MAN 5054 Managing for excellence

MAN 5054 Managing for excellence

Course code: 
MAN 5054
Leadership and Organizational Behaviour
Course coordinator: 
Jon Erland B Lervik
Course name in Norwegian: 
Prestasjoner i organisasjoner
Product category: 
Executive Master of Management
2023 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
Associate course
Course codes for multi- or associated courses
Course codeSemester
MAN 5055
2023 Autumn
MAN 5056
2024 Spring

This is a program on how to manage for excellence in organizations through a dual attention to what makes people thrive and grow and what creates extraordinary performances. The course assumes that employee and group thriving is the key to organizational excellence and that we need to understand how work practice can be generative for both individuals and organizations. Drive, energy, initiative, humility and action orientation are the basis virtues seek to develop.

We build on a fairly new and exciting tradition of research and managerial practice called Positive Organizational Scholarship. We also borrow from recent developments within practice-based approaches to organizations, narrative psychology, philosophy and the field of Design thinking.

The target group of the program is middle managers, project managers, domain experts and other professionals in business, voluntary organizations and the public sector: people who are responsible for developing the performances of themselves and others in organizations.

We emphasize practice from both an academic and an action oriented point of view. Leadership and professional creativity to bring about excellence is first of all something that takes place sin everyday practice, something that we do.

You will be challenged to discover and/or cultivate those generative practices in which you yourself can thrive, manage at your best and be valuable to others. In line with the focus on practice, the course will present rich examples from recent research along with new theory and historical overviews. The course has five main themes. Each of them will be the subject of a separate program session.

1. High quality connections and energizing behavior
2. Motivation and driving forces
3. Positive organizational change and professional creativity
4. Experiments and prototyping
5. Culture and networks of excellence

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

The overall objective of the course is to provide knowledge, skills and attitudes for how to manage for excellence in organizations through professional creativity and generative practices. Three types of learning outcomes are sought:

Acquired knowledge:
Students will acquire solid research based knowledge on how to manage for excellence in organizations. After having completed the program, the participants will have deep insights into key terms, approaches, theoretical roots and rich examples of practice within all the five program areas.

Learning outcomes - Skills

Practical tools: Students will acquire capabilities to manage for excellence in organization through practical experiences with a range of new tools. Some of these tools will enable the participants to better lead development processes with a focus on learning from positive deviance, visualizing progress, prototyping, user involvement and making physical space for creative collaboration. Other tools will enable the participants to create relations and practices that drive performance in many settings

Personal development: The program will seek to practice what it preaches in terms of offering students possibilities to use theory and tools purposively to develop themselves and others.

General Competence

Acquired attitudes: Participants will also be taught the basic attitudes, values and perspectives on life that are assumed central in managing for excellence. Key words here are initiative, action capability, openness, other-orientation, long terms views, tolerance for failure and respect for the people one interacts with, within and outside ones organization.

All themes that are taught have ethical questions and dilemmas that participants are exposed to through exercises and discussions.

Course content

1. Kvalitet og energi i relasjoner
2. Motivasjon og drivkrefter
3. Positivt orientert utviklingsarbeid
4. Eksperimentering og prototyping
5. Kultur og nettverk for varige prestasjoner

MODULE 1: High-quality connections and energizing behavior.

· Get a broad introduction to the program and the lecturers, as well as getting to know and create relations to other participants
· Learn about key concepts and approaches within Positive Organizational Scholarship and some of the other main theoretical perspectives in the program
· Master and being able to apply theory about high-quality connections and energizing behavior as a basis for managing for excellence
· Kick-start the individual reflection log and clarify expectations to personal learning and achievements during the program, as well as organizational benefits

MODULE 2: Motivation and driving forces

· Acquire deep understanding of the motivational basis for achieving excellence
· Be able to apply this understanding to develop the motivation of oneself and others to pursue the extraordinary
· Understand and be able to apply theory on pro-social motivation through end user involvement, including the power of mastering experiences and the visualizing of progress
· Gain experience in using the reflected best self-portrait exercise as well as mechanisms for energizing behavior in one' own organization
· Start term paper projects linked to strategic development challenges in (some of) the participants' own organizations

MODULE 3: Positive organizational change and professional creativity

Gain deep knowledge of systematic prepping for creativity and extraordinary performance
Understanding positive organizational change as systematically searching for and reinforcing positive deviance, looking for the positive in the negative and daring to stretch for the extraordinary
To acquire deep knowledge of practices and philosophy for performance development in two of Norway's high-performance organizations
Discuss experiences with the first phase of student term paper projects and set the final design

MODULE 4: Experiments and prototyping

· Know the theoretical basis for and practices of different kinds of experiential learning as a work form in development projects, including prototyping and design of small experiments
· Get deep knowledge of design thinking bith in terms f theoretical roots and use in concrete development tasks
· Start to reap the awards of term paper projects and take a closer look at its prototypes
· Understand the theory and practice of making space for creative collaboration through spaces, walls and artifacts, in particular with regards to visual sharing and early phase project mobilization

MODULE 5: Culture and networks of excellence

· Learn about what characterizes organizations that remain high-performing through long periods of time
· Understand how excellence is developed and anchored in organizational culture and external networks
· Get and overview of and be able to analyze approaches to high-performance cultures, including the comparison of experiences fro elite sports, businesses and industrial clusters
· Being able to understand and critically assess recipes for managing for excellence
· Presentation and last look at term paper
· Summarize key learning across all five program themes


Teaching and learning activities

The programme is conducted through five course modules over two semesters.

This is a program that rests on the assumption that learning presupposes active participation. Qualitative research and process approaches form the methodological basis for the program, with an emphasis on detailed understanding of everyday practices and development processes.  

We pursue the following learning strategies in our teaching:  

Discussion of real situations, decisions and cases that are messy and complex and therefore ideal for fully engaging the experience f participants in developing judgment 

Discussion of new research that challenges common sense and established mental models.  

Brief overviews of theoretical roots  

Introduction of tools, of which some are chosen for active experimentation by participants in their own organizations  

Discussions of mini-cases with ethical dilemmas  

The program also offers a range of activities for learning in and between the meetings. The most important individual learning activities include:  

Personal log with brief reflections from meetings and exercises, including small excerpts (less than 1 pg) posted on itslearning;  

Active experimentation with mechanisms for positive organizational change, energizing behavior etc in one’s own organizations between meetings, including: 

Reflected best self-portrait: use of new tool for systematic and positive performance reviews, geared to see new opportunities and facilitate personal growth 

The participants will work in small teams on and between Meetings. You will be challenged to connect the program activities to real challenges in your own organization. Key collective learning activities include:  

Term paper project tied to development work in the organization of one of the participants. Students establish groups of one insider plus up to two outsiders who together explore and contribute to and ongoing development process of strategic importance..  

Prepared company visits where participants form small groups to prepare questions and discussions.  

The program cannot be accomplished through distance learning. Participation in the program Meetings is expected and we expect participants to make positive contributions to the learning of others. Each participant will at the start of the program create a personal learning contract for his or her expected learning and achievements.

The students are evaluated through a term paper, counting 60% of the total grade and a 72 hours individual home exam counting 40%. All evaluations must be passed to obtain a certificate for the programme.

The term paper shall be linked to development work in one of the participants’ organizations. The paper can be written individually or in groups of up to three persons. The students then need to establish groups with one insider and up to two outsiders who explore a real development process of strategic importance. The work on the term paper will take place as an integrated part of the meetings with assignments between meetings.

The individual home exam consists of a reflection note about one’s own learning base don the log used to describe and reflect over personal learning episodes (including how the learning may be used in a work situation). The note shall discuss and synthesize the students's own experience in the context of the relevant literature and theoretical perspectives from the course. 

The term paper is included in the degree’s independent work of degree, cf national regulation on requirements for master’s degree, equivalent to 18 ECTS credits per. programme. For the Executive Master of Management degree, the independent work of degree represents the sum of term papers from three programmes.

In all BI Executive courses and programs, there is a mutual requirement  
for the student and the course responsible regarding the involvement of the student's experience in the planning and implementation of courses, modules and programmes. This means that the student has the right and duty to get involved with their own knowledge and practice relevance, through the active sharing of their relevant experience and knowledge.


Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.

Bachelor degree, corresponding to 180 credits from an accredited university, university college or similar educational institution. The applicant must be at least 25 years of age and at least four years of work experience. For applicants who have already completed a master’s degree, three years of work experience are required.


Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this. 

Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
Group/Individual (1 - 3)
2 Semester(s)
Term paper, counting 60% of the total grade.
Exam code: 
MAN 50541
Grading scale: 
Examination when next scheduled course
Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
72 Hour(s)
Individual 72 hours home exam, counting 40% of the total grade.
Exam code: 
MAN 50542
Grading scale: 
Examination when next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
All exams must be passed to get a grade in this course.
Total weight: 
Student workload
150 Hour(s)
Prepare for teaching
150 Hour(s)
Student's own work with learning resources
500 Hour(s)
Self study, term paper and exam
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 30 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of at least 800 hours.