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Enabling Talent Mobility by BERSIN & ASSOCIATES
 

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Business Simulation at Sun Microsystems Builds Organizational Leadership and Collaboration ...

Business Simulation at Sun Microsystems Builds Organizational Leadership and Collaboration
May 2009

* Bersin & Associates is the only research and advisory consulting firm focused solely on WhatWorks research in enterprise learning and talent management.

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    Enabling Talent Mobility by BERSIN & ASSOCIATES Enabling Talent Mobility by BERSIN & ASSOCIATES Document Transcript

    • CASE STUDY BERSIN & ASSOCIATES Enabling Talent Mobility Business Simulation at Sun Microsystems Builds Organizational Leadership and Collaboration —Kim Lamoureux, Principal Analyst | May 2009 IN THIS CASE STUDY FOCUS: Sun Microsystems, a global leader in networking systems, has a highly developed and effective leadership talent strategy. Its programs are designed to support the company’s overall business PLANNING strategy, its core values and its company culture. Notably, the & STRATEGY leadership strategy is driven from the top-down, with the CEO highly engaged in both developing programs and delivering the message CONTENT through the company ranks. DEVELOPMENT An important component of the leadership strategy at Sun is LEARNING its award-winning business simulation learning program, called PROGRAMS “Leadership Connections.” The program presents real-life business cases to senior-level executives, who work in teams to run a fictional LEARNING company (called “Helios”) that looks very much like Sun itself. TECHNOLOGY Leadership Connections is one of several leadership development programs executed under the Leadership Academy. Since the ANALYTICS & program’s inception, Sun has rapidly engaged its managers and MEASUREMENT leaders, trained them, and developed a team of individuals who are intimately familiar with the company, their individual leadership TALENT strengths and weaknesses, and Sun Microsystem’s future. MANAGEMENT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY TABLE OF CONTENTS Company Overview 4 Business Environment 5 Learning Environment 6 Leadership Framework 7 Talent Management Integration 9 Leadership Program Portfolio 10 Leadership Connections 13 Comprehensive Program Design 14 Executive Engagement 17 Change Management 17 Implementation 18 Maintenance 18 Technology 19 Analysis of Sun’s Leadership Development Strategy 22 Metrics and Evaluation 23 Lessons Learned 24 Flexibility Is Key 24 Implementation Requires Coordination 24 Executive Engagement 25 BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Next Steps / Looking Ahead 25 Conclusion 26 Appendix I: Table of Figures 28 About Us 29 About This Research 29 BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Company Overview Sun Microsystems, based in Santa Clara, California, is a global leader in network software, systems, services and microelectronics that power everything from home appliances to advanced mobile device applications. With nearly 34,000 employees and business operations in 100 countries, its leadership challenge is as vast as its operations. In FY’2008, the company booked revenues of $13.8 billion. The company was founded in 1982 with just four employees; its first product, a workstation, included TCP / IP, now known as the Internet protocol suite. By 1988, the company reached $1 billion in revenue. The company continued to grow during the next two decades. A turning point came in 2006, when the chief operating officer became CEO, KEY POINT replacing the company’s cofounder, who retained his position as chairman of the board. As often happens with a top-level leadership change, the new The new CEO CEO brought a fresh focus to the company and, specifically, to leadership development. In fact, it was a core piece of his overall business strategy. The brought a fresh CEO was personally behind developing a Sun talent management strategy focus to Sun that aligned leadership development with business and people goals, and, specifically, company values, and competencies the company and its leaders needed. to leadership Among his initiatives during his first year, the CEO and his team consolidated development. what had been a number of different legacy learning and development (L&D) programs that were dispersed throughout the company. Most were external programs for training the company’s customers on new products; others were internal programs designed to build employee skills and leadership. However, the company had been quite focused on training customers and all internal training had “… died on the vine….” according to the senior manager of employee training. Figure : Sun Microsystems at a Glance • Year Founded: 1982 • Headquarters: Santa Clara, California • Fiscal Year 2008 Revenues: $13.880 billion • Total Employees: 33,423 worldwide • Ranking: 184 on the FORTUNE 500 (2008) • Stock Symbol: (NASDAQ:JAVA) Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. 1 Source: http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/index.jsp. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Business Environment During its early years, Sun had experienced immediate and rapid growth. Revenues grew exponentially during the company’s first decade in business. But, like many technology-based organizations, the “dotcom” bust in the late 1990s and early 2000s took an enormous toll. Flagging sales, more competitors (in market segments the company had once owned) and its focus on hard-hit sectors (like telecommunications) led to a slowdown in revenue growth. Profitability, too, had become spotty. Analysts had begun to sound the death knell for Sun Microsystems. It was clear to the CEO that Sun required a rapid recovery plan. In identifying leadership strategy as integral to his vision for the company’s future, the CEO was not straying far from the philosophy of his predecessor. Interviewed in Forbes in 2008 about his leadership and management style, the former CEO said, “We had a very strong annual planning process where we had a set of deliverables … including … an “interdependencies” section. It said: To make my plan I need to do the following but here’s what I need out of my peers.” Clearly, the former CEO felt strongly that teamwork and leadership were intertwined with the company meeting its operational and revenue goals. Despite such a strongly stated commitment, during those years of rapid growth the company was much more focused on training customers than on developing its own leaders. A program, called Sun University, developed KEY POINT training that corresponded to new product releases and launches. Even with such a highly developed, outside-facing training organization, internal Teamwork and leadership development had become all but extinct. leadership are two The new CEO’S approach to leadership development was clear – with the qualities that are company struggling (sales were down and two significant staff reductions intertwined with occurred in the space of a year), he wanted strong leaders who were fully engaged in and intimate with his strategy, otherwise it would not be successful. the achievement of operational and Sun hired a chief learning officer (CLO) and consolidated the company’s training operations. Prior to the arrival of the CLO, Sun’s internal and revenue goals external training programs each operated in its own silo, depending on the at Sun. division or product served. Additionally, it was a personnel-heavy operation, BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY with nearly twice the number of learning professionals than are in the organization today.2 ´ BEST PRACTICE The CLO immediately gathered learning and business-unit managers to Creating the role help her design a centralized learning organization that served all of Sun’s of CLO at Sun constituents – customers, employees, community and partners. Microsystems brought new focus and energy for Figure 2: Sun Learning Services – Audiences creating a learning CPEC culture. Drive adoption of Sun technology through Customers buying access to training and Communities Customers education and knowledge training services Partners Employees Training partners to sell Sun badged employee deliver, support, and maintain development of business and Sun technology and services technology skills Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. Learning Environment Sun leaders created Sun Learning Systems (SLS) in June 2006 as a way to organize Sun’s disparate and decentralized training and development efforts. Its overall goal was to ensure that leadership development programs fit the company’s business strategy. Given the new CEO’s focus on human capital, a centralized approach allowed Sun to offer consistent training and development that was 2 For more information, Creating a Business-Driven Learning Organization: Sun Microsystems Shared Learning Services Supports Customers, Partners, Employees and Community, Bersin & Associates / Leighanne Levensaler, March 2009. Available to research members at www.bersin.com/library. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY measurable and in line with company goals. SLS is its own department, separate from human resources. It is organized with a CLO at its top, who ´ BEST PRACTICE reports to the software development group. Approximately four hundred A centralized employees work in this department. approach allowed Because Sun’s main product focus is software, many of its training programs Sun to offer are focused on customers and partners. Whenever the company releases a new application, for example, it involves customer training. SLS develops consistent training applications, courses and programs primarily for customers – but also that and development enrich employee learning throughout the company. Although employee that was training is not a profit center and brings no money into the company, Sun believes that improving the capabilities of its workforce and leadership measurable and in abilities will bring returns in other ways. line with company goals. SLS then built a Sun Microsystems “school” charged with executing programs that advance the CEO’s goal of developing a state-of-the-art learning and leadership culture. The Leadership Academy offers comprehensive, step-wise learning for progressive levels of leadership. The highly developed series of training gives high-performing employees the self-knowledge and business skills needed to move through the company’s ranks successfully, as well as a thorough understanding of the company’s business strategy. It includes a bold new program, called “Leadership Connections.” Leadership Framework After the new organization was formed, SLS leaders asked the CEO what his leaders would need to know to put Sun back on the map. According to one Sun executive, the CEO told them, “I have to be confident I have the right people in place to execute the strategy.” What followed was a consulting process, wherein SLS created a leadership framework that encompassed business results, people results, values and leadership competencies. The consulting process used a number of analysis methods. SLS staff members conducted interviews with the CEO and each of his staff members. As the framework and curricula of the evolving leadership strategy developed, SLS held ongoing meetings to vet the programs with department and business-unit leaders. The CEO himself “… spent a good deal of thought and energy personally designing the framework.” BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY A N A LY S I S Figure 3: Sun’s Leadership Framework The input from senior executives Business Courage Values Collaboration and key business Results Innovation leaders is critical Grow Integrity Make Money Pace Build Our Community to ensure a Enlist Champions Accelerate Our Business strong alignment between Business Acumen Technical Acumen leadership and People Business Execution Relationship Building Leadership Talent Pipeline business strategies. Results Attract Talent Management Competencies Develop Reward Engage Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. What emerged from such thorough analysis was rolled out and implemented quickly, largely because much of it came directly from the CEO. The business results segment of the framework, for example, has become part of the company’s culture and is known as, “The CEO’s 11 words: Grow, make money, build our community, enlist champions, accelerate our business.” The people results portion of the framework advocated developing a leadership pipeline (a talent mobility program) of ready talent who could step into leadership roles. The pipeline reached beyond company walls, including a strategy to recruit outside talent. The company’s stated values, too, came from the new CEO – courage, collaboration, innovation, integrity and pace (e.g., move at the speed of business to win in the marketplace). 3 “Leadership pipeline” refers to an organization’s ongoing need to have a pool of talent that is readily available to fill positions at all levels of management (as well as other key positions) as the company grows. At each level, different competencies, knowledge and experiences are required, and (to keep the pipeline filled) the organization must have programs designed to develop appropriate skills sets. (Also known as the “leadership bench.”) 4 For more information, High-Impact Succession Management: Best Practices, Models and Case Studies in Organizational Talent Mobility, Bersin & Associates / Kim Lamoureux, April 2009. Available to research members at www.bersin.com/library or for purchase at www.bersin.com/hism. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 8
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY One of the most important elements of Sun’s leadership framework and initiative was how well it matched the company’s specific business goals. The company was quite clearly focused on customer acquisition and retention, including attracting a younger demographic. As the CEO noted, “Students grow up to make technology decisions.” Furthermore, the company clearly felt that employee satisfaction was paramount in its business success. The CEO stated, “Sun is about people. They generate the ideas and provide our only sustainable resource.” Talent Management Integration SLS oversees leadership development as just one component of the overall Sun leadership talent strategy – a comprehensive approach to attract and select, assess, develop, and evaluate and reward talent (see Figure 4). Leadership development programs (referred to as “formal curriculum” in the structure) are fully integrated with the overall talent management processes. Figure 4: Sun Leadership Talent Strategy Sun’s Strategy Core Purpose Values Sun’s Leadership Framework Attract & Evaluate & Assess Develop Select Reward Talent • Selection/Interview • Succession and Hi- • Formal curriculum • Performance Guides Potential identification • Coaching Management • On-Boarding/ • Development Planning • Mentoring • Awards Assimilation • Experiences/Assignments • Competitive • Leadership Conference Compensation Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY An example of the integrated talent strategy is the way leadership A N A LY S I S development has been incorporated into hiring. SLS collaborated with HR to incorporate questions, which reflect the needs identified in the talent The integration framework, into the interview guides – so that hiring managers become of leadership part of the process. This assures that future talent coming into the company reflects the skills and values needed to grow the business. In addition, one development of the SLS managers has a reporting relationship with the global talent with other talent management team, collaborating on succession and performance processes management at Sun. This tight partnership ensures alignment and integration of key development priorities, ultimately building bench strength and increasing programs talent mobility. supports a shift Throughout the design of the Leadership Academy classes and the design from individual of the progression of training, Sun leaders kept in mind the lifecycle of a development to leader inside the company. They imagined the kinds of skills an individual organizational would need to become a leader for the first time – as well as how to keep development. that individual in a learning mode, building skills and capabilities as his / her job responsibilities became more complex. In addition, Sun leaders thought about how to identify high-potential employees. All of these individuals would become part of an overall leadership management strategy; they are even evaluated “stealthily” as vice presidents during the Leadership Connections program. Leadership Program Portfolio According to Sun, leadership development is broadly defined to encompass the complexities and challenges of guiding the company’s success. In this KEY POINT way, it ensures that training and development plans are closely tied with Leadership business results. Leadership development is offered in many ways – online classes, offsite, person-to-person workshops, formal and informal mentoring development at and coaching, and networking. The programs, therefore, reflect the diversity Sun is broadly of formative experiences that instruct and develop a leader. While formal defined to learning programs are a critical component of Sun’s strategy, it also offers other development opportunities, such as special assignments, mentoring encompass the and coaching. complexities and challenges of guiding the company’s success. 5 “Bench strength” refers to the capabilities and readiness of potential successors to move into key professional and leadership positions. 6 A “high-potential employee” is an employee who has been identified as having the potential, ability and aspiration for successive leadership positions within the company. Often, these employees are provided with focused development as part of a succession plan and are referred to as “HiPos.” BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 0
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY In the Leadership Academy, the targeted audiences are new managers, directors and vice presidents; experienced managers, directors and vice ´ BEST PRACTICE presidents; and, high-potential leaders (all internal promotion or external Prior to developing hire). The types of courses and learning experiences are tailored to meet the needs of these diverse learning audiences, and are designed to: leadership programs, • Prepare leaders for success as they enter a new role; SLS defined • Build and refine existing leadership skills, improving personal and the targeted team capabilities; audiences, the • Build the next generation of leaders who are likely to make significant unique needs jumps in level in the next five years (limited enrollment); and, of each and the • Align leaders around strategic goals and objectives, while preparing overarching talent leaders at all levels to lead within a particular business context (may objectives. include special initiative programs). Figure 5: Leadership Academy Framework • P rograms focus ed on preparing leaders for s ucces s as they enter a new L eadership role for the firs t time (Manager, Direc tor, VP ) Transitions • E arly partic ipation (within 3-4 months ) F irs t time roles (internal promotions or external hires ) • P rograms focus ed on building and refining exis ting leaders hip s kills . Building Improving personal and team c apabilities for leaders in c urrent roles . Leadership • E xperienc ed or c urrent leaders (internal leaders or external hires ) Skill & Capability Ongoing opportunities for participation • L imited enrollment programs geared at building the next generation of leaders who are likely to make s ignific ant jumps in level in the next 5 yrs Hi Potentials • Nominations and s elections from high potential pools Ongoing opportunities for participation • Targeted programs for aligning leaders around s trategic goals and Business objec tives . P reparing leaders at all levels to lead within a partic ular bus ines s c ontext Transformation • May inc lude s pec ial initiative programs Ongoing opportunities for participation Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Supporting processes and programs include coaching, mentoring, an annual leadership conference and experiences / assignments (e.g., overseas projects). ´ BEST PRACTICE All programs are designed to build from one another to amplify the impact Developing leaders of each. For example, there are role-specific mentoring programs that complement audience-specific leadership development courses, including at all levels will Onboarding to Sun, New Role Transitions (for managers, directors or vice provide Sun with presidents); and, Development for High Potentials. In the program, mentor a ready pipeline and mentee create a development plan that encompasses goals, specific activities (such as leadership development courses), relationship expectations of leaders, as and a schedule for regular contact to monitor progress. well as a shared The progressive nature of the training assures Sun leaders (no matter their understanding title) consistent, ongoing learning that prepares them for the next step of the company’s in their careers. It also provides Sun with a ready pipeline of leaders who goals and understand the intricacies of the organization and their roles in meeting leadership beliefs. overall company goals. Figure 6: Developing Leaders at All Levels Sun’s Leadership Acadamy VP Multiple options for you to grow Transition 3 up and across our organization, and develop your career in the Director way that best enables you to maximize your impact. Transition 2 Manager Transition 1 Deep functional experts Individual Contributor Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 2
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY The core of the Leadership Academy program begins with newly hired and / or promoted managers participating in the New Manager program, ´ BEST PRACTICE during which they learn to coach employees and set performance Sun’s leadership expectations. This program helps them to transition from being an individual contributor to managing a group or a team. framework includes transition For those already in management roles, the Experienced Manager Essentials program aligns with Sun’s leadership framework and business priorities, as courses, as well well as the core competencies defined for managers at Sun. Experienced as programs to managers build their teams and influential leadership skills – and receive enhance core coaching and feedback on their abilities from both their peers and staffs. skills sets once New directors must take the New Director Transition course (presented in a a manager has four-day format), which focuses on individual development, organizational adjusted to his / leadership and Sun’s business success. Through this program, new directors: her new role. • Realize their roles in driving and implementing Sun’s strategy; • Gain an understanding of what leadership capabilities are needed and expected; • Learn strategies to further develop and drive their organizations to success; and, • Reach an awareness of their personal leadership strengths and areas of vulnerability. The capstone of the Leadership Academy is Leadership Connections, recipient of the Bersin & Associates Learning Leader® Leadership Excellence award. The remainder of this case study will describe the details of the design, implementation, maintenance and measurement of the Leadership Connections program. Leadership Connections Leadership Connections was developed, after a rigorous RFP (request for proposal) process8. This program prepares mid- and senior-level leaders through a number of learning modalities, including skills assessment, coaching, training and a sophisticated custom-designed simulation.  For more information, Learning Leaders® 2008: Lessons from the Best, Bersin & Associates, February 2009. Available to research members at www.bersin.com/library or at www.bersin.com/leaders. 8 The RFP process was conducted in partnership with Oliver Wyman (a management consulting firm) and BTS (a business simulation developer). BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Figure 7: Leadership Connections Workshop Pre-Workshop Workshop Experience Post-Workshop Experience 96-100 Participants Experience (virtual) (virtual) Supported by ELT and VPs 24 24 24 24 Simulation Worlds Facilitators 6 6 6 6 Simulation Teams Coaches 4.5 day Business Simulation Teams make over 100 decisions per round while running the business A session represents 1 year; teams run 3 sessions Teams compete for market share and growth Plenary sessions with ELT and guest speakers Market winners present winning strategies VPs assess each team and give feedback on leadership OW coaches assess the VPs and give feedback Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. The targeted audience is all Sun directors (1,050) and vice presidents (189) with at least one year of service in their positions. Each session is made up ´ BEST PRACTICE of about 100 directors and 20 vice presidents. Participants are selected for all sessions (based on geography and function) in order to bring together a Participants are diverse group from across the company. Every director and vice president is selected based on expected to participate in this program at some point in his / her Sun career. geography and Broadly, Leadership Connections focuses on the following: function in order to bring together • Individual / personal leadership; a diverse group • Organizational leadership and collaboration across Sun’s business from across the functions; and, company. • Business / financial leadership in order to grow Sun’s business. Comprehensive Program Design The bulk of the workshop takes place in a five-day, offsite class; however, the preparation for Leadership Connections begins well before the session. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Pre-Work – The program begins with three assessments (360-degree feedback, FIRO-B and Hogan Development Survey0) and one-on-one coaching for vice presidents and directors to review assessments, prepare for the learning event and set learning goals. Participants are given four to six weeks to complete their preparations. Given the results of their assessments, the participants engage in one-on-one coaching sessions scheduled two weeks from the start date for the workshop. All pre-work must be completed prior to the coaching sessions. Directors may also complete two optional online courses (about two hours in length), focused on assessing financial performance and competing for customer value at Sun. Although these self-paced learning modules are optional, Sun stresses that to fully engage in and win the simulation (see next paragraph), the pre-work is a necessity. Custom Simulation – Next, the five-day, offsite workshop experience centers on a highly realistic business simulation in which each vice president ´ BEST PRACTICE facilitates and coaches a team of six directors. Vice presidents arrive half a day early to rehearse their roles and practice their coaching skills. Teams are Although not the challenged to run a simulated version of Sun’s business as CEOs over a three- targeted audience, year timeframe. At the end of each day’s simulation “year,” teams receive the vice presidents feedback on their business results and are stack-ranked within their “world” of four teams. At the end, teams present key learnings and recommended who participate in solutions to senior management. Winners are selected based on the key the simulation are success metrics at Sun – revenue growth, EBITDA and long-term able to develop customer value. (See Figure 8.) their assessment The vice presidents who participate in the Leadership Connections and coaching program as facilitators are also being evaluated in a “stealth” manor. Their capabilities. performance as coaches and leaders with their teams is evaluated. “It’s a great way to watch development and determine if we can get our vice presidents to become better at assessing talent, giving feedback and coaching.” Senior Manager, Employee Training, Sun Microsystems 9 The FIRO-B (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation - Behavior™) instrument is used to uncover how personal needs affect behavior towards others, and what is wanted from them in return. 10 Hogan Assessments reveal competencies, derailers, values, reasoning skills and leadership characteristics to help understand the underlying sources of employee behavior. 11 An indicator of financial performance, “EBITDA” refers to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Figure 8: Simulation Screen Shot – Sales and Channels Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. Integrated Skills Development – Throughout the simulation, an Oliver Wyman consultant coaches and observes the vice presidents, and provides ´ BEST PRACTICE feedback on their leadership skills and talent development style. The coaches also facilitate “Leader Lab,” feedback sessions designed to reinforce Sun Leader labs allow leadership competencies and values. Leader labs allow both directors and participants to vice presidents to share learning goals and desired leadership behaviors share learning – and receive feedback and explore team dynamics in real-time. In addition to coaching a simulation team, each vice president also serves on two panels goals and desired that are designed to help directors link their simulation learning to their real leadership worlds at Sun. behaviors – and Post-Work – Three to six weeks later, participants take part in a one-hour receive feedback telephone, follow-up coaching session with the same coach with whom they and explore completed their pre-work sessions. Also, directors must brief their teams team dynamics in onSun’s growth strategies and other key leadership learning using a Cascade real-time. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Kit2. They then have the opportunity to apply the lessons to their own organizations. The Cascade Kit is meant to bring the lessons of Leadership Connections (including the metrics, the strategy and the lessons learned) to the rest of the organization. The directors can also report feedback in an online survey. Executive Engagement The CEO and senior executives were key participants in the pilot of KEY POINT the simulation. Executive In several extensive planning sessions, the company’s top executives worked with SLS, BTS and Oliver Wyman to design a business simulation that would involvement in the be realistic, authentic and closely mirrored to Sun. Further, the simulation simulation included would have to be fully integrated with tightly aligned skills-building one-on-one sessions. The goal was not to have Sun directors experience just any business simulation, rather, it was to give them a chance to run a company just like interviews, Sun as CEOs. This is how they would come to truly understand the CEO’s new participation strategic imperatives, which would be at the heart of the simulation. in concept Similarly, all the data, concepts, financials and initiatives came from the presentations executive team, which is able to contribute to the simulation in a very and testing the personal way. Each member of the executive team gave one-on-one simulation. interviews to the SLS / BTS planners, participated in concept presentations and tested the simulation. They also agreed to be videotaped while sharing their insights on various Sun strategies. Participants watch the interviews as those strategies are addressed in the workshop experience. The final step in assuring authenticity was a test-run at an offsite with Sun’s top 50 executives. SLS and partners incorporated the group’s feedback before SLS presented the final model to the CEO and executive leadership team (ELT) for approval. Change Management Leadership Connections was marketed and rolled out with a communications strategy that included: 1. The global announcement of the Leadership Academy from the chief HR officer; 2. A presentation to senior HR staff by the CLO; 12 The “Cascade Kit” is a website with short modules that take a leader’s direct reports through the basics of the simulation. 13 The executive leadership team (ELT) refers to the CEO and his direct reports. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY 3. A program overview email to all HR, vice presidents and directors; 4. Director and vice president invitations from the CEO and executive leadership team to participate in the program; 5. A webinar overview for all HR and worldwide CLOs, led by the management consultant; and, 6. A webinar to train HR on applying insights from assessments, led by an Oliver Wyman consultant. Implementation HR business partners, with input from ELT, select the participants who enroll in one of the 10 workshops being held over an 18-month period. Participants receive their invitations directly from the CEO. Multiple parties share the responsibility for delivering Leadership A N A LY S I S Connections, as follows. Leadership • SLS and HR host the program and deliver one of the modules. Connections is a • SLS handles participation, logistics and evaluation, and manages prime example of the website. multiple parties • BTS custom-built and produced the simulation, and delivers the (SLS, BTS and simulation during the workshop experience, including facilitation. The simulation is adjusted according to feedback from participants and SLS Oliver Wyman) managers. working together to develop and • Oliver Wyman delivers the pre- and post-work programs, the learning labs, and the coaching before, during and after the simulation for all execute a single directors and vice presidents. business program. The program was initially implemented in early 2008 when participants in the first session of Leadership Connections began their “pre-work,” leading up to the main program that took place in April 2008. A second session began pre-work several months later and convened in July 2008 for the workshop experience. A total of 10 sessions will be run to include every director and vice president in the company. Originally the program was planned to take two years to implement, but the early successes and overwhelmingly positive feedback led to an accelerated 18-month implementation. Maintenance Program evolution is based on feedback from session to session, described as follows. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 8
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY The content has been (and continues to be) adjusted after each session in KEY POINT response to participant feedback. For example, after the first session, more time was devoted to smaller group simulation work and less to large plenary The flexibility of sessions. Content would also be modified in the case of a significant shift in company priorities or the rollout of a major new initiative that impacts the program’s business goals. The flexibility of the program and the fact that it shifts design assures according to business goals is one of the keys to its success – it remains that content relevant no matter the state of the company or its current goals. remains relevant Leadership Connections is so authentic, in fact, that some of the new to the company’s strategies it brings to life were finalized in the simulation design sessions. environment and The process of thinking through the simulation and the metrics for success forced the executive team to concretize new strategies, and more clearly current business formulate and articulate pieces of its vision. One of the supporting key goals. metrics was introduced companywide just prior to the April session. Technology Technology is integral to Leadership Connections – and is used before, during and after the simulation as follows. Pre-Work – Developed internally, a Leadership Connections collaborative A N A LY S I S learning site (see Figure 9) offers participants one-stop enrollment, program information, links to hotel and flight reservations, assessments, required A portal, like Sun’s reading downloads. Participants can also access self-paced modules based on collaboration learning objectives, which are linked directly to the company’s LMS system. Program participants can also complete a biography and access Flickr to site, enables select an image of what Sun must do to grow, which they print out and participants to bring to the workshop. easily navigate Importantly, participants use the site to complete their required web-based a complex, self-assessments (360-degree feedback, FIRO-B and Hogan Inventory), and multifaceted select a date and time for their assessment debriefs with an executive coach. program. Custom Simulation – Each team uses a sophisticated Excel-based simulation tool with a Visual Basic interface to run its simulated company. (See Figure 10.) The tool offers a range of business management features, including “what-if” forecasting that estimates the financial impact of a given decision. The simulation tool provides more than 90 business decision scenarios. 14 Source: http://www.flickr.com/about. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Figure 9: Sun Collaboration Site Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. Post-Work – Participants return to the collaborative learning site to download workshop presentations and directories of session participants ´ BEST PRACTICE and other groups. (See Figure 11.) Access to the Leadership Connections Social networking Facebook group page (created by a former participant) is also available. The critical post-work, however, is downloading the Cascade Kit (which includes provides a the leader’s guide, map for sharing Sun’s growth strategy, FAQ cards and link platform for to the Cascade Kit survey). Tracking of Cascade Kit usage began after the continuing July session. conversations, Although the Leadership Connections program initiated the design, the establishing technology was then expanded to the other four major programs (internally developed). The online courses are connected to the company’s LMS. deeper relationships and creating visibility of talent. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 20
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Figure 10: Simulation Screen Shot - Services Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 2
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Figure 11: Post-Workshop Site Page Source: Sun Microsystems, 2009. Analysis of Sun’s Leadership Development Strategy Based on Bersin & Associates research, there are six best practices of high impact leadership development. Sun has demonstrated all six as follows. 15 For more information, High-Impact Leadership Development 2009: Best Practices, Vendor Profiles and Industry Solutions, Bersin & Associates / Kim Lamoureux, November 2008. Available to research members at www.berin.com/library or for purchase at www.bersin.com/hild. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 22
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY . Executive Engagement – The CEO brought focus to leadership development. Executives were key contributors to ensuring that the ´ BEST PRACTICE simulation was realistic, authentic and closely mirrored Sun. SLS provides their 2. Business Strategy Alignment – The primary objective of Leadership leaders with tools Connections is to build business and financial acumen. Following to “cascade” completion of the program, participants must brief their teams on Sun’s growth strategies using the Cascade Kit (described earlier). key messages related to . Defined Leadership Competencies – Leadership Connections was specifically designed to support core leadership competencies, company business strategy values and company culture. and leadership . All Levels of Leadership – When designing the leadership strategy, lessons to their Sun leaders kept in mind the lifecycle of a leader inside the company and organizations. how to build the skills and capabilities as responsibilities become more complex. There is a core program for every level of leadership. . Talent Management Integration – Leadership development is fully integrated with Sun’s overall talent management framework. SLS has a strong relationship with the global talent management team, ensuring alignment of key development priorities – with the end goal of building a ready pipeline of leaders. . Comprehensive Program Design – A complex, business-specific simulation is the center of the five-day offsite Leadership Connections program that incorporates assessments, online self-study, exercises, mentoring, coaching, networking and feedback. Leadership development, in general, at Sun also includes project and expatriate assignments, leaders teaching leaders, e-learning, and a variety of supporting classroom courses. Metrics and Evaluation Several measurements are in place to evaluate the effectiveness of leadership development at Sun. The core methods are Kirkpatrick’s four levels: • Level 1 Reaction – Participant surveys; 16 Donald Kirkpatrick’s four-level Measurement Model has been widely published in many articles and its terminology is well-known to most training professionals. The original model was published in Training and Development Handbook, R. L. Craig, McGraw-Hill, 196. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 2
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY • Level 2 Learning – Discussions / observations; KEY POINT • Level 3 Behavior Change – Documentation of completed tasks, 360- degree feedback improvement and survey results from participants’ Eighty-three managers; and, percent of • Level 4 Business Results – A decrease in regrettable attrition and lower companies that hiring costs, and an increase in two key company metrics (customer evaluate their lifetime value and revenue per user). programs align Also tracked are key results from the annual employee survey. Notably, their program “likelihood to leave Sun” is lower among leadership development content with participants. The “recommend Sun index” (a measure of whether an business strategies employee would recommend Sun to customers, partners and potential hires) is higher. and goals. Lessons Learned Flexibility Is Key Leadership Connections’s flexible nature and its frequency (10 sessions over 18 months) provide many opportunities for continuous improvement. ´ BEST PRACTICE After the first session, it was clear that participants got more value from Leadership the simulation than from the plenary sessions, so schedules were shifted accordingly. More clarity was needed around the role vice presidents played programs should in the process – so SLS, BTS and Oliver Wyman reexamined the learning be continuously objectives, and put tighter definitions and parameters in place for this evaluated and critical vice president “stealth” training. Examining weaker team results offered insights into what program areas could be strengthened and how modified to ensure more support could be given during the simulation. More emphasis was also high degrees of needed to increase participation in the pre-work. All of these adjustments relevancy and were made for the July session. effectiveness. Implementation Requires Coordination In addition, implementation of this very complex program was quite difficult. Requiring every vice president to participate was also an unanticipated problem. Coordinating schedules means that the number of vice presidents 1 For more information, High-Impact Leadership Development 2009: Best Practices, Vendor Profiles and Industry Solutions, Bersin & Associates / Kim Lamoureux, November 2008. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 2
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY able to attend determines the number of Leadership Connections’s participants. As the senior manager of employee training shared, “One lesson learned is be careful ‘how’ you design. You need to design for manufacturability.” Executive Engagement On the other hand, Sun learned the value of executive engagement in the process of leadership development. As the senior manager of employee ´ BEST PRACTICE training noted, Executive “If you’re really going to be successful, you have to have engagement the CEO with you all the way through the design process.” throughout the If the Leadership Connections program had been initiated by the HR design process department, nobody would have paid attention to it, the senior training is paramount manager indicated that there would have been no momentum and it just would have fallen apart. The CEO’s engagement has been critical to the to successful success of the program. execution. Next Steps / Looking Ahead The Leadership Connections program, as well as the newly minted Sun Learning Systems Leadership Academy curriculum, has so far been considered a success. Even today, with sales down and two significant staff reductions in the space KEY POINT of a year, the company remains committed to leadership development. Although it has not increased its funding for leadership development The CEO views programs, it is also not decreasing it. One executive noted the company’s commitment this way, the leadership development “Internal training usually follows the ebb and flow of the programs as an business. When a new CEO comes in, he ramps up training and goes after leadership development because he believes integral part of it adds value. But when the company hits rough times it goes Sun’s current down the tubes. When Jonathan [Schwartz] came in, we business growth were going through one of those down periods. However, he felt without strong leaders we would not be able to strategy. drive the new vision or new strategy. He said he had to have confidence that we have the right leadership talent.” BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 2
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Indeed, it would have been easy for the CEO to shut down a costly and A N A LY S I S complex program like Leadership Connections until the company and the economy emerge from the current turmoil. Instead, the CEO simply Leveraging reiterated that the leadership development programs are part of Sun’s existing successful current business growth strategy. programs and The senior manager of employee training said, repurposing “It’s even more important now than it ever was.” them for other The executive leadership team did make some changes to the content of audiences creates the Leadership Connections simulation to reflect the company’s current continuity of challenges. Otherwise it has remained unchanged. messaging However, there are still leadership development gaps to be filled. For and builds example, the creation of a new training program for high potentials8 was collaboration. “put on the back burner.” As Sun executives explain it, all of their attention was focused on Leadership Connections. The focus in the beginning of the new CEO’s tenure was driving his mission-critical business strategy. SLS diverted all of its energy to making sure the company’s current and near- future leaders were trained. Sun executives also say they would like to drive Leadership Connections lessons (particularly the company’s strategy and execution thereof) deeper into the leadership channel, including managers and their direct reports. As the senior training manager shared, “We’ve started with vice presidents and directors, but I really think the Cascade Kit has more potential utilization than we’re getting right now.” The company is planning meetings to design the next phase of the Leadership Academy. Sun is considering combining Leadership Connections with the New Director Transition program, because there will be a lower volume of new directors. Conclusion Sun Microsystems, like many companies engaged in producing technology, faces a rapidly changing business environment. Its focus on developing 18 At Sun, “high potentials” refer to those individuals at a first-level manager program who have the potential to move to higher levels of management. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 2
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY nimble, skilled leaders permeates the company and is largely a function of the CEO’s commitment to leadership development. Its Leadership Academy and Leadership Connections program have all of the elements of a best-practice leadership development strategy, as it: • Is evangelized by the CEO; • Has a centralized structure; • Has relevant and progressive program content (which is in close step with company’s business goals); • Incorporates state-of-the-art technological deployment; • Offers a variety of opportunities for leaders to learn according to their own styles; • Allows for real-life and real-time problem-solving; and, • Is intimately aligned with the company’s business strategy. The innovation Sun has employed with its products is evident in its leadership development strategy. The CEO and executive leadership team’s strong support, along with an organized and well-executed structure, combine for a leadership talent development strategy that positions Sun for a sustainable and prosperous future. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 2
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY Appendix I: Table of Figures Figure : Sun Microsystems at a Glance 4 Figure 2: Sun Learning Services – Audiences 6 Figure : Sun’s Leadership Framework 8 Figure : Sun Leadership Talent Strategy 9 Figure : Leadership Academy Framework 11 Figure : Developing Leaders at All Levels 12 Figure : Leadership Connections Workshop 14 Figure 8: Simulation Screen Shot – Sales and Channels 16 Figure : Sun Collaboration Site 20 Figure 0: Simulation Screen Shot - Services 21 Figure : Post-Workshop Site Page 22 BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 28
    • ENABLING TALENT MOBILITY About Us Bersin & Associates is the only research and advisory consulting firm focused solely on WhatWorks® research in enterprise learning and talent management. With more than 25 years of experience in enterprise learning, technology and HR business processes, Bersin & Associates provides actionable, research-based services to help learning and HR managers and executives improve operational effectiveness and business impact. Bersin & Associates research members gain access to a comprehensive library of best practices, case studies, benchmarks and in-depth market analyses designed to help executives and practitioners make fast, effective decisions. Member benefits include: in-depth advisory services, access to proprietary webcasts and industry user groups, strategic workshops, and strategic consulting to improve operational effectiveness and business alignment. More than 3,500 organizations in a wide range of industries benefit from Bersin & Associates research and services. Bersin & Associates can be reached at http://www.bersin.com or at (510) 654-8500. About This Research Copyright © 2009 Bersin & Associates. All rights reserved. WhatWorks® and related names such as Rapid e-Learning: WhatWorks® and The High-Impact Learning Organization® are registered trademarks of Bersin & Associates. No materials from this study can be duplicated, copied, republished, or re-used without written permission from Bersin & Associates. The information and forecasts contained in this report reflect the research and studied opinions of Bersin & Associates analysts. BERSIN & ASSOCIATES © MAY 2009 • NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION • LICENSED MATERIAL 2