Three major themes span the programme, helping to weave the discussion and debate into a coherent fabric on which participants can chart their next moves. Please click on the + signs below in order to expand the content around each programme theme:
Making sense of turbulent times
The "straight-line" projections on which so many plans are still based have never looked so inadequate. The reverberations of the worst financial crisis since 1929 continue to re-shape economies around the world; when Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs coined the "BRICs" in 2003 he seemed radical, but by 2011 China's GDP grew to twice the size he predicted to become the world's second largest economy; few saw the political change being played out in the "Arab Spring" or the fact that the rising middle class in Asia, Russia and South America would bring about such rapid and profound social and political change; to name just some of the seismic shifts we can't ignore.
How will you lead your company in this new environment?
Rather than assuming "more of the same" as our baselines, we need new ways of thinking. A powerful starting point on the path to success in the face of this increased volatility and pace of change is to look at the fundamental drivers that underlie it. We propose three: increasingly rapid economic and technological change; globalisation, which has increased inter-dependency and sharpened the divide between those that are world-class competitors and those that are not: an increasingly complex and inter-linked global financial system that has rendered prevailing ideas about risk largely obsolete.
Because the same skills and techniques are unlikely to be effective in dealing with these forces of change, the Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme is designed to help you make sense of these turbulent times and develop strategies that recognise the new realities.
Our responses also need to be evaluated against what is probably corporate life's most fundamental question of all: 'Who are we running the company for?' Perhaps more than ever, we need to revisit what we mean by the "sustainability" of our organisations against the demands of a broader spectrum of stakeholders and ask how we can create value for all of them. Stakeholders include employees, customers, investors, suppliers, environmental and climate change groups, NGOs and other authorities. The Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme will examine how you can best manage this broader range of constituents to bolster the sustainability of your organisation in the face of turbulence.
Taking the lead through innovation
The relentless march of globalisation and liberalisation in world markets means increasing competition in more and more industries. Only the fittest will survive.
This environment demands leadership - it's not enough to manage an agenda set by competitors. But this kind of leadership is not only measured by market share. The value of incumbency is declining in the face of innovative new players. Today's industry leaders need to re-shape the competitive game and set rules.
Companies may not be able to do this alone. Instead they may need to catalyse the growth of an "ecosystem" of partners around them, bound together by self-interest, complementary investment and shared learning. That means becoming a lead firm in a network rather than building a vertically integrated behemoth.
Being a global competitor, meanwhile, no longer just means projecting your home-country formula abroad. Global leaders must now understand specific local needs and know how to successfully confront local opponents. The global competitive playing field may be getting "flatter", but local cultures and differences are, in anything, being reinforced as people look to re-establish their identities and sense of belonging.
The rapid pace of change is also increasing technological and market obsolescence. In order to grab new opportunities for business development, innovation is key.
The Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme will get you started on thinking about how new scientific developments, for example biotechnology, additive manufacturing, green energy or synthetic life, and new developments in IT might transform your company.
But innovation is about more than new technology. So we will also consider how a company can (and should) innovate throughout the value chain, be it in distribution, operations or customer service. And assess how you ready your company to be an innovator. Innovation starts inside - it begins with the collective mindset, people ready to tackle and take on new opportunities. Opportunities do not just exist, they need to be created. They are events which you can see before others, or that you make sense of better than others. Opportunities to innovate also come from analysing business failures - as said by Konesuke Matshushita, 'failure is the tuition for learning the business'.
Cambridge is the perfect location to think about these issues.
Few places are better placed to help your re-assess the role of innovation in your organisation than Cambridge, with its Nobel Prize academics and its successes in electronics and pharmaceuticals.
- What kind of innovation should I be targeting?
- How do we sustain a creative environment that encourages innovation?
- How do we manage change?
- Who are our partners?
These issues (and others) will be debated with successful local executives.
Leadership into action
Leadership should be viewed not only at the industry level, but also internally. To bring about change, it is essential to set clear objectives and mobilise commitment around them. It is therefore essential to encourage entrepreneurship and considered risk taking. Vested interests and inertia need to be challenged, new options created and experiments launched.
There are many styles of leadership - some leaders are charismatic, others not; some foster decentralisation, others are more in control. There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a great leader, as was Jack Welch or Nelson Mandela. When deciding how to change the organisation you lead, you first have to consider the practical steps to take to change yourself.
The Cambridge Advanced Leadership Programme will encourage you to examine your personal management style. Is it still suited to the organisation and the changing environment? How might it need to change?
Among our discussions during the programme about what it takes to move from strategy to action, two key aspects will be given particular attention. Firstly, employee motivation. In the current economic climate employees need motivating if they are to fulfil the company's objectives. In the current economic climate, the stock options that were so often used to motivate and reward organisation members have lost their value. We need to find innovative ways of providing people with acceptable alternative incentives that will benefit both them and the company. How will you reward your high achievers? Can you provide them with sufficient motivation to sustain them through this challenging period? And for the next 10 years of their careers? What non-monetary incentives can your company offer? Do your people have voice, opportunities for personal and professional development, or the chance to participate in community-related initiatives?
Secondly, reporting systems. Most information and reporting systems were established in a different business period. They identified, measured and controlled objectives that often became obsolete. Globalisation and strategic change require new information and reporting tools.
Over the three-week period these themes are explored through a number of core sessions that address specific issues related to them. These sessions include - but will not always be limited to:
- Ecosystem advantage
- India - innovation and technology
- Managing the unforeseen
- Managing the media
- The global economic environment
- Management of people
- International finance
- Globalisation of service businesses
- China, including business and government relations
- Global supply chain
- Fostering and guiding innovation
- Global leadership
- Innovation - the Cambridge way
- Corporate governance
- Leading growth through M&A
- Network and power dynamics
- High performance teams
- Leadership, hierarchies and teams
- A day and a half of group and individual coaching
Occasional additional sessions may be added.