Each year, IBM gives 36 corporate managers the chance to flex their mental muscles at one of the world's oldest and most prestigious universities--Cambridge University, England. What's interesting is that the five-week program offers everything but management theory or computers. Instead, Cambridge academics and distinguished visitors--among them Nobel Prize winners--focus on international politics, the environment, and the world economy. Other subjects include architecture, astronomy, ancient Greek drama, human genetics, and modern painting. Last year, attendees came from the U.S., Europe, Latin America, South America, and the Far East.

Despite the fact that the subject matter is completely unrelated to attendees' jobs, IBM must consider the program a success--it has been funding it for 31 years. Could Big Blue be onto something?