Frequently Asked Questions

On a daily basis, how much extra time should I anticipate to complete my project?

The selected project needs to be at the top of news organization’s agenda. The project is at the heart of what matters to the news organization. In effect, the selected project is the participant’s work.

The hard work of performance­-driven change cannot be accomplished if the results are “nice to have” instead of a "must have." Because the challenges will be "must haves," there really is no extra work. The time it takes to accomplish success will depend on the nature of the challenge, but in all cases it should be time that the participant would be devoting to this project anyway.

How much time will this program take?

The program runs 12 months, from January to January. The majority of time is spent implementing tools to achieve an important project or challenge at the Fellow’s workplace. Formal classes at Columbia cover four- to five­-day sessions over the course of the year; usually in January, March, June, September or October and the following January for two days of final presentations.

Do I have to attend all the sessions at Columbia? Is there an online component?

All the sessions at Columbia are essential. There is no substitute for the in­-class experience. In addition to the challenge updates that are key to Fellows taking advantage of shared knowledge and experience, all of the content of the sessions is carefully selected to help Fellows succeed with their challenges.

I am concerned about privacy issues surrounding my project. How will you protect that?

We take steps, once we understand all the challenges that Fellows bring to the program, to minimize these concerns (e.g., by placing Fellows with potential privacy concerns in separate advisor groups). For the most part, we have found that many of the challenges are less about competitive trade secrets than about supporting the Fellows as they implement performance and change in their respective organizations.

How much time can the business advisor devote to my project?

Each advisor works with a group of participants. The advisors are deeply experienced in performance­-driven change as well as the design of the program. Their role is to provide guidance to participants as they work to identify and then achieve performance at their respective workplaces. The advisors are not consultants and their time is limited. It is critical that all participants take the best possible advantage of this resource during the times you and your advisor establish.

Will I be able to contact my advisor or the program's executive director for advice outside of planned meetings or phone calls?

Yes. The executive director works with the advisors and the Fellows throughout. Our goal is that all participants succeed. If our time commitments and budget are too constrained, we'll work with participants to find the best solution possible.

We take that goal very seriously.

What happens if during the course of the year, my organization pulls the plug on my project?

This would be a heavy blow to the participant’s efforts and success in this program. We encourage participants to work directly with their superiors, peers and others - both before and early on in the program­ - to select a challenge that makes sense to the company, and to gain the necessary commitments so that “pulling the plug” is highly unlikely. Of course, we will do whatever we can to make the participant’s experience a success.

What type of diploma will I receive?

This is a non­degree program. A statement of attendance will be handed out at the class graduation dinner held at the January start of the new class.