Adidas, the German sports clothing manufacturer, has published an interesting challenge on their blog. The company wants to start a corporate university and asks for help. Here are my questions and suggestions:

Dear Adidas,

1. Why do you need a university? 

In your blog Jan Runau states: “ The adidas Group strives to be the global leader in the sporting goods industry with sports brands built on a passion for sports and a sporting lifestyle.“

What would a university contribute to this goal?  A university is about teaching and learning but also about researching.What would an Adidas university do?

Help do your business better by teaching innovative practices in the respective field e.g leadership in virtual teams? Support the development of new products, e.g. sports products for an aging population? Research new trends – e.g. what does the „megatrendwomen“?  mean to the business?

2. Who would be contributing or participating in this university? 

Ok, the employees.  And maybe all kind of experts that you also need to your business better. To become or remain a global leader, you would certainly have to integrate the best „heads“ from areas of the world where you may not be active yet and may not be part of your team.

In your blog entry you also state that you have been inspired by TED conferences, Cluetrain Manifesto and EdX of Harvard. All these initiatives are about sharing. Sharing knowledge that you have gained in your organisation. Do you plan to share knowledge that you gained in your organisation? And if so – to what extent and to whom?

3. To answer your questions: To set up a process to answer all these questions – of which your blog carneval is a great start –  and to take  decisions not only on the top level, will mean that you also engage your employees and stakeholders in the process of finding out where your company is heading. This would be my idea of a great corporate university.

The challenge will be to set up this process and implement it.

And that would mean to include all kinds of formal and informal learning and provide platforms for them: From classical teacher-led face-to-face seminars  in one country over  global virtual gatherings for information exchange to flexible publishing networks like wikis/blogs to new forms of individual learning e.g. mobile learning or whatever comes up in the future. The role of the company would be less to organize all these events than making them possible by providing the technical basis and by attracting all kind of relevant knowledge and  heads from all over the world.

Best regards from Berlin,

Claudia Musekamp

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