The Heider Mindset

The Heider Mindset

By Molly Carpenter Garriott, BA’89

Isaac Asimov once stated that sensible decisions must take into account “not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”

For business, “the world as it is” is a blend of traditional disciplines and approaches — finance, accounting, marketing — and new, technology-based fields such as business analytics, big data and AI.  

But “the world as it will be”? That’s anyone’s guess. Consider this: a projected 85% of business sector jobs existing in 2030 do not exist today, according to a 2017 report from Dell Technologies. Adhering to a “business as usual” approach to business education will leave students short of the necessary skills to perform in the workplace and advance in their careers.  

Business schools, however, are populated by economists and accountants, not clairvoyants. So how are educators to prepare tomorrow’s professionals who will, more than any generation before, be practicing in uncharted territory?  

This is what Heider College of Business leaders asked themselves nearly three years ago when the Association to Advance the Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the accreditation body of U.S. business schools, challenged educators to creatively remodel their curricula. Creighton responded with the Heider Mindset Curriculum.

The Origin Story

In developing the Mindset curriculum, Heider faculty sought the guidance of leading Fortune 500 companies who had published the results of their own forums, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers’ “Investing in America’s Data Science and Analytics Talent, The Case for Action.” They consulted industry executives and reviewed the curriculums of the nation’s top business schools. They sought best practices from the think tank Education Advisory Board (EAB).   

Then, using Henry Mintzberg’s book Managers Not MBAs as inspiration, the task force concluded that theory and practice — something at which the Heider College of Business already excelled — must be augmented with boundary-crossing competencies or “transferrable skills” that “allow people to be increasingly adaptable in the face of change,” says Matt Seevers, PhD, associate dean of undergraduate programs and a professor of marketing and management.

Communication, teamwork, perspective, project management, global understanding and critical thinking are examples of boundary-crossing competencies. These are the skills, Seevers says, that will help Heider graduates adapt to future technologies that we now only imagine.  

Recent years have seen an increased importance in analytics and data science. For graduates in the coming decades, however, proficiency in data fluency across disciplines will be imperative, says Debbie Wells, PhD, interim chair of the Department of Accounting and Business Intelligence and Analytics.

“What is demanded of a business education now is very different from the past,” Wells says. “Furthermore, patterns of career progression have dramatically changed. They are not as linear. There are fewer hierarchical organizations and more entrepreneurial ones, in which employees must wear multiple hats. Industry is changing; education must follow suit.”

The Heider Mindset Curriculum is a holistic approach to business education centered on six distinctive mindsets — analytical, collaborative, cross-cultural, action, service and reflective — that reframe how the college teaches business. The mindsets serve as guideposts for evaluating existing courses, as well as for creating new coursework.

“An education at Creighton University is not just about the next four years, it’s about the next 40 years,” says Anthony Hendrickson, PhD, dean of the Heider College of Business. “It’s not just how we prepare students for their first job out of college but for a lifetime of leadership and positive contributions across all facets of their lives.”

Seevers says this became the guiding principle of the Heider Mindset Curriculum’s formation. “To be a leader in any field, an analytical mindset will be important. The ability to collaborate with others will also be vital. The capability to put words and ideas into action — even in the face of adversity — will be key.”

The mindsets are more than a “curriculum.” The Heider Mindset Curriculum is not limited to courses, majors, minors, concentrations or tracks. It encompasses “the entire ecosystem of Creighton and the Heider College of Business,” Seevers says. It is coursework functioning in tandem with cocurricular activities, internships, leadership programs, service trips and events, and more, to form future leaders of business who will live out the college’s mission of positively impacting the world.

It’s Got Game

Each mindset has requirements, and students have both academic and extracurricular opportunities to fulfill these. Students track their progress via an online dashboard called the Heider Mindset Achievement Portfolio (H-MAP). The H-MAP gives students a status report of where they are and what mindset requirements they still need to fulfill.

“It’s not a measurement tool but more of a digital repository of artifacts,” Wells says. “It allows students to see how their curricular experience at the Heider College of Business is married to the extracurricular at the University and beyond. It takes varied experiences across their four years and shows how they are aligned through the mindsets.”

Students, such as sophomore finance and accounting double major Cole Goeltl, have embraced the gamification of the H-MAP.

“Through its leaderboard, H-MAP offers a unique way to find other people in the Heider College of Business who are motivated to make the most of their college experience in every way beyond just the classroom,” Goeltl says. And, he adds, “It is also nice to have a platform to showcase to potential employers that your college experience was truly well-rounded.”

Goeltl equates H-MAP to a college transcript, which chronicles success in academic coursework, but this tracks all accomplishments outside the formal classroom setting as well. “It has helped me to develop much more intentionally, rapidly and effectively,” he says.

Beyond Business

A significant component — and one that distinguishes Creighton business alumni from graduates of other programs — is exposure to coursework beyond the purview of the business school. All students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration are required to complete the Kingfisher Concentration in addition to the existing Magis Core requirement. The Kingfisher Concentration is composed of at least nine hours (typically three courses) drawn from an approved area of concentration within the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The aim is to encourage students to find an area of depth that supports growth in at least one of the mindsets and allows personalization of liberal arts coursework,” Seevers says.

For instance, a marketing major might pursue graphic design as his or her Kingfisher Concentration; an accounting major might select a concentration in mathematics. Alternatively, students might take this opportunity to engage a lifelong interest in art or history or experiment with a completely new pursuit by enrolling in Spanish or Irish literature.

For those who want to delve deeper, the Kingfisher Concentration is the initial step toward a minor within the College of Arts and Sciences. With nine credit hours already under their academic belts, students need only complete three more classes to earn the minor designation.  

From day one, College of Arts and Sciences leadership has been “incredibly supportive” of this cross-college collaboration, says Wells. Bridget Keegan, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has shown an expressed interest in data fluency, recognizing that real-time analysis plays a pivotal role in all enterprises and is not the exclusive domain of business.

“I am so proud that faculty and leaders in the Heider College of Business share my belief that the skills and knowledge offered by liberal arts disciplines are key to ensuring that our students are ‘future-proof’ and ready for whatever changes the workplace has in store for them,” Keegan says. “The Kingfisher Concentrations allow students to develop and deepen strengths in Arts and Sciences programs that complement their plans of study in business. I look forward to offering Kingfisher Concentrations in business to our Arts and Sciences students as well.”

The intent of the Kingfisher Concentration is exposure: provide business students access to an array of disciplines, and you will produce more well-rounded individuals who will be increasingly adaptable in the face of change.

This has been the experience of Gisselle Estevez, a senior business intelligence and analytics double major from Santiago, Dominican Republic. The boundary-crossing competencies of the Heider Mindset and Magis Core curriculums have enriched her multiple internships.

“Whether it’s the soft skills or hard skills, each class I have taken has taught me something that I have used one way or another,” Estevez says. “Sometimes I see myself having to use concepts that I learned in psychology or philosophy in a conversation at work regarding a project. Other times, terms from management class come into play when talking with my boss about our team. These are things that are not obvious when you are taking these classes but nonetheless become very important.”

Not Just Brick and Mortar

The Heider Mindsets — analytical, collaborative, action, reflective, service, cross-cultural — are values that Heider College of Business programming has always espoused. The new curriculum formalizes these traits in a cohesive, foundational manner, Hendrickson says.

“A good leader knows how to collaborate and analyze, be cross-cultural, commit to action, be willing to serve and embrace reflection,” Hendrickson says. “And we intentionally incorporated these principles into the recent renovations of the Harper Center. The building reflects who we are philosophically and academically.”

The Jesuit charisms, such as women and men for and with others, cura personalis and educating agents of change, are prominently displayed throughout the Harper Center. They adorn entrances and hallways as a reminder of Creighton’s Jesuit identity.

So, too, are each of the mindsets, which can be found on the pillars in the Heider College of Business atrium.

The message to the students is clear, Hendrickson says: “The mindsets are the foundation of our building like they are the foundation of your career.”

Hendrickson calls business “a team sport” and “a social enterprise,” so it’s no surprise that the number of collaborative workspaces increased with renovations to the Harper Center. The mindsets also were intentionally incorporated into the renovations: The analytical mindset is realized in the Heider Securities Investment and Analysis Center; the action mindset is represented in the expanded iJay and innovation labs; The Flame and The Globe sculptures at each Harper entrance call to mind the service and cross-cultural mindsets; and the St. Peter Faber, SJ, Chapel, located in the heart of the Harper Center and named for one of the first Jesuits and the patron saint of business, beautifully highlights the need for reflection.

The introduction of the Heider Mindset Curriculum this past year coincides with the college’s 100th year anniversary and will go a long way in forming the next century of business leaders educated in the Jesuit tradition.

“The mindsets aren’t just platitudes for decoration,” Hendrickson says. “They are who we are.”

Heider Celebrates Centennial With Website, Anniversary Book

The Heider College of Business, which opened in 1920 as the College of Commerce, Accounts and Finance, celebrated its centennial in 2020. You can read more about Heider’s history, learn fun facts and explore the college’s growth online at

The college also is commemorating the occasion with a 100th anniversary book. More information on how to purchase this update of the original history of the college by the Rev. Neil Cahill, SJ, is forthcoming.