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"On My Mind" - Fostering Strategy and the Future

Posted By Administration, Friday, August 14, 2015

Dear Colleagues:

I have been doing a bit of reading about taking businesses to the next level, and scaling organizations for the right mix of people, process and technology to grow into the future state of our technology learning world.

I came across some great quotes from C K Prahalad, a visionary and leader in research on building leadership and innovative teams for the challenges of the future.

If your aspirations are not greater than your resources, you’re not an entrepreneur. For large companies to be entrepreneurial, they have to create aspirations greater than their resources. You can call it “strategy as stretch” or “strategic intent.” – C K Prahalad in “strategy+business”

Any company that cannot imagine the future won't be around to enjoy it. – C K Prahalad in Competing for the Future

The critical skill of this century is not what you know; it’s how you access what other people know. – C K Prahalad in Harvard Business Review

I think all three of these philosophies apply to both our work with our colleagues and peers in our companies, as well as in how we produce and bring our training to our customers and partners.  And being immersed in executing second half initiatives, these things are consistently top of my mind.

In growing and scaling our businesses, we are regularly asking our resources to go beyond what they believe they are capable of. We push and pull and create lots of stretch projects, new courses, extended ways of developing, and bigger catalogues of offerings.  In doing so, are we creating the “strategic intent” stretch projects Prahalad references?  Do we have a strategy and, more importantly, do our teams and our customers understand this strategy?  Do we stick to it?  Are they our partners in realizing it? Do we reward for the achievement?

At the same time, we absolutely demand that a looking glass into the future exists in ourselves, across our management team mates, and in our own teams.  I love the reference to “imagine the future.”  We cannot stay with the over used ways of doing things, but must explore what might be different, unique, possibly whimsical in times ahead. Where are we going next?  What has to be accomplished?  What might our company look like in the future? What might the future customer look like? What future company might we be in?  What will challenge our habits?

And finally, we need to look at who is contributing the ideas, the next challenges, the unexpected innovations.  Are we harnessing the brain power of our instructors, our instructional designers, our education coordinators, the folks around us, our customers, even our children?  Or are we ourselves as the business leaders attempting to have all the answers, set all the direction and the game plays, so to speak?  The best ideas I have ever implemented have come from team planning sessions in which I posed a problem or a view to the future, and the team then came up with the solutions, the new offerings, the road map to get us there. Many times they built the solution then and there --and they had fun doing it!

I’d love your thoughts, in concert or disagreement.

Jesse Finn, President, CEdMA

Vice President, Global Education and Learning, Marketo, Inc.

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