World against COVID-19. Our colleagues' thoughts about the situation: Danica Purg

April 07, 2020

Danica Purg, Professor, President to IEDC-Bled School of Management and President of CEEMAN, Slovenia.

How we cope with Challenges of the Covid-19 Crisis at IEDC-Bled School of Management, Slovenia

One of our recent top programs at the IEDC-Bled School of Management, Slovenia, was on "crisis management". We would never have the opportunity or need to test our own crisis management capabilities. The same is with banks. They make stress tests, where there is no stress situation. They like to be prepared, but always on the basis of the former crisis, not the next. We survived the crisis in former Yugoslavia. When Slovenia, because of the 10-day war of independence in 1991, became a “no go area”, we had to relocate our programs with our professors to Austria. We managed to survive, though we had problems with the weathering the storm.

A complete lockup is a new phenomenon. This affects not only part of our market, but all relations in all sectors. In fact, the impact on IEDC might be even bigger than on some other institutions, because we are a high-touch institution. Of course, we are using all available technologies, but we believe that leadership development requires a high-touch environment. What we have learnt from former crises is the importance of communication, to stay in close touch with our corporate clients, participants, and alumni.

Through building an efficient online organization with most of our employees who are working from home, we’ve become a very efficiently operating team. We have organized a number of webinars for our clients on actual issues. As soon as we realized that this crisis could last for a longer period of time and that it would be difficult to welcome the participants in Bled, who usually come from at least ten to fifteen countries, we moved part of our longer programs online. Not everyone was happy with this, and it became clear once again that our high-touch approach is also based on what business leaders prefer themselves. When we announced our online offer, a number of the participants did not like the idea and postponed their participation until we start running the programs onsite, face to face again. This is not a reaction of computer or internet illiterates, but business leaders who know the impact of real learning and creative environment. I hope we and they will soon get a clearer picture of the future after Covid-19.

The Covid-19 crisis also offers us time for reflection. How could we explain that some people can earn more than twenty nurses or other health workers together? How do we explain that people with relatively low wages are so motivated to work and even willing to risk their health? Does this have anything to do with the old notion of “duty” and social responsibility? Reflections and answers to these questions can help us get out of this crisis and build a better world.