Leadership Advisory Board 2nd Quarter Meeting

CSOM Boardroom

We convened the second quarter Leadership Advisory Board that the Carlson School of Management.
This board contained around 40 corporate members from their talent development groups around leadership and executive development.  This previous session had focused on offerings around emerging leaders.   Based on the feedback on the new leadership programs for the last meeting we where able to show the changes in the emerging leaders program being offered.    This included a more robust coaching option integrated into the standard curriculum and the inclusion of more industry practitioners to make the program more relevant and valuable.   We also where able to present initial designs to a full portfolio of offerings in the leadership space and prioritize the next program for development targeted at more senior executives.  As in the last meeting,  participation from the attendees was really engaged and passionate.   It was also to see the diversity of feedback based on individual organizations approach to leadership development.   It was very informative for this peer group to see how organizations are approaching the space differently form a variety as aspects including:
–  In-house development vs. leveraging external partners
– The amount of dollars and investment made into leaders
– The diversity of size & effort put into leaders at different levels.   Do you spend more or less time/dollars into senior leaders vs. younger ones.   Do senior leaders need any support or do they need more support than ever in their careers?
– How to bring in senior leaders into an organization when they have “grown up” in other corporations models
– How to develop leaders that either come from or have to work in other international cultures
– How does support vary in terms of men or woman leaders?
– How much does your company invest in mentorship models
– How much does your company invest in peer to peer models
– How much does your company invest in external peer to peer models?
– How much does your company invest in leadership & and then developing the organizations they are leading?  ( are you leaving your employees behind?)
– etc.
Leadership is one of many topics that are top of mind for corporations and business schools.   In a world of increase speed of change and innovation talent becomes the critical resource.   If agility is a key component,  how are you building and developing your leadership to meet that challenge and how are they supported in building organizations and talent pool?

FEDA, Harvard, and UMN Economic Cluster Development Conference

Cluster Mapping Project

The Federal EDA, Harvard, MIT, and UMN had teamed up around big data analysis on US industry clusters.  This was a two day event (09/29/14 – 09/30/14)  showcasing a broad range of speakers and case studies of cluster development.  For a number of years they have been collecting data on the current state of industry across cities in the USA.   The high level data starts to identify strong concentration of cluster assets by geography and creates a basis for measuring the effectiveness and growth ( or decline ) of regions.  The Federal EDA and Small Business Association have created grant programs to help regions develop their clusters.    Already many cities have capitalized on these government investments and begun programs and have created innovation centers / parks to bring clusters together in new ways and around joint collaboration and co-opition.
Reshaping Clusters Porter
Harvard Professor, Micheal Porter, gave a presentation with practices for reshaping clusters and highlighted the work he has been involved with developing the Life Sciences cluster in Massachusetts.  Some of the best practices he highlighted included:
  • Focus on competitiveness, not job creation
  • Cluster-based, reflecting the core drivers of jobs and wages
  • Build on existing and potential strengths, versus rely on reducing
  • Weakness
  • Develop an overall strategy rather than a list of actions
  • Prioritized and sequenced, not treating all weaknesses equally
  • Data driven, not political or based on wishful thinking
See more in the gallery
Water Cluster
The case study examples where interesting and great to hear them presented directly the teams leading the initiatives.  Ecolab CEO Doug Baker presented a very interesting cluster collaboration that spanned multiple states and adjacent clusters that included water, energy, and agriculture.   This highlighted that the potential of clusters is just not within the scope of a single city, but in the interconnection of key partners that may span state boundaries.   This concept was reinforced later in the year seeing states applying for the federal grants together in unified proposals.   The example also highlighted the power supporting adjacent clusters.   This allowed corporations from adjacent vertical sectors to partner in new ways and create business opportunities through combining assets, technology, and processes.
Regional economic development practices where discussed and it highlighted the wide variety of approaches adopted by groups and some of the trade off to the approaches.  For example:
  • Some regions don’t have strong leadership and lack any regional development plan, much less a shared vision.   This is worst case scenario, but can be common
  • Regions that have long standing clusters,  but struggle to maintain their lead.   They focus on keeping parity though this tends to ultimate lose the lead and invest enough in creating competitive advantage
  • A region could focus on a new and emerging cluster,  but that is a very competitive space.   Success would really hinge upon the actual strength of regional assets to support that industry.   This can be a very costly investment only to not sustain the lead in the long run against another region with inherit more advantages
  • Regional investment in generic infrastructure can also be an expensive but unsuccessful strategy.   Building generic industry parks,  start-up spaces, and industry support systems can turn into a bust without a clear and focused plan.
  • The opposite of generic infrastructure though would be an approach to build cluster specific infrastructure that creates a unique and differentiated assets for the region resulting in a clear competitive advantage.   Example of these can be innovation center campuses that integrate industry,  start-ups, universities,  research parks, that have common infrastructure around shared labs, manufacturing, supply chain, education and commercialization.
One aspect of cluster development that paves the way is the development of supportive government policy in the region to create business opportunities,  align government investment, and create incentives.  This can be a huge factor in terms of attractiveness to the region for internal and external investment and the attraction of talent and ideas.   While government plays a key role,  it doesn’t mean a region can only be lead by government agencies.   In most case the agencies are not staffed or funded for extensive economic development programs and these programs have to last past any given administration.   Some of the most success case studies of cluster development are lead by private organizations that are built and dedicated to the mission.   It still takes government, industry, education, start-ups, venture capitalists, etc to be all contributing,  but much of the facilitation can come from private firms.   Two red flags I’ll immediately raise in this conversation are as follows:
  1. There can be more than one private firm involved.  Regional transformation is an enormous,  and though a shared vision is required, the work and easily and probably be better severed by a number of focused organizations that can sustain long term.
  2. There is a difference between leadership and control.   A leading organization can lead through delegation.   A clear flag of a failing economic development organization is one that seems to take control of everything.   Its a stewardship model vs. dictator model that is needed for scalability and sustainability.
CHEVAL insight looking into regional cluster selection also brings a variety of approaches:
  • One can begin by looking at what the region is already known for and has in abundance.  Next one would have to compare the regions current success and competitive differentiators against any other regions that are in that space.   In too many cases a region that pioneers a field becomes comfortable at the lead and fails to see others gaining on them until it is too late.   Keep in mind that the individuals who probably created the industry tend to retire and turn it over to the politicians in their companies, so its not surprising that the decline of industries sectors in a given region over time.
  • Studying your areas of strength,  then exploring the strength you have in adjacent industries could also be a opportunity in waiting.   In many cases these have grown up independently and could be at a maturation point where stronger cross sector integration can create dynamic opportunities in the marketplace.
  • Investing in a growing regional competency might make sense.   Really mature clusters don’t need much additional support.   They have already built their systems and partnership.   So a growing sector could be the place where the investments make a big difference.
  • Even though emerging markets might be risky,   if you region already has strong momentum in that entrepreneurial area and that mark may have the support of mature adjacent sectors,  then it could be a strategic play.  You really have to look at the competition before jumping in though.
  • Looking at cluster intersects can be a game changing strategy,  even for your mature sectors.   Combining a horizontal with a vertical sector could be a multiplier.   For example:   Add a IOT focus to a manufacturing or agriculture cluster strengthens both sectors in your region and could create dynamic opportunities.   Combining mobile into healthcare or supply chain could amplify all your mature businesses and share the cost of the innovation and R&D.


20140926-US Cluster Mapping Launch Michael Porter- 1I was able to have several follow-up meetings with the Federal EDA and some of the analytics partners.   We where exploring some partnerships around the next level of economic big data that could be generated around innovation centers.   This could provide much greater insights into regional activities and innovation plus expand the language of cluster development and metrics.   This effort will continue as regional cluster planning comes into focus across a number of cities we are currently engaged with.   I should also mention that these innovation centers with clear focus clusters are key landing pads for the international corridors programs we are developing to connect global clusters and innovation.

2014 Women’s Leadership Summit & Career Path Offerings

CSOM logo

The annual Women’s Leadership Summit was hosted at the Carlson School of Management.  This large event is well attended and a great community building opportunity for women to connect and network.    Behind the scenes the school is exploring new offerings to support women in both their careers and networks.   There is not one career path that fits all and many scenarios are being examined to study what the needs are for each situation.    A key element that seems to cross all the paths is the need for both a strong peer network, in addition to, a strong mentorship network.   Given the diversity of career paths,  you run into interesting situations where women have taken ten or more years out of their professional careers to pursue a family.   Returning to the workforce as obvious needs like education and connections, but of equal interest is what offerings could be put in place to keep them engaged during their time out of the office.   Could they be still plugged into current trends, technology, and global market developments through digital media.   Could there be online sessions that keep them up to speed on business and market advancements.   Could their be social events to help them maintain their networks and listen to the challenges their peers are still facing in corporate america.   Could there be entrepreneurial clubs to help them launch businesses that better fit their new lifestyles.  The answer to these and many other compelling ideas is yes!
While this discussion began centered around women’s careers and very interesting trend has happened to both genders in the past decade.   Both men and women have been serving in the military and have been going through repeated deployments that disrupt their traditional career paths.   Both individuals and organizations have had to learn to adapt to the deployments and return integration of veteran’s into the workforce.   While challenging for both genders and their organizations,  this has created a much higher degree of awareness across corporate america and their human resource departments to address these concerns.   The opportunity that this could afford our society is exciting if we can move issues like these into the main stream.   By recognizing both men and women need to be able to accommodate a variety of career paths and career disruptions helps us all move past stereotypical definitions of success being a single ladder we are all progressing on.
I encourage all to get involved in you local education programs to help define future offerings that society needs to create a more vibrant workforce and offerings to enable everyone to continue to develop their careers even during life’s detours.

Leadership Advisory Board – 1st Meeting

CSOM BoardroomResearching corporate leadership needs and insights began through the creation of the Leadership Advisory Board.   The first meeting was hosted in the board room of the Carlson School of Management.  Over 35 companies participated at the initial event ( membership grew over next year)  and the target audience included HR leadership spanning small, medium and large organizations from companies selected in multiple cities in Minneasota.  The agenda for the evening was a mix of social networking with peers and collaborative feedback sessions.   To facilitate the discussion we began with an overview of one of the leadership offerings under development with a pilot group of advisors.   See details of this offering at an earlier post.   While the size and maturity level of each of the organizations varied the level of participation,  critical feedback and differentiation between what different organizations valued was impressive.   The event lasted several hours between the sessions and social aspects.   Here are some of the insights to the conversation:

Polar Extremes:   Passionate discussion

  • Internal Programs:  Over the past decade, have made a decided internal investment and commitment to the development of their own leadership programs.   This allows for deep specialization of leadership styles and internal knowledge of corporate operations.   These groups were some of the most outspoken in terms of what they valued and their interest level in securing outside services.  This approach is more available to slightly larger organizations that have the resources to provide a complete internal talent development option.
  • External Programs:  Other corporations felt it was critical to bring in external services for the development of their leadership cultivation.  They would work with multiple external organization or sister corporations providing a variety of offerings at each level of management development.  Here they valued diversity of training and perspectives to keep their organizations leadership culture evolving and reflecting.  This group was represented from small to large orgs and more governed by values that resources.
  • Hybrid Programs:  A fair number of the companies valued both approaches  and looking at each level of training needed a blend of internal specialization and external awareness of options and techniques.

Collective Alignment:  Enthusiastic Agreement

  • Leadership programs are essential.  Not surprising coming from HR professionals,  but a sincere belief in the development of people and organizations.
  • A desire to collaborate and share with other organizations.   This was a peer group of professionals that valued each other insights and the network in general.
  • Many worked with academic organizations outside of Minnesota due to reputation, brand, and industry recognition
  • Strong alignment that external offerings needed to be primary taught by industry practitioners.   Very adamant that faculty only offerings would be of little interest.

This group of advisors would continue to grow as subsequent meetings would be held.   We where looking to make this a peer community network and community driven.  So topics of focus,  formats and social/work balance would be managed by the group over time to make it valuable to the community.   Our ask as host was to support our efforts in exposing the full leadership spectrum of offerings over time.

Leadesrhip Levels

Building Leadership Development Programs

360 Leadership Circle

Carlson School of Management / Executive Education:    One of the first areas for Product Development at the  we explored was in the area of Leadership.   This is a core discipline of every business school but with changing times requires revisiting long standing programs to make them relevant to corporations and individuals.    Teaming up with faculty, one of the first steps was to reach out to several corporations with long standing relationships to the school for some initial input on the current offerings that had been provided for years.
Initial feedback was very frank and concise:
1. Many larger organization’s HR departments have developed their own leadership training programs specifically to develop key skills and knowledge for growth within their company.
2. The internal programs are more cost effective and with better benchmarks.
3. The employees need a flexibility in their schedule so spending a week off site at a school is very disruptive for them to continue to drive business forward while picking up the training.  Again, a benefit to internal programs.
4. Skill building must be developed over time and with feedback.   A short stint in a classroom is in no way sufficient to build real leaders.
5. Curriculum needs to cover more dimensions of
6. The value of Academic offerings is low.   Would not consider programs unless over 50% was delivered by real world practitioners.
Based on the feedback we had to completely revamp the standard offerings to combine a number of new unique elements into the program:
1. Leverage industry relevant benchmarking standards through out the program to help assess individuals and help them personalize the areas of skills they need to develop.
2. Develop a practice of external practitioners that would be central to the development of content and delivery of the material.
3. Spread the offering over a broader time period.   Each phase would layout a plan for developing several dimensions of skill thus increasing focus and not overloading the development on every front.
4. Support each phase through having individuals assigned to external coaches training in helping the development of personalized roadmaps and ongoing feedback between the onsite courses.   This would span 6 – 9 months of development relationship,  with the option of continuing the coaching relationship on going.
5. A key goal was to provide more of the basic content through online videos.   This would provide flexibility for attendees to consume materials according to their schedules,  allow for reviewing materials trough the coaching phases and minimize the number of on site days at the school and away from the office.   Note **:   Though this has become common practice at many academic institutions,  the UMN is only at the beginning of developing these capabilities.   There was very limited budget, bandwidth, infrastructure, and vision for supporting these features and they had to be postponed until a later date.
6. Building Peer relationships is important in career development and attending a business school is a great way to expand that peer network.  The leadership program would incorporate a lot of peer review in addition to building in social outings to allow relationships to develop.
Through many iterations,  the final offering centered in the middle of the leadership continuum focused on Leading Managers as and initial offerings with plans to develop a suite of offerings spanning the full spectrum of leadership development.
Leadesrhip Levels
This is a quick summary of the initial offering:
Pre Work:  Participants would go online to complete the 360 self assessment to have a base line prior to the program.   They would also identify their boss, 6 peers, and up to 6 direct reports that would be engaged in providing feedback in the program.
Day 1:  What do organizations expect
–  Introductions and exercises to help the group get to know each other
– Overview of leadership competencies needed to succeed at higher levels.   What does progression look like, how does it change over time and responsibilities levels.
– Five Temptations of High Potentials.   Where do leaders make mistakes.
– Interpreting the Leadership Circle Profile results from the pre-work.
Day 2: Accelerate Relationships
– Group exercises, each focused on relationship build skills and communication.   How well can you create a relationship and communicate key messages.   Sharing feedback and identifying strengths and weaknesses.
–  Personal Influence and understanding corporate politics, influences, tactics and approaches.
– Evening social event to network and get to know class mates better.   The hope is that these peer relationships will last past the program and become valued relationship on going in their career.
Day 3: Accelerate Achievement:  Business insight to create compelling strategies for your organization
– Peer exercises and frameworks to building out each piece plan and approach.   Strong group collaboration and feedback.
– Vision and Strategy:  Seeing how your teams strategies align to the overall corporate objectives.
Day 4: Your Personal Development Plan
– Work with your executive coach to review your initial assessment and group feedback.   Develop and action plan to development of skills in your workplace.  Setup schedule for coaching sessions over the next several months.
– Meet with a peer and review each other plans offering feedback.  Setup schedule for peer coaching over the next several months.
(  Approx. 2 month break to work on executing your development plan )
– Review plan with your boss, peers, and direct reports.
– Work with your executive coach and peer coach throughout the break
– Get feedback from all parties prior to attending the next module
Day 5: Authenticity / Integrity
– Welcome, sharing experiences of the past several months,  coaching insights, challenges, etc.
– Situational based exercises designed to share insights into complex situations and behaviors
Day 6: The Healthy You
– Composure and Mindfulness
– Work / Life balance – Managing stress
– Renewal / Health
– Reflect on your ongoing plan for development – Note:  Continued coaching available.
With the basic program in place we set out to create a larger leadership advisory board from a variety of different companies to gain their insights and feedback into the offering.    Stay tuned for the outcomes from the board…