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There you will find updated information about the Center for Creative Leadership's initiative to make leadership development affordable and accessible to people everywhere.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Transforming Society and Self

CCL’s Jeffrey Yip recently interviewed Sam Voorhies of World Vision for an upcoming issue of the Leadership in Action journal. Sam spoke about the role leadership development has to play in accomplishing the organization's mission.

“World Vision globally is growing very rapidly. We’ve doubled in the last five years, and we project this growth to double again. Human talent and developing leadership capacity is our biggest challenge. We can raise all the money we want, but if we don’t have capable people to design programs and deliver them locally, it won’t happen. Our strategy is to identify and develop local leaders and not rely on expatriates.

Most of my work has been at the national and global level in the area of program development, leadership, and evaluation. The cross cutting theme of my work is in developing leadership capacities across all levels – indigenous leadership, national and global leadership. This work has been a tremendous education for me enriching me in ways I never thought possible. If we are going to facilitate transformational development in the communities of need, we have to be transformed ourselves. I would say our biggest challenge is growing our own leaders.”

Voorhies' words echo the wisdom of the greatest change agents of the 20th Century:
  • Mandela: “One of the most difficult things is not to change society, but to change yourself.”
  • Gandhi: "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves."
To address the great problems of our time we should take note that change must take place within people to enable the greater transformation we seek in the world.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Give One, Get One or Got One, Give One?

You may have heard about a recent initiative entitled One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). The mission of this non-profit association is to develop a low-cost laptop that could revolutionize how we educate the world’s children. Our friends at Continuum, a Boston-based design firm, helped create the actual laptop. Recent articles in Newsweek have shared a marketing strategy called, “Give One, Get One”. The idea is that when someone purchases a $188 laptop for a child in a developing country living in a community that represents the base of the economic pyramid, you are also able to purchase another machine for someone in your own household or community for the same $188 price. What a wonderful idea!

The Center for Creative Leadership is considering a similar idea. CCL has the privilege of training some 20,000 leaders each year. These individuals are given the incredible opportunity to step out of their work roles for as much as a week to focus on developing their own leadership potential. This is quite an investment on behalf of their organizations. We believe that many of these individuals and possibly the organizations they work for would be willing to ‘pay it forward’. Some call it moving from success to significance, others talk about giving something back. Would you be willing to sponsor a leader in a developing country? Would you be willing to provide resources, tools, or workshops for our global neighbors to help them on their leadership journey? Perhaps there will be a CCL-sponsored opportunity in the near future for those in the leadership development community who Got One, to Give One!

Monday, September 24, 2007


By Don Prince

CCL entered into an alliance with an Egyptian foundation, the Future Generation Foundation (FGF) in 2006. In this arrangement, the partner promotes CCL’s leadership development programs in their region, and CCL delivers the programs.

FGF is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 by a number of leaders in Egypt’s private sector. The Chairman of the Board is Mr. Gamal Mubarak, son of Mohamed Mubarak, President of Egypt. FGF’s mission is to transform the business culture of Egypt and to reorient it to international norms of excellence and achievement. FGF targets human resources at all levels, from recent university graduates to executives. A key area of emphasis is in developing the youth of the country. One of their phrases is “Working for a Better Tomorrow”. Their primary emphasis is on Egypt, but they have the goal to reach the entire Middle East region.

CCL conducted its first 5-day Women’s Leadership Program in January 2007. Attended by 22 women executives from the public and private sector from multiple countries, it was a great success. CCL and FGF are planning 2 additional programs in 2007. These are: WLP (November) and LDP (December).

As an outgrowth of the first program, the Egyptian government is discussing with CCL the possibility of further leadership training of government leaders.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Developing NGO Leaders with TISS

By Philomena Rego

India has an estimated 1.2 million NGOs. They work with the poor, exploited, and disadvantaged populations. Many NGOs serve their constituents through developing their empowerment and skills. Their own employees on the other hand do not get much by way of training. On our immersion last year we met with over 50 NGOs who expressed the need for leadership development. NGOs work in difficult environments and cant't pay people as much as corporations. The lack of development and support reduces their ability to acquire and retain talent and impedes their impact in advancing their mission. This is a critical issue as many NGOs seek to deal with complex challenges and scale up operations to serve more people.

To address the needs of NGOs in India, CCL in collaboration with TISS -- a highly-regarded university in Mumbai focused on social work, HR and other human services professions -- has begun to create a leadership development program for senior NGO executives. TISS is doing impressive work to scale up education and skills development (more on TISS in a future post). We found that we saw a common need to build NGO capacity through leadership development.

To inform program design work, in August 2007, we did a three day demonstration program led by Karen Dyer with 25 participants from various NGOs from Mumbai. The program was based on the Center's assessment, challenge and support model. We used assessment instruments, experiential activities, and rounded it up with a deep debrief. Karen also facilitated a half-day leadership program for some 20 school principals.

The NGO program will couple hard and soft skills development and be offered by TISS. As second stage will be to offer the program through other deemed universities in India (and beyond), and develop parallel offerings for government administrators and SMEs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Leadership Beyond Boundaries - Colloquium at CCL on Work in East Africa

Dou Fall and Steadman Harrison hosted an update on the progress of the Global Voice of Leadership initiative on Thursday, September 20 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The colloquium focused on the work of a CCL team in Kenya and Uganda, East Africa during the month of July, 2007. Pictures were used as prompts for story-telling from the team’s recent experiences working with NGOs in Nakuru and Nairobi, Kenya as well as Jinja and Kampala, Uganda.

The initial work in 2006 included immersions aimed at providing an anthropological perspective as well as a rapid prototyping opportunity to test initial ideas. The team (including Patricia O’Connor, David Day, Dou Fall, and Steadman Harrison) returned in 2007 for additional concept testing with partners including CHF International, ERMIS Africa, and Global Outreach International.

Colloquium attendees included visitors from Boston University and the Archives of the History of American Psychology. The group of 24 attendees generated several innovative ideas (such as a hand-held tool for generating 360 degree feedback for leadership workshops in regions with low or no bandwidth). One attendee pointed out that CCL’s Leadership Beyond Boundaries effort in regions like East Africa, India, and Central and Eastern Europe represents a major differentiator between the work of CCL as a non-profit and many of the other consulting firms and business schools that have added leadership development to their portfolios in recent years.

We need your help to make leadership development accessible and affordable to our friends and global neighbors working in communities that represent the base of the economic pyramid. If you know of potential funding opportunities, organizations that you believe would be good partners in this effort, or you have an idea of how you can be a part of this work, please let us know! Start now by posting a comment here on this blog…

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Leadership Development is Not Wasted on the Young

B. Muthuraman, Managing Director of Tata Steel and mastermind behind the Corus acquisition, states in an interview that soft skills constitute a major portion of a manager’s success, but are not well developed even in the best b-schools. “80 percent of good management,” he says, “is based on what I call the behavioral traits of a person – it is the mindset and attitudinal make up of a person that makes him or her a successful executive and leader.”

In India, soft skills get short shrift at educational institutions that reward students for performance on exams. As we reported earlier, the economic boom in the country needs professionals who can hit the ground running, yet companies have to spend significant time – sometimes yearlong immersions – prepping new hires for the job.

What can be done to remedy this? Muthuraman suggests that binding reflection to action may be a key to helping young people mature more quickly as leaders: “…much of the development of a human being happens through self-reflection and follow-up action. Students and executives should spend organized time with themselves – reflect on their thinking process, aspirations, strengths… ‘Reflection and action’ is the mantra for personal and professional growth.”

The Center is developing a series of offerings to accelerate and support experiential leadership development for students and young professionals. These offerings for young people have relevance not only in India, but also in many emerging economies where the talent gap is a key concern.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Good to “Go Do”

GOOD Magazine asked IDEO (a firm we worked with on the CCL GVOL initiative) to create a way to capture the ideas in a special issue on design solutions. IDEO, as always, did a creative and masterful job, overlaying a sidewalk cafĂ© photograph with handwritten notes about everything in the picture – from the potted plant (“help reduce greenhouse emissions”) to the billboards (“doubled as climbing walls?”). What most caught my eye, however, was IDEO’s re-representation of the magazine name “GOOD” as “Go Do.”

For the longest time I’ve pondered the seemingly opposing ideas of being prudent vs. proactive. This is sharply contrasted in Stephen Covey’s admonition to “measure twice and cut once” and Tom Peters’ hyperactive “ready, fire! aim.”

I’ve become more partial to Peters of late, understanding that “learning by doing” is a way to be both prudent and proactive. On our GVOL project we shelved traditional market research (surveys and such) for on the ground immersions that helped us understand the lives of the people we hoped to serve. We postponed business planning (a traditional precursor to action) to push forward with rapid prototyping and experimentation as a way of understanding what works rather than presupposing what the strategy needed to be.

It seems to me the change agents in our world are not busy drafting elaborate business plans, but are out there actively trying things, learning, and adapting their approach. IDEO’s mantra of “fail often to succeed sooner” echoes the words of one of the world's greatest social innovators, Gandhi, who promoted action and acknowledged the failure that comes with it: “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching” and “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sometimes in April is Something to Remember

I watched Sometimes in April, a movie that focuses on the desperate and tragic story of a Hutu-Tutsi family in Rwanda when the ethnic genocide broke out in April, 1994. What the film indicates is that terrible events don’t emerge overnight. In this case, the seeds were sown by colonialists who divided to conquer, as well as by the subsequent waves of ethnic discrimination. So too, as the genocide unfolded, cascading to the murder of nearly a million people, the world stood aside, because of the lack of strategic interest present in Rwanda, and because stopping the violence once it was unleashed required more than political statements or diplomatic pressure.

From a leadership perspective, the situation was enormously complex and difficult. No one was able to initiate, orchestrate, or stop the killings. The family in the film is well educated, affluent, and has connections to the military supporting the killings, as well as the movement that is enacting the violence. But all this proves insufficient to ensure their safety.

The film suggests that the time to act is before the time of war and killings start. We can act to increase social equity, to reduce poverty, stimulate economic growth, to improve education, to build civil society, and establish international networks that can act swiftly when needed. And who must do this? We all must.

The film opens with an eloquent quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Action and inaction are both choices that are ours to make.

Leadership Essentials for Youth

A group of youth leaders / camp counselors came together on August 18th for the first local YMCA-sponsored prototype of a CCL Leadership Essentials for Youth Workshop. We are calling this the Lead Now! workshop design with the intention of creating one-day, two-day, and three-day curriculum for youth leaders with a detailed facilitators guide and tool kit. Joel Wright, Paula Morrow, Matt Hall, Dou Fall, Tim Burress, and Steadman Harrison facilitated the design that included an Introduction to CCL, Leadership 101, D-A-C, S-B-I, MBTI, Experiential Exercises, and Visual Explorer. The youth that attended each shared how this workshop design impacted their understanding and practice of leadership. These youth represented late high school and early college age students. They were all current employees of the YMCA and selected on the basis of their positive leadership over the 2007 summer term of work. This was an exciting step in the exploration of youth leadership models at CCL. We appreciate the YMCA's partnership and funding.

When the participants first arrived (teenagers from 15-19 years in age), some of us were feeling a bit skeptical about what we would be able to accomplish with them. They seemed too laid back, reserved, a little too ‘cool’… these were a few of our first impressions. However, the CCL modules that we used are so engaging that soon we all found the room full of energy. The quiet and reserved kids came out of the shells and took on the leadership roles time and time again. The young women in the room really surprised us the most. One of these women was one of the younger counselors in the group and she stepped up to articulate the needs and initiated a plan of action on behalf of the group several times during the course of the day. The mix of experiential exercises and a ‘lessons from life’ type overview connected with these youth. They rated their appreciation for S-B-I and the MBTI overviews close to the top of their list along with Visual Explorer and the experiential exercises.

The workshop close really caught some of us off guard. We were remembering our first impressions and trying to figure out where these kids came from as they went around the room receiving their certificates and sharing their ‘take-aways’ from the day. Each of them described important lessons of impact like how they had a new vision of leadership, or how they were prepared to give feedback to the kids that came to their camp, or how they understood personality preferences for the first time, or how they planned to step up to opportunities in the future. We were really blown away by how far they came in the course of 1 day… it reminded us of the same sort of impact we experienced with the 1-day workshop in Jinja, Uganda.

The goal of this GVOL youth work is to create a workshop design and toolkit that we can put in the hands of youth leaders around the world. Our prototype from this initial design will be going to South Africa later in September and on to Singapore in October.

Eastern Africa Leadership Exploration

In November and December of 2006, CCL sent a team of five to Uganda and Kenya to conduct interviews, prototype new leadership development models and test preliminary concepts that were aligned with the design considerations guiding an initiative entitled, Global Voice of Leadership (GVOL). A second visit took place in July 2007. Our initial work was to translate the Center for Creative Leadership's content and knowledge base into meaningful tools for leaders working in a diverse African context. The team used story-based interviews to hear from local NGOs, CBOs, and FBOs how work was accomplished at its best and what the challenges organizations, teams, and individuals faced day-to-day. Our team developed what we now call a CCL "Leadership Essentials" workshop.

Workshops were hosted in Jinja (Uganda), Nakuru (Kenya), and Nairobi (Kenya) with groups of 20 to 40 participants attending each workshop. Experiential exercises were tailored to the language and context of East Africa. Hand-score assessments were chosen to provide participants with information about their personality styles when approaching change. CCL feedback models (Situation-Behavior-Impact) and leadership models (Direction-Alignment-Commitment) as well as our approach to development (Assessment-Challenge-Support) were utilized and tested at each of these workshops. The workshop was led by one trainer with no power-point screen shows, limited handouts, and no assessment pre-work. While CCL typically delivers a high-tech, five-day program, the CCL team delivered a high-touch, one-day workshop with similar impact.

One participant shared the following comment at the conclusion of our first workshop in Uganda.

“This training is very important and you need to understand why we say to you, you need to come back. You hear us saying come back soon and it is for a reason. Where you come from this leadership teaching may result in better management, better business practices. But here, here in Uganda this teaching has the ability to save lives. This region, these governments have been at war for many years. If they heard today what you were teaching us I believe we could end many of these conflicts. We could see an end to these wars.”

In July 2007, CCL returned to East Africa to train a group of 50 NGO partners for CHF International and to assist ERMIS Africa with the launch of the Eastern Africa Leadership Forum. CCL returned to East Africa at the request of these NGOs who provided a small amount of seed money to partially offset the expenses of the CCL team.

We invited LEAP Africa to co-train these workshops with us and they accepted the invitation. We want to explore a formal affiliated partnership with LEAP through which they may continue delivering CCL content and materials for a royalty fee. In July, we worked with a LEAP trainer and with very limited ramp-up in order to test the “Grassroots trainer kit” providing the appropriate materials and instructions for the delivery and facilitation of CCL workshop modules. This concept test was tested with the safety net of having CCL there to support the work. Based on our 2007 experience in East Africa we believe that it will be possible to create a training of trainers workshop through which we will can increase the training capacity of multiple organizations and extend the reach of our program content and materials.

The Eastern Africa Leadership Forum is a non-profit entity stemming from a synergistic joint initiative between CCL and Environmental Research, Mapping and Information Systems in Africa [ERMIS Africa] that focuses on promoting leadership and leadership development within the region. It draws from shared principles and experiences by the two organizations on the need to create partnerships, networks, and communication mechanisms towards development of leadership skills and resources. The forum envisions individuals and organizations within the Eastern Africa region applying creative leadership tools to solve complex leadership challenges towards sustained development within the region. The mission of the Forum is to advance the understanding, practice and development of good leadership practice for the benefit of society within the Eastern Africa region. This concept came about as a direct result of requests from the participants of the leadership workshop hosted in Nakuru, Kenya in 2006. The 2006 work included participants from diverse backgrounds representing NGOs (n=10), government offices (n=4), educational organizations (n=5), and businesses (n=6).

We are actively seeking opportunities to extend these initial field tests to further illustrate how the Center for Creative Leadership can create and sustain viable models and tools to bring affordable and accessible leadership development and organizational capacity to base of the pyramid economies. Please comment on this blog entry if you have creative ideas or suggestions for how we can extend this work further.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Of Scale and Substance

I recently attended the BOP 2007 conference at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The “base of the pyramid” thinking has been quite instrumental in helping the Center understand that it was possible to serve low-income markets sustainably. The idea centers on the need to create business models that are affordable and accessible.

At the conference I had a chance to hear how the field had evolved since the seminal works by C.K. Prahalad and Stuart Hart had been published. Two big ideas were expounded. The first was the need to consider environmental impacts of enterprise. The poor, said Prahalad, are often the ones most impacted by pollution. Job creation at the expense of environmental damage could generate short-term income but ultimately further marginalize the poor. The second was the idea that many corporations that had adopted BOP principles had largely focused simply on creating affordability and access for existing offerings, but had not pushed the envelope of innovation. A new wave, which Stu Hart labeled as BOP 2.0, was focused on co-creation with people at the BOP. This offered the potential of greater impact and scaleabily, as well as the potential for disruptive innovation.

I came away from the conference impressed by how much the field had progressed. The academics, corporations, NGOs, and governmental organizations present were all working together – leading together – to chart a new course that I believe in time will lift billions out of poverty … by enabling corporations to think more innovatively about markets they’ve failed to serve, and by unleashing the potential of social entrepreneurs to birth socially-motivated businesses that can scale up to span the world.

Laos Leadership Forum

Post by Patricia O'Connor

CCL Singapore was contacted by SNV, a Swedish-based capacity building NGO, with a request to participate in a one-day leadership forum involving senior public sector ministry officials in Vientiane, Laos. SNV asked the Singapore Embassy for assistance in linking up CCL and SNV. SNV had heard that Singapore “had” a Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) that promotes similar principles of leadership development and explored the possibility of involving CCL in a project. The Singapore Embassy contacted Roger Byrne who passed the request to Chris Ernst, who proceeded by conducting the initial intake. He identified a link between SNV’s request and GVOL objectives, bringing Patricia O’Connor into the conversation. Patricia saw this request as an opportunity to test a mini-version of “CCL Essentials” while exploring the potential of targeting senior government officials initially as participants and later as sponsors for future leadership development support focused on less privileged populations in their country. Patricia & Chris proceeded as a team to qualify the request, work with the SNV contact, design the modules, and facilitate the delivery. This opportunity required a very fast turn-around -- initial contact to Roger was 5 May 2007 and delivery took place 11 June 2007.

See the Laos Leadership Forum Newsletter for Details: