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Management Development That Transforms Organizations

By Robert M. Burnside

As organizations globalize and seek to achieve a successful digital transformation, they look to their managers to lead the way. A recent McKinsey article on digital reinvention, however, noted that customers and products are digitizing faster than organizations themselves, which often remain behind with outdated thinking. How exactly do we help our managers enable transformation instead of impede it?

The only way forward is to develop a common conversation across the organization that invites managers to co-create a path forward that can actually work. By enabling a shared understanding of where the organization is headed and then asking managers to co-determine the realistic steps to achieve it, the organization can transform. But how do we get our EXTREMELY BUSY managers across multiple time zones to take time to co-create the future NOW?

In 2015 when I was the CLO at Ketchum, we needed to get 2000 client-facing people to adopt a new strategy and digital communications process that would immediately benefit clients. We used Nomadic Learning’s process: cohort-based, totally-online, learning and discussion only when one has a moment, to successfully achieve this in six months.

What I — and 2000 Ketchum employees — learned from that process was simple: when managers are clear on what is needed and are given the opportunity to have an honest conversation about the steps to achieve it, the organization moves forward together, in sync, at the same time.

In short — it is possible to enable managers to transform the organization if you give them the means to mutually understand the goals and co-create the path forward in a method that respects their extremely busy lives. Let’s give them the opportunity!

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