Best Free MOOCs In Business For February

Stanford's Bob Sutton (Left) and Huggy Rao (Right)

Stanford’s Bob Sutton (Left) and Huggy Rao (Right)

It’s easy to start something – but not so easy to sustain it.

That’s the first lesson every entrepreneur learns. Early success may be a blessing, but it comes with gut-wrenching risks and tradeoffs. If you need to add employees to nourish growth, that requires new processes and infrastructure to organize your operation. Thinking about adding a new location? Then you’ll wrestle with how to maintain the same culture that drove your success. Broaden your offerings beyond core competencies, you risk being distracted and stretched.

Growth represents some serious operational and existential challenges to founders. Suddenly, you’re spending less time on the frontlines and more time coaching and thinking. Lots of options will open up, but you’re never quite sure if they lead to big scores or dead ends. This is the point where every founder worries that they’re losing control. It is that pivot point where you transition from startup to established firm – when you learn that the practices fueling your growth may not take you to the next level.


That’s the premise behind February’s most exciting MOOC: “Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up.” Developed by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the course features two legendary professors: Bob Sutton, author of bestsellers like Good Boss, Bad Boss and The No Asshole Rule, and Huggy Rao, an award-winning teacher, researcher, and author who teaches organizational design, behavior, and change. Based off the lessons from Scaling Up Excellence, the course is based on research on the many reasons why promising startups – and even established ventures – either fail or fall into mediocrity when they struggle to adapt.

How do you avoid such pitfalls? In an interview with consultants McKinsey & Co., Sutton cites a deeply held sense of buy-in and accountability as one antidote. “Scaling is a responsibility for senior management,” Sutton explains. But when we look at organizations that maintain and spread excellence, one thing that happens – and sometimes senior management is the architect and frankly sometimes it happens despite them – [is] there is that feeling in the organization…that ‘I own it’ and the other part that is really important is ‘it owns me.’ We see that at Pixar. We see that at IDEO. General Electric sort of amazes me in their ability to create that.”

The course also has proven to be extremely popular, with an astounding 60.5% completion rate among students in its most recent incarnation. One reason: It truly delivers the goods, says Gillie Bray, a reviewer on Class-Central. “It was more hard work than I anticipated,” she writes, “but well worthwhile. I have considerable experience in scaling businesses, but learned a great deal. Brilliant!”


‘Scaling Up’ isn’t the only exciting MOOC coming out in February. The month is rife with new releases for the tech sector, headed by the University of Colorado-Denver’s “Business Intelligence Concepts, Tools, and Applications,” which takes students inside the tools and best practices used in data warehousing and analysis. On Feb. 23rd, Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s “Knowledge Management and Big Data in Business” re-opens, which has earned four out of five-star reviews from students. “This course was very engaging,” writes Eilbron Meghdies. “The topics are relevant and up-to-date. I appreciate that we didn’t dive into the technical but were offered a detailed yet broad understanding. Professor Fayyad’s relevant work experience made his modules very tangible and insightful. Great real world examples.”

February’s MOOCs also offer something for everyone. Are you an entrepreneur or senior level executive? Check out the University of Virginia’s “Strategic Planning and Execution,” which covers variables ranging from budgeting to communication in implementing initiatives. Are you interested in making a difference beyond the bottom line? Take a look at “Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility” to help raise awareness and commitment to the greater good in your organization.

Or, if you see entrepreneurship as a means to drive social change, Case Western Reserve’s “Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies” looks at how startups can flourish in even the poorest markets. Looking to find ways to be faster and more cost-efficient in your organization? MIT’s “Supply Chain Fundamentals” and the University of Illinois’ “Process Improvement” are designed to help you with just that.

Not to mention, this month features several long-time favorites coming out, including Yale’s “The Global Financial Crisis” and Wharton’s “Marketing Analytics, “Introduction to Corporate Finance,” and “Gamification.” To learn more about these courses – and register for them – click on the links below.

Marketing and Management

Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up / February 1 / Stanford

Strategic Planning and Execution / February 8 / University of Virginia

Entrepreneurship 1: Developing the Opportunity / February 9 / Wharton

Applications of Everyday Leadership / February / University of Illinois

Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies / February 1 / Case Western Reserve

Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) / February 25 / Louvain School of Management

Marketing Analytics / February 1 / University of Virginia

Power Onboarding / February 1 / Northwestern University

Advertising and Society / February 1 / Duke University

Social Entrepreneurship 101: Discovering Your Path And Passion To Change The World / February 23 / Acumen

The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen / February 15 / Newcastle University

Finance, Technology and Operations

Fundamentals of Quantitative Modeling / February 9 / Wharton

Business Intelligence Concepts, Tools, and Applications / February 15 / University of Colorado, Denver

The Global Financial Crisis / February 1 / Yale University

Supply Chain Fundamentals / February 10 / MIT

Introduction to Corporate Finance / February 1 / Wharton

Knowledge Management and Big Data in Business / February 23 / Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Process Improvement / February 1 / University of Illinois

Gamification / February 1 / Wharton

Additional Courses

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