Power requires awareness of differences and competences to manage them in a productive and constructive way in order to capitalize on them. Only people who are willing and able to reflect on themselves are able to acknowledge and accept differences.

      Awareness about differences enables the team to use these differences consciously. Roles can be allocated based on all team members’ strengths. New perspectives are embraced and enrich the output of the diverse team. The organization grows along with creative solutions it develops through a proactive integration of various perspectives meeting stakeholders’ needs in an unprecedented way.

      Leaders of tomorrow understand their competencies and abilities and those of their teams not only as individual strengths, but they manage to leverage this diversity and develop a common strength. Corresponding to the motto “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”, the individuals and personalities are empowered through creative leadership, and their competencies and abilities are combined with the goal of common effectiveness.

      • This module deals with triggering, unfolding and cultivating self-reflexive capacities and enriches them with facts about general myths and conventional thinking
      • The module includes a critical discussion of generalizability of competences and qualities, of individualism versus collective action, and of homogeneity versus diversity
      • The module elaborates which leadership qualities and competences are potentially subject to change and which are thought to be universally valid.
    • Module 4 - Developing Self-Awareness – Be an Effective Leader

      We are most effective and become an authentic leader when we use all the knowledge and wisdom to which a human being has access. We need to integrate the intelligence of our mind with our body intelligence and our emotional intelligence. This module aims at unleashing the full potential to be an effective leader.

      In this module you will learn how to

      • grasp better complex relations between cause and effect through greater inner clarity
      • take decisions under uncertainty based on own intuition
      • leverage the intelligence of all to enable and enhance collaboration
      • get the best out of everybody by leading compassionately and empathetically
      • bring innovative solutions into life
      • inspire others through a sound feeling of self-confidence

      You will get to inner clarity by

      • tracking and questioning your thoughts
      • understanding the link between thoughts and emotions
      • tracking and understanding your emotions
      • seeing the link between thoughts, emotions and behavioural patterns
    • Module 5 - Enhancing Impact – Encouraging Communication

      Impact is about making a difference and being effective. It is about delivering the right solutions in a way that people understand and positively respond to. This requires knowledge about the REAL needs of people – co-workers, customers, and other business partners. And, it requires knowledge of how to address and reach each stakeholder group in the best way.

      The success of any (entrepreneurial) activity is based on excellent communication skills.

       This module is dedicated to developing excellent communication skills in line with a fast changing environment, characterized by ambiguity and diversity.

      • Communication process
      • Diversity of communication styles depending on background of sender and recipient
      • Needs-based communication – non-violent communication
      • Communication Governance System including mapping of stakeholders with their (hidden) agendas
      • Conscious selection of communication channels
      • Structured planning of communication
      • Golden communication rules in diverse teams
      • How to encourage failure  
      • How to communicate failure to turn the pain into gain
      • How to provide feedback in a constructive way (feed forward)
    • Dates & lectures

      1.    Introduction (3 days)
      November 5 – 7, 2018 (WU Executive Academy)
      Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Kathrin Köster

      2.    Global Strategy and Innovation (2 days)
      December 10 – 11, 2018 (WU Executive Academy)
      Lecturers: Dr. Bernhard Scherzinger, Dr. Thomas Funke

       3.    Co-Creation in Agile Structures (3 days)
      February 2018, dates will be announced
      Lecturers: Univ.Prof. Patrick Kenis (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Lorenz Huber, MAS, Prof. Heike Mensi-Klarbach (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

      4.    Developing Self-Awareness – Be an Effective Leader (2 days)
      Date: March 11 – 12, 2018 (quiet venue close to Vienna)
      Lecturers: Prof. Kathrin Köster

      5.   Driving Turbo Change (2 days)
      April 16 – 17, 2018 (WU Executive Academy)
      Lecturers: Dr. Bernhard Scherzinger, Dr. Thomas Funke

    • Target group: Who is the program made for?

      The program is for leaders from all spheres of society with all levels of managerial experience who are self-responsible, curious, and open-minded, and who strive to shape the 21st century: Corporations, NGOs, Social Businesses, Governmental Organizations.

      This program is not for individuals without managerial experience.

    • How is the program structured & delivered


      During the modules, teaching usually takes place every day from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm at WU Executive Academy. Module 4 takes place at a quiet venue close to Vienna.

      Pioneers Project

      During the program you will work on your personal business project with coaching from the experts and peer to peer coaching. You will transfer your know-how into business.


      Two coaching sessions are included in the program to promote individual and personal development.

      In line with the non-conventional content, we have chosen an adequate mix of blended learning to ensure the best learning result for the participants. Academic pioneers and experienced early-adopter practitioners combine state-of-the-art academic approaches with hands-on teaching methods:

      1. Face to face / classroom learning
      2.  Community-of-practice based online learning
      3. Project-based learning
      4. Individual personal development (Coaching)
      5. Special events with guest speaker
    • Faculty

       Univ.Prof. Nikolaus Franke, Vienna University of Economics and Business

      • Innovation
      • Entrepreneurship
      • Strategy
      • Business management

        Univ.Prof. Wolfgang Mayrhofer, Vienna University of Economics and Business

      • Career workshops
      • Self-development
      • Human resources management and leadership
      • Teams and team-development

       Dr. Christof Miska, Vienna University of Economics and Business

      • Responsible global leadership
      • Ethics & corporate social responsibility (CSR)
      • Organisational development

       Univ.Prof. Heike Mensi-Klarbach, Vienna University of Economics and Business

      • Diversity und Corporate Governance
      • Leadership
      • Identity

      What others wrote about Prof. Mensi-Klarbach:
      "Heike Mensi-Klarbach is one of those academics who think that research should make life better, not more complicated. She is a highly devoted scholar and knows that organizational life is key in shaping people’s thinking, talking, and acting. Hence, she is convinced that who wants to make a difference should take a start by understanding why things are the way they are. Through asking the right questions she makes people in her surrounding rethinking taken for granted stances. One of her outstanding professional abilities is to combine economic and sociological thinking to develop a fuller picture of how business and organizations work. Heike is fascinated by people who (have to) fight for what others see as natural, and she loves dusty books."

      Univ.Prof. Patrick Kenis, Vienna University of Economics and Business

      • Linking theory and practice
      • Relational thinking
      • Tolerance of ambiguity
      • Goal oriented
      • Sense of humor

      What others wrote about Prof. Kenis:
      "Patrick Kenis has worked and lived in five different countries and his ability to use his knowledge from having conducted research, having taught and having experienced different cultures and institutional systems in different countries turns out to be a rich source for his teaching. He also easily connects insights from different scientific fields since he collaborated with economists, psychologists, political scientists, sociologists, law researchers, computer and information scientists, and medical scholars. Patrick is fascinated by insight from others and to link experiences and concepts in classroom settings. It does not come as surprise that he himself became an expert in 'relational thinking'. Moreover, he likes ambiguity and has a good sense of humor."

      Univ.Prof. Philip Nell, Vienna University of Economics and Business

      • Global strategic management & strategic problem-solving
      • Organization of multinational companies
      • International marketing strategy & international business

      What others wrote about Prof. Nell
      "Phillip Nell has lived and studied in a wide variety of countries and has gained considerable industry experience as a strategy consultant with Roland Berger Strategy Consultants before his academic career. This experience enables him to bridge the theory – practice gap in his courses. His focus lies on the complexities of managing globalization and multinational firms – topics that he is teaching with incredible energy and motivation. His teaching also profits from lots of interaction, innovative simulations and exercises as well as in-depth case studies that he developed with corporate partners."

      Prof. Dr. Kathrin Köster, University of Applied Sciences Heilbronn

      • Transformational leadership in international context
      • Strategy & change management
      • Consciousness learning, continuing learning und coaching
      • Diversity management
      • Project management in international environment

      What others wrote about Prof. Köster:
      “Kathrin Köster distinguishes herself by her high energy levels, her unreservedly positive outlook and her motivational strength. She knows how to engage in unique ways with the needs and concerns of people and organizations. In her transformation work she offers an excellent balance between scientific knowledge and a practical approach. Through her long-standing experience in multiple organizations on different continents she succeeds as few can in changing perspectives. With her insight and intuition she can reveal new horizons and help others to find their own authentic way and to take off. Her enthusiasm and her vitality are absolutely contagious"

      Dr. Thomas Funke, Co-Founder Tech Quartier

      • Start-ups & foundations
      • Entrepreneurship & innovation
      • Intrapreneurship
      • Idea development & implementation

      What others wrote about Thomas Funke:
      "Thomas Funke distinguishes himself by his unique ability to unify his energy and drive with inner calm. With his insight into both the academic and the private sector he is able to bring leverage to both worlds equally. In his workshops he offers expertise on diverse entrepreneurial and innovation matters in a highly professional way but always at eye level. He knows how to motivate people and how to get the best out of everyone. He is an exceptionally positive thinker, who always sees the challenge rather than problem."

      Lorenz Huber, MA, Conductor, Trainer, Business Coach

      • Conducting and leadership
      • The learning organization
      • Teambuilding

      What others wrote about Lorenz Huber:
      "Lorenz Huber’s passion is the „ideal organization orchestra” which makes the impact of leadership behavior come alive in such an excellent way. In 2001, Lorenz Huber was the first person in the German-speaking world who developed the concept of the “leadership orchestra”. One of his areas of focus is the application of musical methods in leadership development and team building. Especially the customer who feels that he is not musical will feel enriched after the training and will improve his leadership skills significantly. Lorenz Huber, in the most sensitive way, understands how to introduce people to the art of conducting, a terrain that is unknown to most of us. At the end of the day, after the performance with the musicians, the participants have learned more about themselves and their interaction with teams."

      Dr. Bernhard Scherzinger, MBA, Management Results Consulting GmbH, CEO

      • Strategic management
      • Operations management including business process management
      • Reorganization
      • Project management

      What others wrote about Dr. Scherzinger:
      "Bernhard Scherzinger incorporates profound knowledge with wide practical experience leading to highly applicable information. He is just an awesome teacher with a highly interactive and humorous presentation. He is inspiring and challenging. Since he has consulted and trained managers in an international context for more than 15 years he has collected business experience spanning a wide range of industries. His core disciplines of strategic management, operations management, process management, change management and learning organizations allow him to generate a comprehensive and holistic view of organizational improvements. This all together is pure benefit for you and your organization!"

    • Certificate

      You will receive a university certificate from WU Executive Academy, which certifies your program participation and the details of your course performance.

      Prerequisite for the reception of this certificate is your successful participation. This is defined by your attendance at each of the five modules as well as the completion of your business project. The biggest merit, however, will be what you take away personally and how you develop individually within the course.

Pioneer Qualities - Our Understanding

Being courageous

Means to be in the front line, making decisions and taking responsibility for their consequences, be flexible, believe in yourself, be open for improvisation, admit mistakes and learn from them


Means to be open to differences, be ready to change perspectives, be able to lead diverse teams, be open for other ideas, never stop developing yourself, show empathy, be open for change, be self-reflected


Means to be self-confident, grounded, be mindful with your own and other´s resources, be authentic, dare to question conventional solutions


Means to appreciate yourself and others, accept different views, celebrate your achievements, learn from and with others, build on your failures, act empathetically


Means to turn ideas into action, be creative, to explore new terrain, generate and share ideas and knowledge, connect people, to take effect through others, to create impact


Means to be targeted and effective, to think strategically, prioritize, to be a strength-oriented leader, to act 80/20

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