Understanding Why We Are Off-Course
Senior Executives and Chief Learning Officers are generally not satisfied with Leadership Development, but most are not sure what to do about it.
We believe our system, delivered through the Appleton Greene network, represents a major breakthrough in producing twice the impact at half the cost, compared to traditional university-based Executive Leadership Development.
It helps in understanding how we can have this impact by first addressing what has gone wrong from an historical perspective:
The analysis of leadership is one of the oldest in antiquity. Over two thousand years ago, the Greeks, Jews, and Chinese began studying and advising about leadership; we still read their accounts today: Spartan leadership, Homer’s tales of the Trojan Wars, Old Testament heroics and misdeeds. In ancient China, Sun-Tzu (Art of War) and Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching) clearly defined their premises for great leadership. Aristotle was the earliest leadership “coach,” having counseled Alexander the Great prior to his incredible conquests. Greek historians Thucydides and Herodotus journeyed across the Mediterranean to document leaders in war and government. Plutarch, a Greek writing in the Roman Era, compared the leadership traits and characteristics of historical characters compared to those of his time. The word “history” comes from the Greek meaning: “deep inquiry into the causes of things.”
The early authorities on leadership identified qualities of character, traits, stratagems, anecdotes, and made observations, just as we do today. At the end of the Middle Ages, Machiavelli advised leaders on how to manipulate people and unscrupulously exercise power, which Shakespeare used as fodder for his dramatic tragedies. Sadly, Machiavelli’s methods are still advocated today. When combined with Darwinian “survival of the fittest” tactics, we end up in power-struggles that make great television drama, but produce horrid performance and results.
Leadership Development has Failed
Why is this important today?
Because the development of leaders, with such deep roots extending back over two millennia, should have progressed much farther and produced much better results than we have today. Even more disconcerting, at a time when we need more and more collabora¬tion, people are becoming more transactional, adversarial, polarized, and isolated – evidence of Leadership Development’s failure. The decline in the last two generations is shocking, as evidenced by less and less confidence in our organizations and institutions, which have become highly distrusted. This decline in trust over the last five decades has been precipitous. To use several examples from the United States:
Big business is distrusted by more than 3/4th of the population. Less than 2 of 5 people trust healthcare, and less than a third trust education. Only a little more than 1 in three trust their churches, all dramatically down on the last forty years. These trends are similar in Europe.
People don’t trust their institutions because they don’t trust its leaders. Business Schools, which pump several million MBAs into the European and North American business community every decade are falling short when it comes to leadership development.
We must acknowledge something is wrong; what we’ve been teaching leaders is simply not hitting the mark. Businesses have a strong motive to shift to a better strategy and more effective learning model.
There must be a better way. It starts with rethinking the Leadership Development paradigm. What was missing? What is possible? What shifts in thinking are required?
The Quest for Collaborative Excellence:
Mr. Lynch began the quest to discover the underlying design of great leadership began more than 50 years ago by majoring in International Relations (Brown University, 1969), seeking a pathway to world peace. He did not find the answers. Ultimately Mr. Lynch would have to create a whole new profession and evolve answers from non-traditional sources and methods over a half century of work to realize this quest.
Collaborative Leadership in the U.S. Navy:
Upon graduation Mr. Lynch served as a U.S. Naval Officer in combat in Vietnam. There he witnessed first-hand the horrors of war, along with good, bad, and misguided leadership. After Vietnam the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) selected Mr. Lynch to serve on a special task force to find better ways to train junior and senior naval officers to be skilled at collaboration, teamwork, and integration between the officer and enlisted corps. This was a significant step in the right direction. These deep learnings exposed Mr. Lynch to some of the brightest thinkers in Human Behavior and Organization develop in the country who were hired by the Office of Naval Research to train the task force. This program was deployed in the fleet with excellent results, while still encountering major resistance from entrenched thinking held by old-line, command-and-control senior officers. This was the right pathway, but a long, long way to go to build a system that would sustain itself against persistent fear, uncertainty, doubt, and distrust.
Academic Studies of Collaboration:
Upon leaving the Navy in 1974, Mr. Lynch enrolled in a Joint Program between Harvard University Schools of Business & Education and MIT Sloan School of Management to earn a degree in Organization Development. The professors delivering the program were the best in the world. It was there Mr. Lynch met Professor Paul Lawrence at Harvard Business School, who became his mentor, dear friend, and later co-author. With his colleague Jay Lorsch, Lawrence had been researching a field that examined how to better integrate highly differentiated organizations into effective holistic system (called “differentiation-integration theory”). While this was considered a somewhat esoteric field at the time, Mr. Lynch began exploring new ways to apply Lawrence’s organizational theory, knowing intuitively that somehow it would be very relevant in the future.
Practical Application of Collaboration
After graduation from Harvard (1975), Mr. Lynch put his academic learnings to practice revitalizing urban neighborhoods, creating a small business finance & venture capital investment company, and developing a technology incubator with 65 companies under its roof. Collaboration and teamwork were the centerpieces for these entrepreneurial successes. To propel the growth of the small tech companies in the incubator, Mr. Lynch pioneered the development of strategic marketing alliances to bolster their revenues. This was the birth of Mr. Lynch’s work evolving the alliance methodology for the next thirty-five years
Launching Strategic Alliances
By the mid 1980’s, with substantial experience in developing business alliances, Mr. Lynch foresaw that many more companies would need to begin working more closely together to handle the accelerations due to computers and globalization. By 1987 Mr. Lynch finished his first book, “Practical Guide to Joint Ventures and Business Alliances” (John Wiley still in print). This was the first book of its sort in the early stage world of strategic alliances. He was convinced that if we could make collaboration work in the business world, where we could easily measure its success, we could “crack the code” for collaboration in a myriad of other areas.
Training & Consulting in Alliances
The audience for the book was larger than originally believed as large corporations emerged seeking to embrace the new alliance architecture. A diverse group of industries, ranging from aerospace to healthcare to high tech to consumer goods, requested consulting and training in establishing strategic alliances. To augment the consulting, Mr. Lynch asked recently retired senior executives who had done numerous joint ventures experience overseas to join the team, not as “consultants” but as “resultants” – aimed at both advising and acting as player-coaches when needed. This was a wise decision – the American Management Association and Canadian Management Centre requested programs coast to coast across North America. Over the next ten years we did over 500 2-3 day training programs for senior executive and emerging new leaders. These course averaged a 4.5-4.7 grade average by the participants. During this time we refined the Action Learning methodology, insisting that participants apply their learning immediately to real-life problems and opportunities.
Refining the Alliance Architecture
Soon the applications in the field and the interaction with course participants led to a second book: “Business Alliances – the Hidden Competitive Weapon (John Wiley, 1993) which outlined a more refined “architecture of collaboration,” as well as over a hundred “best practices.” This book sold all over the world and was translated into five other languages. As a result demand for alliances increased substantially.
Best Processes & Practices
Clients required we adapt the architecture to their corporate standards. AT&T commissioned Mr. Lynch’s team to engage in a more thorough global best practice analysis. General Electric insisted the strategies, principles, and practices of alliances be framed into a rigorous process-driven methodology. IBM, which was undergoing a major transformation led by CEO Lou Gerstner, requested we write a “Best Practices Workbook” that detailed the alliance formation and management process down to the practitioner’s level to be used specifically for IBM’s Software Alliance Strategy. This proved highly impactful and became an integral part of IBM’s turnaround strategy linking services and software.
Doubling & Tripling Collaboration Success
It was not long afterward that we received important feedback from a wide variety of industries that, by using the collaborative architecture and best processes, the success rate of alliances doubled and then tripled. This was a good metric of success. Some companies started adapting the collaborative alliance architecture in making acquisitions with very favorable success. The side benefit of using best processes and practices was a risk-reduction and increased performance and profitability.
Emergence of Collaborative Innovation
Furthermore, as Professor Lawrence had predicted, the alliance architecture enabled the emergence of escalated collaborative innovation – using the differentials in thinking (from different corporate cultures) to generate a long stream of innovations and adaptations – in other words the beginning of real sustainable synergy. This led to a long-term commitment to determine the “architecture of innovation,” which embodied a new set of breakthroughs in adaptive realignment.
Creating a Profession Dedicated to Collaboration
By 1998, there was a enough critical mass of corporate alliance managers enabling the formation of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals ASAP. Mr. Lynch served as founding Chairman to launch the organization. The GE Best Process framework and the IBM Best Practice methodology were merged and upgraded to be the foundational set of principles, processes, practices, and protocols for the alliance profession all over the globe. Today, thousands of alliances, (including those aimed at a solution to Covid-19) can trace their roots to ASAP and the Best Practice Workbook. Now in its fourth generation, the Workbook (now called a Handbook) has been continually upgraded with inputs from hundreds of alliance professionals around the globe. What should be noted is the impact the years of shared learning has had on creating foundational learnings for the Architecture of Collaborative Excellence – far too numerous to be enumerated here; these learnings are embedded in Mr. Lynch’s courses offered through Appleton-Greene.
Collaboration in Supply Chains
By the early 2000s, alliances had started to become an integral part of the global corporate strategy in some leading companies. Procter & Gamble adapted the alliance and innovation strategy we developed for their world-wide supply chain. Within several short years, innovation from the supply chain more than quadrupled and accounted for several billion dollars in new, previously untapped revenues. This reframed supply chain from a cost center to an innovation center and revenue generator.
Critical Importance of Trust
By the 2005, it became obvious that we had a