May 16, 2016

Successfully leading a think tank program, or an entire organization, takes much more than natural leadership and organizational skills — it requires an array of skills and strategies that must be learned from those who have already spent years in the trenches. Atlas Leadership Academy’s Think Tank MBA (TTMBA) training is an annual 10-day intensive course for leaders within new and established think tanks. The program focuses on strategic planning, management, and project execution that offers the ideas, guidance and experience think tank leaders need to focus on their best ideas and bring them to fruition — creating a leaner, more professional, and more highly regarded organization. The 2016 TTMBA course will take place from Sept. 13–22 in Miami, Fla., and applications are due by May 20.

TTMBA is a “program that creates true leaders,” said Admir Čavalić, president of Bosnia and Herzegovina–based Atlas Network partner Multi (Udruzenje Gradana). Čavalić used the things he learned during his TTMBA experience to redraft Multi’s mission, develop a new organizational structure, make significant changes to the organization’s communications strategy, and launch many new projects.

“Every year, Think Tank MBA raises a bunch of inspired and confident free-market fighters,” said Marija Vyšniauskaitė, head of the Education Center with Atlas Network partner Lithuanian Free Market Institute. “After training we are equipped not only with strong ideas, we become high-level leaders and professional managers, and the best thing is that great feeling to have like-minded friends in all continents.”

The TTMBA program is geared toward executive directors and other leadership at established organizations of at least 18 months, as well as program managers and directors at established organizations. The intensive course training will provide participants with a renewed vision for the work of their organizations, a strong understanding of what it takes to fundraise successfully in any political climate, strategies for managing staff and leading with integrity, a one-minute elevator pitch ready to deliver to potential collaborators, and camaraderie with a tight-knit group of fellow participants from all parts of the world.

“Getting buy-in from all our staff and directors has been extremely valuable and useful in drafting and implementing a business plan,” said Sam Bowman, executive director of London-based Atlas Network partner Adam Smith Institute (ASI) about his 2015 TTMBA experience. “It's also helped me enormously with focusing our work and, although we're still in the process of implementing and properly launching the policy streams that I've been working on, I am confident that we'll be able to do so much more effectively because I have been able to articulate my vision for the ASI clearly and persuasively to my colleagues. TTMBA helped me realise that running a think tank is as much about what you don't do as what you do. Focusing our work, and running it like a business, has helped us to expand our reach and impact within just a few months of the MBA course.”

A commitment to the ideas of liberty is necessary but not sufficient to be effective in advancing those ideas. Crafting public policy campaigns, using rigorous research methods, measuring program results, hiring and retaining talented staff, and raising funds to be spent with the utmost care are all necessary nuts and bolts of successful organization management.

“Think Tank MBA taught me that strategic planning and administration are useful not only for business institutions, but also for social and political ones,” said Roberto Munita, executive director of Chile-based Atlas Network partner Instituto de Estudios de la Sociedad.