BTS Strategic Execution Blog

BTS & The Fifth Level: Strategic Executive Development-Beyond Enterprise Boundaries

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | Category :

By Dan Parisi

About two years ago, I was involved in conceptualizing one of BTS’s newest solutions: a cross-company, industry value chain (or industry ecosystem) simulation. This newly launched BTS solution takes place between three leading brands in the Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods industries.

The purpose of this experience is to allow executives from separate enterprises—but in the same industry value chain—to learn together and explore the “white space” between their companies in pursuit of improved collaboration, innovation and value creation. Takeaways include a mix of industry acumen, financial/business acumen and collaboration skills.

In this new area of cross-company executive development, a neutral working environment is critical. I will leave it to your imagination why executives who may be in client/vendor relationships would be guarded about admitting to each other that they don’t have all the answers. The immersive, dynamic nature of the BTS custom simulation experience—in this case, modeling the retail value chain from raw materials to the consumer—brings participants’ guard down, allowing learning, relationships and collaboration to develop freely and safely.

The section below contains a revealing conversation (which is a mix of verbatim and paraphrasing) between two of the three Chief Learning Officers involved in this project. It introduced me to the 5th Level of leadership development, and the broader potential of this BTS innovation.

  • CLO #1: “I was thinking about where this new BTS solution falls in our internal leadership development offerings. In our organization, we currently have four levels of leadership development from senior executives to first-level managers. But the nature of this solution is so different that I’m having trouble fitting it into any of our current development levels.”
  • CLO#2: “Funny you say that.. Because of its cross-company nature, unique industry perspective, and relationship-building environment, this solution doesn’t easily fit into any of our current four levels of leadership development either.”
  • CLO#1: “I think we actually need to create a fifth level of leadership development. This would mix executives across companies and challenge even our most senior executives. Let’s say there are senior executives with a track record of success at one of our respective companies. Through this type of ecosystem program, we could give those senior executives new challenges and insights they simply could NOT get within the four walls of the enterprise, no matter how great the internal leadership development.”
  • CLO#2: “Agreed. This really breaks down traditional enterprise boundaries. Let’s discuss this further after the launch of the project.”

This fly-on-the-wall moment stuck with me. And, at some point, I should stop being surprised by the fact that our clients, sometimes in casual conversation, can articulate BTS value better than we can.

The “5th Level” opens up a significant new market opportunity for BTS. Currently, the only place for somewhat structured, cross-company executive development is a business school executive program. By definition, these multi-day experiences are open enrollment and off-the-shelf, and the company mix in the room is accidental – whoever signed up, from whatever company/industry. There is no real strategic intent, or any line-of-sight to business impact between the executives and companies represented in the class.

In contrast, BTS can create a custom solution for a cluster of key industry players who are seeking improved cross-company collaboration, innovation and execution.

Imagine for a second: Where can this go? The short answer: To ANY industry value chain. Imagine a major Oil and Gas company anchoring an “Energy Ecosystem Simulation Experience” and inviting key industry partners. Imagine a major telecom anchoring a “3-Screen Communication Ecosystem Experience” (smart phone, PC, TV) across several industry partners. Imagine a key tech player leading a cross-company “Cloud Ecosystem Simulation Experience.” This is classic BTS strategic alignment, but with a twist – strategic alignment across multiple inter-dependent companies.

Imagine the proliferation of “multi-client clusters” across multiple industries, and what this would mean in terms of increasing client value and BTS growth prospects.

About the Author: Dan Parisi is an Executive Vice President at BTS.

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