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Leadership development for all: McKinsey Academy offers online demo of Business Strategy course

Last month, McKinsey Academy launched a free public trial of its Business Strategy online course—and in less than two weeks, more than 10,000 people signed up.

Why a demo? “Our courses are relevant for a range of businesses, even those who might think they are too small, too early in their growth cycle, or have never heard of us,” explains Naveed Rashid who leads Digital Programs for the Academy. “Organizations can use our courses in many ways—whether it’s part of a full leadership and management program, an onboarding program, or to develop a specific set of skills,” he adds. In the Business Strategy course, participants learn from strategy experts, CEOs, and leaders of governments and not for profits, as well as from McKinsey’s latest insights and examples across industries and geographies.

How do we know the program is effective? “When people complete the full version of the course, we see a 40 to 45 percent jump in how they rate themselves before versus after the course,” says Naveed. “This includes their ability to ask meaningful questions to test the soundness of a strategy or how easily they can recognize and remove biases from strategic choices.”

The demo course includes approximately one-third of the full course curriculum—about 10 hours’ worth of content—videos, case studies, interactive exercises, and assessments. It introduces participants to the same strategic thinking and problem-solving approaches that we teach our own clients and consultants today.

McKinsey Academy began as a start-up within the firm in 2013, under the guidance of senior partner André Dua. A team of five converted a 100-page PowerPoint deck into a digital platform for client learning. “Open-source platforms such as edX were just starting up, and we began to look for ways to offer capability building to a much broader audience,” recalls Marc Metakis, COO, who has been with the Academy from the start.

Four years, 40-plus staff members, and more than 20,000 course participants later, McKinsey Academy stands as our global hub for leadership development, with a mix of online and in-person programs for all levels, from next-generation managers to CEOs.

What has spurred this growth? “More and more, we see companies tying their value to talent—and increasingly investing in developing their people,” says Marc. “It’s less a question of whether their people can carry out the functions of their roles and more about whether they are equipped to become the leaders of tomorrow. They know McKinsey is familiar with their business context and knows how to develop leaders, so it’s a natural progression to put their people in our hands for training.”

To ensure that people’s potential is fully realized, McKinsey Academy is continuously refining its offerings—like adding a dozen new courses every year to its roster, offering foreign translations of its content (currently in Spanish and Portuguese, with plans for Thai and Arabic next), and expanding its reach through partnerships with external leadership organizations.

Much of this growth is driven by the Academy team working closely with consultants and participants to understand what is and is not working. “For example, we know that 1.5 to 2.0 hours per week is the sweet spot for participants,” explains Marc. “We’ve applied adult learning principles so that our programs are realistic enough to fit into people’s busy work schedules, yet interactive and social enough to keep them engaged.”

Regardless of clients’ sector, geography, or size, a common theme exists in what they are each looking for—a more holistic approach to leadership learning. If you want to develop your inner leader and hone your strategy skills, there’s still time. The demo registration will be open until May 15th. Check it out here.