INCAE defines its Purpose and updates its Mission

April 06 2022
Institutional comunication

The world changed. For this reason, INCAE presents a new Mission, in accordance with a post-Covid world, and adds a Purpose to its institutional philosophy. 

Surely more than once we heard this statement: “Actively promote the comprehensive development of the countries where it serves, training leaders for key sectors, improving their practices, attitudes and values ​​through: Research, teaching and the dissemination of modern management concepts and techniques". 

Indeed, that used to be INCAE's mission, because in 2022 it evolved, it was updated and today it is this: 

Actively contribute to the comprehensive development of the countries served, with the transforming education of leaders in key sectors of society. To be a reference knowledge center in the region with world-class management practices, as well as attitudes and values, through:
• Research, teach and disseminate concepts and techniques;
• Strengthen capacities for inclusive thinking and innovation with respect to economic, social and political phenomena; and
• Promote understanding, dialogue and cooperation between people, sectors and countries.

Regarding the update of the mission, Enrique Bolaños, Rector of INCAE, commented: “It is the first time in more than 50 years that the mission of the Institute, our driving force from day one, has been updated. However, we know that times change and evolve, and INCAE must remain relevant in the industry, so we decided to update it, without losing our essence, in line with the trends and demands of our market." 

Bernard Kilian, Dean of the Faculty, mentioned the determined involvement of the INCAE community in this process: “I am proud to have experienced a process where all areas were involved. It was an achievement to establish strategic pillars that reflect the mission and impact areas, as well as aligned strategic objectives.”

For this to be possible, extensive coordination and a team were required to crystallize the vision of the community members. José Luis Araya (Technology & Innovation Director of INCAE), Claudia Quintanilla Sirias (MBA Programs Manager of Masters full-time at INCAE) and Haydeé Tejada (Director of Strategy and Business Operations, Executive Education) were part of the team in charge of raising the new mission of the institution at an unprecedented time. Yes, today, when a pandemic continues to change the world. 

"For the review of the mission we consider the context of the region and the world; recent changes and projections about the future, as well as the skills required in organizations and their leaders. These elements were part of the analysis of INCAE's contribution and its alignment with the requirements for the development of the region”, says Haydée, who joined INCAE almost a decade ago, in 2013.

Tejada (MBA 2013) indicates that "it was important that the mission include the orientation of the institution towards the promotion of sustainable development, the transformative education made available to the leaders of the region and the focus of each learning activity on the development of integrative thinking and innovation capacities" .

Added to this mission, as part of the proposals for institutional excellence, was another new element: a purpose. 

“We have a mission that is alive”

Claudia Quintanilla (MBA 2018), points out: “INCAE has a 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, and it is always a good exercise to review the mission so as not to lose sight of where we are going. But everything changed in 2020. The idea of ​​presenting a new mission was to rethink where we are heading, and it required the involvement of all areas.”

José Luis Araya (Executive MBA 2019) tells how the genesis of the project was: “At some point it was suggested that the mission had not been updated for years. We said: 'we cannot make a radical change, but we can update certain intrinsic elements or concepts in the statement, in the mission statement'. This is how we realized that ours is a living mission, in constant evolution”. 

“I remember that at some point in a session with the deans, a debate between mission and vision arose, and there arose the possibility of proposing a purpose. Those of us who were there clicked, and deans and directors asked us to form a team. At that time a call was made, which generated curiosity and expectation. It was a very participatory process. Araya specifies.

With the support of deans and directors, those involved carried out an extensive investigation. They concluded that proposing a purpose implies giving meaning to life and to what is done in it.

Erika Bernal Rempening, Director of Administration and Finance, talks about the importance of setting a purpose: “It was a great team effort to update our mission. However, there is nothing like motivating ourselves with a purpose. This reminds me of Mark Twain's phrase: 'The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why'. I am glad that our purpose, that 'why', has been developed by our own teams of Incaists. Incaist Pride!”

“The purpose had to be something emotional”

Claudia, passionate about marketing, adds: “We wanted the purpose to 'touch hearts', so to speak. It must have been something emotional: why did we come to work at INCAE? Why do students choose to study here? "

The process took place between the end of October and the beginning of November 2021. In a first session, the foundations were laid, since the challenge was to generate a representative concept for the entire community: Incaist graduates, staff and Faculty, students, Board of Directors, Committees Nationals, donors and a long etcetera. 

They took as their starting point IDEO, one of the most innovative organizations in the world. They started from four premises, thinking about passion, people, the impact that INCAE generates and –of course– why the institution exists. This methodology served to complement what was already in place, The Golden Circle, where the what, how and why of INCAE were defined.

In the next session the team looked at various companies to understand how they established their business purpose. They reviewed national, regional and global firms and thus arrived at the first version: "We exist to transform innovative leaders who turn Latin America into a more competitive, ethical, inclusive and sustainable region." 

“Beautiful, but very long. no one was going to learn it”, says Araya, who in 2022 celebrates a decade working at INCAE, and during the two years that have elapsed since the pandemic, he has been Chief Digital Officer (CDO) of the institution.

A fortuitous event would help to shorten the statement that seeks to summarize the essence and impact of INCAE on people. It happens that a student about to graduate, when presenting her consulting project, she commented: “INCAE transformed my life. There is always a before and after INCAE; It's a transformative experience.". Indeed: INCAE has a positive impact on the lives of all those who have a relationship with the institution. Thus, the team reached the final sentence: 

Transform lives in Latin America for a better future.

"Certainly, one of the greatest challenges for those of us who collaborated in this initiative was to condense in one sentence all the activities carried out by the institution and the impact it produces in multiple areas”, indicates Haydée, who adds: “The purpose achieved has resonated with all INCAE stakeholders. Those of us who have lived the #ExperienciaINCAE feel the transformation that INCAE has produced in us, and those of us who are part of the INACE team today, see reflected in this purpose the reason that motivates the effort and commitment every day.”

"For the purpose we take as a premise our own transformative experience. There is a before and after INCAE”concludes Araya, who recalled that a collaborator who was about to retire said that INCAE allowed her to build her house and educate her children. "If we think about it individually – as collaborators, as students or as a Faculty – INCAE transforms lives, but it also leaves a mark on society. The purpose is a very powerful phrase and we are creating part of the INCAE experience." 

As for the updated mission, it continues to present INCAE as a reference center of knowledge in the region, with the best world practices. 

To conclude, Camelia Ilie, Dean of Executive Education and Strategic Innovation, reminds us that: “Over the last two years, the transformation of education globally has accelerated. In Latin America, INCAE's purpose and mission have become even more relevant to promoting innovation, sustainability, and competitiveness in developing the talent of our leaders. We continue to transform lives in Latin America to create a better future".

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the collaborative work and trust of the managers. This is how Quintanilla remembers it: "I am very satisfied with all the trust and responsibility that the management team has placed in us."

Rector Bolaños shares his satisfaction with the latest version of the purpose: “The current dynamic made us question many things. 'Why do we do what we do?' And that answer is related to purpose. By having a purpose, we are able to connect even more with the INCAE family: students, graduates, collaborators, faculty, and of course, it is a motivator to do our work with a focus on the impact we want to generate, which is to transform lives in Latin America” .