Archive for the ‘Collaboration’ Category

The Integrated Digital Enterprise – The Mission Framework

February 15th

The coming of the integrated digital enterprise is going to introduce a renewed need to revisit the overarching mission.  Each of the elements of the enterprise has been given interactive dimensions by new technologies that are encouraging core constituencies to seek a voice in strategic decision making.

The democratic impulse of the critical constituencies – customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers and host communities – has been created and reinforced by a realistic recognition that major interests are in play.  New technologies, capabilities and management practices have made it possible to move jobs across the globe.  Those who fail to participate in the dialogue risk having others define their interests for them.

And so each part of traditional strategy formulation and implementation has new interactive elements.  Whether it’s crowd sourcing strategy definition or creating new measures of performance (juxtaposing top down controls with bottom up grass roots democratic impulse), the new integrated enterprise will be an interactive one.

Building new leadership styles and management practices will face the challenge of bringing new voices into the conversation about future direction.  To do this effectively, what will be critical to their essence will be the way in which the conversations are conducted.  Above all there will be a new need to align them with a larger framework of mission which is itself aligned with societal context.The Framework


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Authentic Agility

May 8th

Major-league baseball ran into trouble in the beginning of the 2014 season with something that was called the “transfer rule.” The story offers some important lessons for philosophers and technologists at the same time.  In anticipating the future and predicting the way in which technology will shape our markets, there is one critical gut check that needs to be made. An assessment of the human interface needs to be featured prominently on the evaluation checklist.

The story really begins in the 2010 baseball season when a pitcher named Armando Gallaraga from the Detroit Tigers came within one out of a perfect game.  As the videotape would later show, he pitched a perfect game against Cleveland on that June night in Detroit.

There were no hits and no one was allowed to get to first base through the first 26 Cleveland outs. But in the top of the ninth inning, an umpire at first base named Jim Joyce, as he later admitted, blew a call and declared that the runner was safe when in fact he had been thrown out by a throw from first baseman Miguel Cabrera to the pitcher, Gallaraga, as he covered first.

In a day of technology in which key moments in football games often turn on critical replay decisions, this seemed to be the last straw. There needed to be a replay camera in American baseball as well or so the thinking went.  It took the powers who run baseball another couple of years.  But things had been set in motion.

As of this winter a replay rule was created for baseball. Until this point, the judgment of the umpire has been final and even legendary in deciding the fate of baseball games for 150 years.

Perhaps there should’ve been a warning here about what was going to happen. But the replay rule was passed nonetheless and the 2014 season began with replay cameras.

What happens now is that when the play takes place and a team feels that it has been wronged, the manager is allowed to go out and question the call. The umpires consider the protest and they may ask for a replay decision to be made by someone in a control room in New York.

In practice, the replay rule has led to some annoyingly long delays as sometimes the decision takes three or four minutes of waiting. At least in football, the camera trains it’s picture on the replay official who is looking at the replay camera and agonizing over how to make the call. Baseball’s anonymous remote judge in New York seems particularly arbitrary. But this wasn’t the end of it.

There was also a need, major-league baseball believed, to clarify a few fine points of the game so that it would be possible to make clear-cut decisions. The entry of a third-party, the anonymous replay official, seemed to force a greater need for precision, or so it was thought.

And so, the transfer rule was modified. This is when a player catches the ball and transfers it from his glove to his throwing hand in order to make a play. To make it clear, the officials believed, the transfer rule should require a player to catch the ball and to make a clean transfer. If the ball was dropped, then the initial play was ruled an error and not an out.

What this led to were some amazing plays where a player might catch a ball run three strides seem to make a transfer and then drop the ball only to be told that not only was his team to suffer the consequences of the dropped ball but the initial play was no longer an out either.

Needless to say, the precision of clarifying the transfer rule created a whole new set of problems. After two or three weeks the officials have given up on transfer rule purity and gone back to the old way.  The game reverted the old method of relying on judgment calls, at least for transfers. There is still a replay camera but it no longer dominates the way it did when the game was trying for perfect clarity.  Somehow when someone truly great is playing, the speed, precision and finesse are all combined.

I think this compromise is more in the spirit of baseball and perhaps the replays will go as well.  During this controversy, I have been reminded many times of an experience that I had in the late 90s when I was invited to go to St. Louis to make a speech to a postal audience and to join the Chief Operating Officer of the USPS who was going to dedicate a stamp at Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals played baseball. At the Postal Service it became known that I was a huge baseball fan. In fact, I had been a lapsed baseball fan until friends introduced me to the Baltimore Orioles in Cal Ripken’s day and I found something that I had lost as a kid growing up.

Baseball was a great common denominator for the USPS. There were many times that people said to me “oh yeah I remember you, you’re the Orioles guy”.

Someone thought of me and did me the favor of inviting me go to St. Louis to the dedication. We gathered in the St. Louis Cardinals locker room before the ceremony when we would go out onto the field.  I stood around with several others who were going to go onto the field and we talked baseball. One man in particular was an especially nice guy, a gentle retired Cardinal who eventually was introduced to me as Ozzie Smith. I realized that I was talking to one of the five greatest shortstops of all time[i].

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 4.35.05 PMWhat do you say to Ozzie Smith? I realized that we were going to get a huge big round of applause when we went out to the field and it was going to have nothing to do with any of the postal guys or even other celebrities who were with us.  Instead it was going to be for this modest man.

I asked Ozzie whether there was anything that I should’ve known about making a double play or something equally lame. He modestly demurred and didn’t embarrass me by making fun of my dumb question but instead told me something about it being in the flow.

I later read the famous statement of Honus Wagner (another great Shortstop) that’s on the wall of the baseball Hall of Fame that “it don’t take much to be a ballplayer, if you are a ballplayer”.

Ozzie Smith was such a ballplayer and the memory of his manner seemed an appropriate conclusion to considering baseball’s attempt at precision with the transfer rule. Ozzie probably wouldn’t have needed to have the transfer rule clarified or to have umpires make “proximity calls” giving him the benefit of the doubt. He was that good. But his finesse was also not something, I think, that could easily be judged by the replay official in a remote studio in New York.  There are moments when humans and events interact in a manner that cannot be made more precise with technology and it’s an important factor to consider in judging the trajectory of future events.  There will be cases where forecasts aren’t as useful as just being in the flow.


[i] Cal Ripken of course, Ozzie Smith, Derek Jeter, Ernie Banks and Honus Wagner would be my five nominees.

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The Coming Tension: The Democratic High Performance Enterprise

April 19th

There is a growing tension that will will be seen in the future Enterprise as many of the same technologies that are making it possible for new voices to be heard will also empower the sometimes opposing effect of top-down, centralized management.

I have discussed the dynamics of the bottom up communications revolution from a number of perspectives. But in essence what is most important is the recognition that the constituencies of the traditional firm–the myriad stakeholders are being given a new voice What’s more., the transparency of the modern enterprise makes it possible for these stakeholders to see the effect of the forces of competition. They can see and now they have every reason to be concerned.

What the empowerment of stakeholder constituencies has done is to create a new democratic force that will ultimately change the dynamics of the traditional hierarchical enterprise. The force of democracy will exert new pressures that will ultimately change historical traditions and strategic priorities for the future.

Yet at the same time, technology is making it possible to improve performance in the short term by creating a new age of performance management.  Today we live in the era of the smart enterprise as IBM might put it where there are indicators of performance, intelligence about the movement of the operating parts and interoperability among information systems.  By creating measures of performance where none have existed in the past, the modern enterprise is going to be able to wire itself to a new performance ethic.

The Coming TensionMany of the conversations about data and technology are leading in this direction.  The Internet of Things and the new capabilities of Big Data analytics are going to empower the power of top down controls at the same time that Information Technology has strengthened the capacity of the grassroots organization to assert new powers from the bottom up.

That there will be new tensions within the modern organization as top down meets bottom up.  Successful future leaders will build the capacity to mitigate tension and establish decision priorities.  There will be times when different, and possibly contradictory priorities are most important to the future of the enterprise.

To establish principles of service and frameworks for evaluating value will be critical in defining the ultimate goal by which these contrary impulses may be reconciled in the future

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October 26th

The need to gain alignment among the members of the leadership team is a traditional refrain in discussions of strategy formulation and implementation.  There are few who would argue that it will be possible to be successful if the members of the team are not in agreement.

One of the things that we found at the USPS during years of intense change in the business environment, was that it’s exceptionally difficult to know whether you have alignment.  People won’t tell you.  It’s not that there is intentional deception.  Often leaders of businesses and functional leaders want to be loyal and they will say that they are aligned with the boss’s policy direction.

But there is value in probing to know what they understand.  If you don’t know whether you are aligned, you will inevitably communicate this to the enterprise whether by intention or not.  The trajectory of your strategic journey will be skewed.


Getting on the Same Page 

One way to explore the degree of alignment is one that we used with the senior leadership team.  Our analysis turned on the “radar chart” above.  What we did to start off involved choosing the salient features of the workplace environment.  (Here we show five key features.)

We developed a brief presentation that explored each of the variables – the regulatory environment, technology, the workplace and degree of change in human capital matters, changes in the marketplace, and changes involving the competition.

By interviewing each of the members of the team (see the red and blue lines in the graphic used as illustratioins) we were able to compare the ways in which different members of the team had a different profile from one another or an average of their estimates might agree with outside “experts”.  Creating a graphic like this one provides a way to communicate the areas of alignment back to the team.

What comes next may be the most difficult question of all.   Even when its clear that there are differences among parts of the leadership team and even when its clear that the differences involve specific questions such as estimating the speed with which technology change is forecast to impact the future of the enterprise, the second question is why?  Did the leaders learn the right lessons about the market?  Do they understand the implications of new technology?  Highlighting alignment is only a first step on the transformational path but its an important one.

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Collaboration, Performance and Agility

September 22nd

Strategy is frequently divided into a discussion of strategy formulation and strategy implementation. The same issues that make the formulation of strategy complex in settings where transformation is necessary also confound effective implementation but not necessarily in ways that are immediately obvious.

In discussions of implementation, one of the most common themes in the networked age is the recognition of the growing need for collaboration and the importance of building skills and capabilities to support it. In part this stems from the recognition that initiatives and change programs cross boundaries far more easily in an Internet age than might ever have been the case before. What’s more, providing service to customers and addressing today’s customer needs are functions more likely to demand access to data that is housed in what might have traditionally been completely different silos (e.g. Finance and Customer Service). The need for collaborative methods to address and improve customer experience is also a common conversation and the need to become more skillful in building  effective teams is a phrase that is often repeated.

A second theme that is equally common in discussions with leading edge management thinkers is the quest for ever higher performance one of the most popular business books of the past decade has focused on execution and on the techniques that famous leaders of high-performing companies and agencies have evolved in order to manage performance effectively.

Finally, the third theme that is also common is the discussion of the need for agility in implementing strategy.  The Monitor group talks about the need for dynamic implementation of strategies in changing markets. Here where the focus is on transformation and where changing markets and conditions are a gift, this concept of dynamic implementation is likely to be particularly important.

These three concepts of collaboration, performance improvement and agility are all important to effective implementation and they are also so common that they can be a cliché.  So what is important about noting often discussed best practices like these?

What’s interesting is that the virtues of those who are best at collaboration and performance improvement are often not the same as the virtues that interfuse an agile organization.

In a recent white paper  the Monitor group discussed his views for tactical solutions that address the issues that organizations encounter when they need to sustain their effectiveness in implementing strategy even as conditions change.

Collaboration, effective team building and performance improvement each require consistency. Establishing a framework and sustaining it overtime is a critical aspect of aligning the organization’s focus on clear goals and measuring progress toward achieving them.  Building trust that goals will be established fairly and that performance will be assessed in a consistent manner and measured consistently and results will be used in a responsible manner all take time and trust building.

But in a time of changing conditions, where adaptation needs to take place to allow for the formulation of new strategies and where new measures may need to be used, consistency is often the first thing that is sacrificed. Dynamic implementation is, by its nature, a process of change. Skilled practitioners are likely to emphasize the importance of effective communications because they have experience with the problems of coordination and apparent inconsistencies that arise in trying to adapt to changing circumstances in a pressured high-performance environment.

What’s important to recognize is that collaboration, performance management, and agility are often working against one another. To be able to adapt to changing market conditions and modified plans will require a vigorous program of updating the expectations and the accounting for performance. To modify the tools without disrupting their effectiveness is likely to be deceptively challenging. Often the statistics that are used to measure performance depend upon longitudinal analysis of historical trends. Or, to take a different example, the ability to conduct effective analysis depends upon the capacity of the organization to select measures that can be cascaded into the organization. But today performance is going to be measured across organizational boundaries and sometimes across national boundaries.   When the numbers are changed, they must be adjusted at each level. The risk is that this process of updating the accounting and modifying the statistics in a responsible manner is one that is easily subject to misunderstanding.  What its likely to mean in the end is that there will be a need for a new concept in strategy for high performing organizations – agile data integrity.  In a very practical sense there will be a need for data infrastructures that can balance many things that often create tensions –  security, consistency, integrity and market agility.

The tension that underlies this observation – that the collaborative, high performing enterprise and the agile enterprise may be pulling in different directions – becomes highly meaningful in the presence of increasing stakeholder activism.  Ultimately its a process that will force attention to be given to the issues of the rights of constituencies to define the future.




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Leadership Override

September 1st

As the election inevitably encourages all of us to think about our democracy, at the same time, organizations throughout the economy are becoming more democratic.  Technology has made it possible for unprecedented participation in even the most sensitive decisions.  But what this is going to do is to open a new set of questions about the times when leaders must override democratic process and how far they should go.

The problem is not that democracy has flaws and is limited in it’s ability to curb factional excess.  This has been well known and debated since the Federalist Papers.  My concern has not been with the limitations of democracy as much as with the things that executives do to correct for them.  Our democracy has been built on the notion that leadership in time of crisis can make up for democracy’s inefficiencies.  There are many examples of great men and women who have stepped forward to lead in spite of the challenges that were put in their way by democratic process and even the Constitution.  Few would debate that Lincoln and FDR should be ranked in among our greatest leaders.  Yet in each case there have been major questions about whether they had violated Constitutional principle.

In our time, the energy crises of the seventies offered examples of massive economic disruptions that had to be answered.  In the energy crisis I saw both the best and the worst sides of executive action.   I had seen Frank Zarb and Bill Simon and the White Houses of Nixon, Ford and Carter acting to save important economic interests by moving far outside of the box.

Before I ever reached the challenges of the energy crisis, I had seen the difficulties that democratic process, our administrative laws and our modern political culture impose on leaders as they try to step up to address national priorities.  I also had been able to take some measure of individuals who I thought were great leaders and therefore I had a sense for the ability of individuals to prevail in spite of the constraints.  I had seen the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and I knew that the capacity of leaders was severely limited by our customary political process. I believed in Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus and in the integrity of their personal leadership. I had seen Watergate.  But it was in the energy crisis that I began to appreciate leadership and its limitations.

In 1973 I had been working at the Office of Management and Budget on energy and environmental policy when the price of oil jumped overnight from $4.75 ($22.89 inflation adjusted) a barrel to $9.35 a barrel ($40.84 today).  Even more shocking to Americans was the way that the energy crisis began.  When the Yom Kippur War broke out in October 1973, the oil producing nations who had formed OPEC only a few years earlier acted to use an oil embargo to seek to influence the outcome of the war.  The fact that a cartel of oil producing nations could successfully withhold supplies and virtually cripple parts of the U.S., Japanese and European economies, was a surprise of epic proportions.

The ferocity of the impact of the first oil embargo is still surprising years later.  The government was thrown into wild activity trying to respond to its many effects.  I was there when it happened.  In January of 1994, on a few hours warning, I flew to New York City with my boss, Frank Zarb, to go to yet another crisis meeting.  In the car I asked where we were going and I learned that we were headed for City Hall to meet the new Mayor, Abraham Beam.  The diminutive Mayor had been in office for 11 days when Frank and I reached New York to find a City Hall in transition. The drapes on the high windows in the Mayor’s office had left with the previous Administration of Mayor John V. Lindsay.

We were puzzled at first by the Mayor’s urgent request for a meeting.  The conversation took a rambling course through the landscape of energy policy – converting power plants to coal, changing daylight savings to make it permanent.  And then, the Mayor blurted out that he had no gasoline and did we think we could help?

My clearest memory of that moment is of looking up at the high bare windows of the Mayor’s office. To my horror, I saw the first flakes of snow beginning to fall.  I understood why we had been asked to come to New York.

Frank Zarb jumped up and went to a phone on the side of the Mayor’s office and set about making calls, redirecting supplies on their way to New York Harbor.  Our intervention no doubt caused disruptive ripples in the oil supply chain that were litigated for years.  But New York got the gasoline to plow their streets.  I had stood there in the Mayor’s office and watched a classic case of executive leadership in crisis.  I’m not sure it could be done today.

Today, more than 3 decades later, there are again signs of a major energy storm.  The U.S. continues to depend on oil supplies that come from Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria and many other places where our relationships are troubled.   But today there is vastly more demand for supplies as China and other developing economies enter world energy markets.  And there may be less supply.  Indeed, there are many respected analysts of energy policy who argue today that we have reached the point of peak oil supply.

Frank Zarb’s decisive action remains imprinted on my mind as the image of executive action of the old school.  Today the image of the decisive CEO pulling levers is a rare exception to a more common pattern of activist constituencies and negotiated compromises.  Political partisanship and division are far more typical than leaders who believe in the principle of the common – in self interest rightly understood – are rare.

The central problem for me, is not only to be able to create a democratic process that can resolve the tensions between the proclivities of the marketplace with a concern for equity but also to create mechanisms that will guide leaders even when they feel they must lead rather than react.


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Directors Hazard and the New Rules of Governance

July 20th

The Murdoch hearings before Parliament gained a global audience and once again served to focus attention on the governance issues that now seem to arise at every turn.  Or, at least, when something goes wrong and we look back to determine who was responsible? or who should have been responsible? we seem to be confronted repeatedly with issues of governance and questions of moral hazard.

Where you responsible Mr. Murdoch?  No, he answered the people he trusted were responsible and the people that they trusted.

Unfortunately, since there had plainly been wrongdoing in the interest of selling more newspapers, Mr. Murdoch’s answer became the centerpiece of much of the coverage that followed.  Should he have assumed greater responsibility?  Was it even true that he didn’t know what was happening?

For directors who are responsible for protecting the well being of their companies, this answer raised troubling questions (once again) about the nature of moral hazard.  Economists talk about moral hazard (a condition that occurs when a party that is insulated from risk behaves differently than they would if they were exposed to the risk) as a case of information asymmetry.  Insurers need to be protected, according to the theory, from cases where the insured do not behave as they would if they had no insurance, if they were themselves subject to the full risks of their behavior.

In the 17th Century when insurance companies were first grappling with the concept of risk, they sought to understand whether the people that they insured would behave in a riskier manner as a result of the insurance.  In the case of health insurance today, there is ongoing debate over whether insurance encourages an overconsumption of health care and then there is a debate over whether that’s a bad thing.  Co-payments and other devices are used to encourage the consumer to assume part of the risk.

But in recent years, especially after the financial crises of 2008, the question of risk to the taxpayer became clear as institutions were protected, at taxpayer cost, from behaviors in which they had assumed too much risk.  Directors and national leaders, it was reasoned, would be better able to protect shareholders and taxpayers if the actions of CEOs were less protected and if their decisions were required to be transparent.

Michael Anteby, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Harvard Business School, writes in Working Knowledge, an HBS blog that “many companies today operate like Russian nesting dolls, relying heavily on other companies or external individuals to conduct many of their activities”.  (“Rupert Murdoch and the Seeds of Moral Hazard”)  Anteby expands the concept of agency and moral hazard by looking more broadly at the implications of the interconnectedness of our society.  He is concerned that when companies interconnect the “associated moral hazard often goes unnoticed.  Such risk can prove even greater when the various elements of the ‘delegation chain’ obey different standards.”

Whether or not the Murdochs knew about the phone hacking at the News of the World they were plainly in a situation of “plausible deniability”.  In the food and apparel industries, Anteby argues, there is a need to “secure” all elements of the production chain.  Whether they have in fact recognized this and whether there is a similar requirement in other industries is a debatable point.  But certainly one of the most interesting consequences of Rupert Murdoch’s denial of responsibility for the actions of his agents was to raise once again the question:  If not you, then who is responsible for the actions of your employees?

Future directors will have to think carefully about what these emerging concepts of “responsibility” will mean for them.  Will transparency be sufficient to protect the shareholders and the public?

We have reached a time when every company is an IT company.  Some Boards are beginning to see this and to grapple with the risks associated with information.  They may not yet have reached the point where they are grappling with the risks of information asymmetry and, if transparency is an antidote to the problem of the Russian nesting dolls, the consequences that this form of insurance will convey.

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The Socialization of Social Networks

January 20th

Perhaps its the movie The Social Network, perhaps something else that’s going on in the marketplace, but it’s not hard to to encounter a conversation about Facebook and Linked in and other networks these days.

Many adults (who don’t use Facebook much) are worried about the way that barriers between private lives and work lives are being broken down. Others are worried about the very real issues of privacy and Internet security. Some lament the way in which lives are being changed by electronic media (there is a temptation at this point to ask whether that’s not locking the barn door.)

But the undeniable conclusion of these conversations is that the social networks and social media are being socialized and its just a matter of time for this rear guard. Marketing campaigns, corporate communication campaigns, supplier relationship management, customer service, customer experience management – there are a very long list of commercial best practices in communications that are already being challenged by the existence of social media. “See us on Facebook and Twitter” is a common corporate marketing statement these days.

Last June at the Nielson media conference Sheryl Sandberg (of Facebook) talked about the “End of Email”.  Now it may be more faithful to her pitch to say that she was arguing that using Facebook where relationships are more “authentic” and far easier to reach was a more effective way of advertising than email.

So through one path or another I have been left to think about the future of social media and the role that these networks will play in strategic communications in the future.

And this inevitably raises the question of whether social media really will be authentic or at least whether communications will necessarily come from authentic people.  If a company is using social media to manage relationships (with employees, customers etc.) why stop there?  Can’t the network itself anticipate who should be in the conversation?  Why not have the platform monitor the nature of the content?  They do already.  Why not use this knowledge to shape the conversation?  The makings of a novel, for sure…

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The Power of Co-Creation

October 17th

After shutting down communications to take the time to focus on writing Democratizing Transformation: New Rules for 21st Century Leaders, I knew that it was time to go live again and to share what I have learned.  But where to draw the line? When do you stop reading and writing and start sharing?  Then I spent the morning with Francis-Gouillart and his sponsors from PRTM, a consulting firm that has specialized in operational consulting.  PRTM is well known to those who specialize in subjects like supply chain management and strategic sourcing.

Francis Gouillart and his co-author Venkat Ramaswamy of the Michigan Business School have written an interesting book on the Power of Co-creation. The co-creation of value is a concept that has been given increasing attention since it became clear that Web 2.0 was one of the products of the Internet revolution.  Just as some media were declaring an end to the Internet bubble, it became clear that eBay and uTube and Google maps were something new.  Platforms were being created where the users were creating the value through their contributions to the collective good.

So the early spotters of new trends such as Charles Firestone at the Aspin Institute organized conferences.  But of course, as well-informed professionals gathered to consider the new value of co-creation, some of its problems became apparent.  Motivation is not often symmetrical.  Intellectual property is ambiguous when two parties are creating it.  The list of problems with co-creation goes on.

In the pendulum swing of ideas, co-creation of value had come and receded before many people had the opportunity to think about what it might mean for them.

What Francis Gouillart and PRTM have seen however is that co-creation offers the opportunity to open the value chain to new partnerships an alliances.  So motivation is asymmetrical.  Buyers and sellers may not have balanced motivation.  There may be other opportunities in a world in which handoffs don’t go from hand to hand.  A time for right brain thinkers if there ever was one!  Time to come back on-line.

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Design Thinking and 21st Century Leadership Skills

April 16th

Garth Saloner, the Dean of Stanford Business School was interviewed by Lenny Mendonca in the McKinsey Quarterly and explained that at Stanford Business School, as they think about educating the next generation of business leaders, that their focus in a world without borders has moved from the hard skills of accounting, finance and supply chain management to the softer skills related to leadership.

In a world without borders, where the management of global enterprise or even global projects is taken as a given, there is a growing need to train managers who are skilled in encouraging collaboration.

The harder skills are a given. Saloner refers to them as a type of “hygiene.” His focus has turned to leading groups in collaboration where analytic thinking is critical, to communications (especially writing) and to education in the global marketplace. Stanford requires students to work abroad in countries where they have no prior experience.

Innovation is especially prized in a world that is inventing new ways to do things.

The thing that is starting to blossom as an approach and as an idea in universities with business schools as a partner is a whole area of what folks call design thinking. And that’s really the creative process of identifying a need but then working with the customers, through a process of rapid prototyping, to figure out how to develop a product or to solve their needs.

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