Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, UMIO

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Fast Forward: Co-created Faculty Leadership (FFWD)

Inspired by whole-person learning, FFWD helps faculty establish leadership roles through dialogue, sidestepping boundaries of disciplines or academic debate, creating collective impact for personal and institutional strategy.

Call to Action

Successful academics typically develop within their discipline, focusing on excelling in research and teaching. Very little-to-no attention is devoted to developing their leadership abilities.

This is problematic at a time in which the university context has become increasingly complex. It has become unfeasible, or at least unwise, for one dean or a small leadership team to develop and implement a school's strategy.

Therefore, Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE), from 2015 onward, has embarked on a co-creative strategy development journey. One very important enabler of developing co-creators has been the creation of the FFWD leadership development trajectory.

FFWD’s design is inspired by a whole-person learning approach, designed to involve the head, heart, hands, and feet of each participant. Thus, attention is paid to what faculty:

  • Need to know (the head).
  • Believe and value (the heart).
  • Put into action (the hands).
  • Consider their place of belonging (the feet).

This approach broadens participants’ perspectives, granting them better understanding of those in other disciplines and schools throughout and beyond the university. It promotes true dialogue rather than academic debate and develops an awareness of both individual and collective impact within the university context, making way for more collaborative projects.

Innovation Description

The FFWD program is set up as a year-long journey that consists of:

  • An individual intake and coaching session.
  • A half-day introduction and official kick-off.
  • An off-site, two-day module on effective and responsible personal leadership.
  • An experience day on collaboration, creating value, and discovering opportunities.
  • A one-day module on personal impact through influencing and negotiating.
  • A two-day module on diversity and creating collective impact.

The pedagogy used during the modules reflects, as much as possible, the innovations in education that SBE as a school aims to implement. It is designed to be interactive, personal, and action-oriented and is intended to involve the whole person. The atmosphere created in the sessions aims to model the spirit of collaboration and dialogue that SBE sees as necessary for its strategy implementation to succeed.

For example, for one experience day, the participants went to the local refugee center to connect to and learn from the refugee community. For another experience day, they immersed themselves in design-thinking to develop ideas on how to improve the experience of SBE’s stakeholders in education.

In addition, the participants work in teams on a board consulting challenge related to SBE's strategy and use their learning from the modules to work on the challenge. At the end of the year, they present their analysis and solutions, or prototypes, for the consulting challenge. They also present their experience in a personal learning talk to their peers as well as to the leadership team of the school.


Since 2015, in three editions of the FFWD program, a total of 41 faculty members, both associate and full professors, have participated in the program and actively contributed to the development and implementation of the school's strategy. A number of them have moved into formal leadership positions (including department chair, program director for an education degree program, theme leader for a research theme, and others) and have found themselves better prepared for these positions.

Through the program, participants have accomplished the following learning goals:

  • Becoming acquainted with the implementation of SBE's strategy.
  • Becoming familiar with SBE’s organization and culture.
  • Learning and reflecting on their strengths, weaknesses, authenticity, and power in order to develop their ability to function more effectively and responsibly.
  • Knowing which competencies are necessary to increase their personal and collective impact.
  • Experimenting with connecting to society and adding value to SBE as a whole.
  • Experimenting with identifying and creating opportunities for SBE.
  • Building up a network of SBE colleagues, senior managers, and stakeholders.

In addition, through this program,

  • Conversations within the school on strategy and its implementation have become much more constructive.
  • The importance of the collective in relation to the individual and the department have become more valued.
  • Initiatives for innovation and change now come from various sources throughout the school rather than just from the formal leadership roles.

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