EFMD Excellence in Practice Awards 2020

The 2020 Excellence in Practice Awards (EiP) initiative received over 40 submissions, an all-time record, demonstrating great diversity and showcasing extremely interesting projects.

Do not be too surprised when reading the cases; they will take you back at least one year ago into totally different pre-covid-19 times. They will probably be a base for reflection on our future practices, as in the scenario-planning exercise planned during EFMD’s Executive Development Conference at the end of October, where we will also co-create a trends summary with all delegates based on these cases and the field experiences of the practitioners present.

In preparation for that exchange, this article highlights five clusters of observations. Please join the debate and share your opinions.

Purpose and impact

Consistent with the award’s long-standing criteria, all cases, as much as possible, indicate impact beyond the individual participants. Interestingly, some include societal impact of the projects in their purpose as well as measurements, be they the nature of the project (a relocation of a factory, for example) or intentionally added to enrich the learning experience.

A growing number of projects focus on cultural change, intended to create a favourable context such as innovation, entrepreneurialism and so on. These may be complemented by indicators and measurements (engagement surveys of both employees and external stakeholders, innovation readiness assessments).

On a personal level, there are still developments towards a pre-defined set of competencies and profiles, but in a number of cases, there is an open growth ambition: “tapping into each leader’s innate potential”, as one case labels it.

Digital and participative

While last year the word “digital” was all over the projects, this is less the case this time. Sure there are digital transformation projects, data and analytic techniques, digital support tools and so on mentioned. But it seems that digital has become an embedded part of an organisation’s strategy, processes and learning toolkit and is no longer that exceptional.

The spread of digital tools is also leading to an interesting dynamic; delegation and alignment lie at our fingertips. Horizontal alignment within transversal functions in distributed organisations, has been growing throughout the years. But some cases show how this is also affecting leadership, hierarchical relationships, and command and control cultures. Local empowerment and accountability, “unbossing” and distance competencies assessment, are just some of the labels and practices mentioned.

It will be interesting to look at the impact of the current corona crisis on these developments.

Reach and scaling

The populations in reach of the cases submitted vary from existing small teams to thousands of people. But interestingly, quite a number of them go all-in, aiming for the full target population (“100% coverage of target population”, “participation rate
of 90% of leaders”, and “80% of the total number”).

To do so, interesting scaling mechanisms are used, where technology is only one of the solutions. Some work with franchised delivery, train-the-trainer formats and mentoring. But also multiple parallel tracks of different cohorts or layers in the organisation, which interact at certain stages, are used in a number of designs.

Projects and communities

One of the most striking aspects in the 2020 batch of cases is the use of projects in “start-up innovative projects”, “game changer projects”, “passion projects”, “on-the-job action learning”, “experiential facilitated immersion”, “work-based strategic challenge”, “solve live business problem” and the like. It seems this has become a key approach to guaranteeing learning transfer and implementation, as well as providing an immediate return for the development initiative.

Likewise, (learning) communities and alumni networks are being created and actively mobilised to support the further roll-out of initiatives.

Quantitative and qualitative measures

Some cases show interesting quantitative measures of impact, though less surprising than in previous years. Quite a number base their impact claim on qualitative measures, in most cases self-reported by participants (Net Promotor Score being a persistent trend).

The latter, of course, has a less solid claim in the evaluation of impact than those who can link quantitative indicators to the organisational and business claims made in the initial commitment.


2020 Winners

Category: Organisational Development

Unilever Brasil Industrial & Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC)
“Responsible factory closing and relocation at a global sustainability leader”

daa & Trinity College Dublin
“A journey from a to what can be – The future factory programme”

Avolon & INSEAD
“Rising to the challenges of rapid growth”

Category: Talent Development

Pertamina & INSEAD & Deloitte & Tjitra and Associates Consulting & Bob Aubrey Associates
“Catalyser: Massive leadership acceleration in an Indonesian state-owned company”

Elevate RAP Working Group & AGSM @ UNSW Business School
“Emerging Indigenous executive leaders programme”

Intouch Group & Alliance Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester
“Gold leaders programme – Developing the innovative strategic capabilities of Intouch Group’s leadership population”

Russian Railways Infrastructure Business Unit & Corporate University of Russian Railways
“Maintaining and developing company brand values through generations dialogue”

Category: Executive Development

Standard Bank & Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) & Henley Business School
“Authentic African leadership requires ‘more than a programme’”

Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation & Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) & University 2035
“Digital mindset: Transforming the way Russia is governed”

LafargeHolcim & The Ivey Academy
“Strategic alignment at LafargeHolcim: Building a performance culture”

Category: Professional Development

ArcelorMittal & EF Education First
“Unlocking human potential through English language learning”

Coromandel International Limited & Murugappa Group – Management Development Centre
“VidhyaOnline: A digital learning platform for enhancing salesforce capabilities at Coromandel”

Cognizant & Cognizant Academy
“Techno masters blended learning programme”

Special Category: Ecosystem Development

Association of Entrepreneurship Development “SKOLKOVO Community” & Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO
“Developing entrepreneurship in Russia”

Enterprise Ireland & ESMT Berlin & IMS Marketing
“Focusing the response of Irish business to Brexit – Enter the Eurozone programme”

Vladimir Potanin Foundation & Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO
“Museum – The power of place”

See more articles from Vol.14 Issue 03 – ’20.

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