The brainstorming session may beget large quantities of ideas, but the executive workshop can help create something far more valuable: focused energy to explore new growth platforms from corporate leaders.
Mastering the Art of Executive Engagement (Bloomberg Businessweek Article)//Jeneanne Rae, CEO of Motiv
MASTERING THE ART OFEXECUTIVE ENGAGEMENTHow to conduct an executive workshop that produces game plans for innovation Viewpoint November 12, 2010By Jeneanne RaeThe brainstorming session may beget large What is the right formula to attract a person whoquantities of ideas, but its more sophisticated must prioritize every minute of every day, doesntcousin, the executive workshop, can help create suffer fools, and whose bonus is likely to dependsomething far more valuable: focused energy to on quarterly results, yet who is also tasked withexplore new growth platforms from corporate figuring out the future? Produce the right level ofleaders. In the scheme of things, cool ideas are a executive workshop structured to drive keydime a dozen, but generating the confidence to commitments and decisions. Here are somebrave new ground, especially in risk-adverse pointers:global corporations, is something far rarer. Use time wisely. Set realistic expectations forSeveral paradoxes exist in corporate innovation involvement. A half day to one full day is all youenvironments today. Due to the resources will likely get. If you cant get this much time,required, new growth-platform investment carve out a specific role in kickoff and closingdecisions are typically made at the highest levels activities so participants can get a grasp of thein large global business units, yet the executives content discussed and process utilized.who must make those decisions have little time tospend on exploring the sources of innovation Make passion palpable. Get the right people inbeyond the conventional R&D lab, where the room at the forefront of the challenge. Think amomentum-setting action rarely takes place. select number of credible key stakeholders,Managing customer complexity with new, value- archetypical customers, subject-matter experts,added offerings has become the latest best and other provocateurs, not just companypractice for industry leaders, yet few are employees. Discourage politically basedstructured to take on the challenge. Even if the invitations and folks with potentially derailingwillingness for radical innovation exists, proven agendas.processes for cracking the code on organicgrowth challenges and driving differentiation Efficiently convey new relevant information.often dont. Result? Spinelessness, fear, Spend time building context. Through no fault ofexcuses, skepticism, flat-lining, or worse. their own, executives often live in bubbles. Fortunately, theyre usually aware that they lackNo doubt these factors contribute to the slow perspective and appreciate being enlightenedpace of game-changing innovation we see at about new factors they should consider inpresent. But I would also argue that the problem decision-making. It has been my experience thatisnt that executives today are too overwhelmed driving a far-reaching, compelling, and efficientlyto contribute and support innovation and change. delivered context for a challenge is seen as aThe problem is we need new ways to drive their wonderful gift. This type of information is criticalengagement. yet often out of reach for busy executives.www.motivstrategies.com Reprinted with Permission
One suggestion would be to articulate adjacent Strive to contradict the dominant logic of yourmarket dynamics and sources of nontraditional industry. Innovation happens when companiescompetition. For example, point out why the do something the rest of the pack hasnt.performance expectations in consumer markets, Countless examples are available. Forsay, by Amazon (AMZN), have now set the bar inspiration, look at an array of pan-industryfor all e-commerce transactions. Or why Zipcars players who saw the opportunity to do thingsunderstanding of your preferences is emblematic differently and never stopped to look back,of the type of customer intimacy expected from including ING Bank (ING), Flor Carpets, Homeevery provider given the type of technology Bistro, Flexjet, and Salesforce.com (CRM). Howavailable to drive such customer relationship could your company break the mold similarly?management systems today. How might these or There is still no hotter topic in business todaysimilar everyday performance expectations than driving organic growth and innovation. Moreinfluence the must-haves in any new offering? often than not, these matters require the attention of senior executives who encounter numerousFacilitate integrative thinking. Design engaging impediments in finding, vetting, and committing toexercises that mimic everyday unresolved the big ideas of tomorrow. If you are havingopportunities. In my role as executive education difficulty getting the type of attention your biginstructor for Columbia Universitys Graduate ideas deserve, consider engaging your executiveBusiness School, I recently led an experience team in a compelling new way that imparts spot-design exercise involving multiple layers of on vision. Your action-packed, hands-on eventcustomers (financial buyer, systems operator, will not fail as a call to action for those taskedend users, etc.) for a set of health-care with leading your organization into the future.executives. The example I used was based on acompany that sold intelligent building solutions.After 90 minutes of deconstructing anothercompanys problem, a galvanizing momentoccurred among the participants that showed an Jeneanne Rae is the President and CEO ofobvious path to tackling their own multilayered Motiv, a strategy consulting firm focused oncustomer-experience opportunity. design-driven innovation and opportunity landscaping for S&P 500 firms. She has workedThe issues raised via seeing another company in the fields of innovation and design for overthats succeeded at its very own challenge drovea passionate strategic discussion about market twenty years, consulting and educating dozens ofresearch practices, resource prioritization, and leading companies in a multitude of industries.organizational development. For this crowd,enlightenment in how to enable innovation is email@example.com more important than any idea that could 703.778.1051have been generated through the process. Theexercises success at transcending their mindsetlies in allowing leaders to think in an integrativeway outside their own box instead of the industry-focused, siloed manner normally found in theaverage corporate environment.www.motivstrategies.com Reprinted with Permission