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Strategic
Mentoring
How to Build the Fabled
Connected Company
& Engage Ever-changing
Markets
2| 2015
The Author
Stéphanie MITRANO, PhD
Since 2001 in London, Stéphanie has been supporting
and consulting for senior ex...
3| 2015
Foreword
You might have thought that mentoring was just
one of those HR trendy tools to attract and retain talents...
4| 2015
•01Mentoring
is Strategy
It all started relatively slowly in the 70s,
bloomed in the 90s, then again at the start
...
5| 2015
•01Mentoring is Strategy
As a reach-out program, socialising new
arrivals in a company’s culture by creating
a per...
6| 2015
Think of these dimensions as building blocks, that will help you connect your
business to the HR perspective, and ...
7| 2015
•02Mentoring
at Work
Understanding that the organisation can
benefit from mentoring is one thing but
actually seei...
8| 2015
•02Mentoring at Work
2.1 • Fostering
Women Parity
With many changes in regulations and
society, companies are waki...
9| 2015
For the mentoring programme, this could be translated as:
Key Dimension
Business Strategy HR Management
Organizati...
10| 2015
2.2 • Rekindling
Innovation 
Intrapreneurship
Avoiding being “uberised”, innovating like
start-ups in large rigid...
11| 2015
And within these two networks of mentors,
the cultural mix will have to be adjusted
with great care. Consider in ...
12| 2015
2.3 • Accelerating
international
growth
With the globalisation of markets, it has
become essential for organisati...
13| 2015
Solutions to international expansion,
always start with cultural embedding.
Granted that there is a huge differen...
14| 2015
Sixth months after launch…
Errors have been made and corrected,
production, sales and supply chain are up
and run...
15| 2015
•03Designing
a Programme
To design and deploy a mentoring
programme that will positively spread
throughout your o...
16| 2015
3.1. Open
the recipe book
The first step is about designing your
programme around a clear strategic
alignment.
As...
17| 2015
These steps are a very fair acid test for your
programme.
If they seem overly ambitious and
disproportionate for ...
18| 2015
3.3. Bake Communities
To transition a strategic plan to an
imbedded informal network culture, time
and nurturing ...
19| 2015
•04The Art
of the Start
To kick-start a cultural change, we usually
aim at involving about 30% of the
organisatio...
20| 2015
Depending on which one is closer to your
company case (and keep in mind that you
may be in a mixed situation), he...
21| 2015
4.2. The Silo Factory
If your corporate world doesn’t look like
a pyramid, the second most encountered
option loo...
22| 2015
4.3. The Techno
Network
The last archetypal case we are usually
helping out achieve cultural change is a
much you...
23| 2015
The “necessary-for-survival”  agility culture
is often observed in companies in the form
of ad-hoc networks, lean...
24| 2015
Contact Us
Merkapt is a consulting and training agency that copilots
the innovation process of startups, incubato...
This white paper is under a creative commons licence 4.0, so we
encourage you to share it as long as you follow a few simp...
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Strategic Mentoring [White Paper] - Merkapt

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You might have thought that mentoring was just
one of those HR trendy tools to attract and retain talents
and to remotivate senior managers in your firm.
Well, think again.

This white paper as been designed to give you an
opportunity to reconsider what you may know, or imagine,
about mentoring...

In it, we will discuss and try to illustrate how corporations
can find a balance between their formal structure source
of efficiency and their informal networks source of agility,
and why mentor / mentee networks are such powerful
cultural game changers.

Author: Stéphanie MITRANO PhD

Publié dans : Business

Strategic Mentoring [White Paper] - Merkapt

  1. 1. Strategic Mentoring How to Build the Fabled Connected Company & Engage Ever-changing Markets
  2. 2. 2| 2015 The Author Stéphanie MITRANO, PhD Since 2001 in London, Stéphanie has been supporting and consulting for senior executives in multinational groups, as well as startups. As a Transition Designer she helps foresee and deploy the strategic transformation of their business and teams. She is a certified Executive Coach and holds one of the rare Management Sciences PhD on “Mentoring Entrepreneurs” in Europe. In 2007, she focused her work on designing and implementing mentoring programmes for large multinationals in banking, energy, IT systems, online retail, strategic consulting, and defense and aerospace. At that time, she also founded the consulting agency Merkapt, with her partner Philippe MÉDA to complement her soft skills approach, with Philippe’s business experience in innovation and business models.
  3. 3. 3| 2015 Foreword You might have thought that mentoring was just one of those HR trendy tools to attract and retain talents and to remotivate senior managers in your firm. Well, think again. This white paper as been designed to give you an opportunity to reconsider what you may know, or imagine, about mentoring. Mentoring is not a new practice. It has spread in large corporations and multinational companies from country to country for the past few decades, and has become one way for HR executives to stimulate cross-generation relationships in order to maintain the company’s knowledge, expertise, culture and competences. Lately, I believe that it has been essentially translated in “How do we deal with millennials ?”. Even more recently, this practice has spread to intrapreneurship (“How do we not get disrupted today, by what was a 3-people startup last week?”) and to gender equality (“How do we help women change our dying business culture?”). Although I am very happy that this practice is spreading for it carries strong values of solidarity and sharing, in most cases it results in a “nice-to-have” communication / PR tool. As far as we are concerned, we believe that if you spend resources to establish a mentoring programme in your company, it would only be fair that you get money back on your investment. To do so, probably requires that you learn something about what mentoring really is. This white paper is about just that. In it, we will discuss and try to illustrate how corporations can find a balance between their formal structure source of efficiency and their informal networks source of agility, and why mentor / mentee networks are such powerful cultural game changers. It all starts on the next page.
  4. 4. 4| 2015 •01Mentoring is Strategy It all started relatively slowly in the 70s, bloomed in the 90s, then again at the start of the new millennium, and appears to be again the new thing to do. Every 15 to 20 years, we are confronted with the need to renew a generation of employees all across a company organisational chart, adapting more or less painfully to a mutated generation identified by a single letter: X, Y, and now Z. Since then, formal mentoring programmes in large firms, have been seen as one of the HR’s best practice tools. Mentoring is an “off-line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking” (David Clutterbuck, 1999). It is a medium to long term voluntary relationship between an experienced person (mentor) and someone less experienced (mentee) who is willing to benefit from it.
  5. 5. 5| 2015 •01Mentoring is Strategy As a reach-out program, socialising new arrivals in a company’s culture by creating a personal bond with a senior employee, is quite an obvious and smart thing to do. And, once started such programmes also lead to nice, prolonged pay-offs, like helping mentees in their career development, or helping the company retain talents (depending on your perspective). Now let’s be clear, this is all nice and interesting, but this is not a key matter. If your company deters high potentials and bleeds talents, it’s probably not because your HR are sub-optimal in fast-tracking high potentials, or that your juniors’ on-boarding programme is not fun enough. Most of the time, it’s because your company is clueless about how the market is evolving. And it shows. Of course, wherever you are on the planet, the local on-going economic crisis is not helping, the digitalisation of your ecosystem (or lack off) leaves you open to aggressive new entrants that do not seem to even speak your language, and even the simple notion of being an employee seems utterly outdated with new recruits aiming at being “intrapreneurs”. The Innovator’s dilemma principle explains that successful companies put too much emphasis on the current market needs that make them a success. They try to reinforce the current “magic recipe” as best as possible, build a culture around it, and eventually get blind sided on new opportunities that will meet their customers’ unstated or future needs. Christensen calls the anticipation of future needs “disruptive innovation”. If your company deters high potentials and bleeds talents {...} it’s because your company is clueless about how the market is evolving. And it shows. Whether you are in B2B or B2C, what you should perceive by now is that what disconnects you from your market is essentially a cultural gap. At this point, you may want to re-read Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma. If you now want to go back at the ontogenic promise of a mentoring programme, you’ll realise its true potential. Because it is built to bridge individuals with different cultures together inside the same business. It is designed to be an active strategic tool helping your company move forward through the ongoing market disruptions. In this white paper, we’ll help you understand how to design a mentoring programme that sustains your business strategy, and then eventually how to cascade it with an HR perspective. Now that we better understand the role and versatility of mentoring programmes, let’s identify the key dimensions that you can leverage to serve your strategy.
  6. 6. 6| 2015 Think of these dimensions as building blocks, that will help you connect your business to the HR perspective, and foster positive change throughout the company: Key Dimension Business Strategy HR Management Organisation Mentee Mentor 1. Horizon Spreading strategic and long term vision throughout the company. Recalibrating priorities in an extended timeframe. Gaining perspective beyond own objectives and towards global succession planning. 2. Speed Accelerating adaptations to the market, solving problems quicker and propagating best practices. Accelerating complex learning often developed through trial and error. Regenerating knowledge and learning new uses, perspectives and technologies. 3. Height Opening of perspectives allowing for more creativity, innovation, and benefits from diversity. Taking a step back to gain a wider perspective on career, problems and business opportunities. Opening to new issues faced by new generation in management, business and industry whilst capitalising on and transferring best practices. 4. Space Fostering knowledge and best practice sourcing, as well as solidarity and more widespread support. Engaging more resources with extended formal, or informal networks. Being recognised in own network and facilitating informal relationships within and outside the company. 5. Resilience Trusting and supporting relationships acting as a safety wnet during troubled times. Limiting dispersion and favouring emotional and psychological stability. Feeling like a valuable contributor to the sustainability of the company. > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > •01Mentoring is Strategy
  7. 7. 7| 2015 •02Mentoring at Work Understanding that the organisation can benefit from mentoring is one thing but actually seeing the connection between the tool and the outcome can be trickier. So let me make it clearer by illustrating three typical strategic turnaround using the five key dimensions of mentoring. The three examples we’re going to present are pretty much standard for any corporation: fostering women parity, rekindling creativity and innovation, or facilitating international growth. Another strategic scenario that we could have addressed is quite the elephant in the room: enabling your digital transformation. We’re not going there. Not because you couldn’t put mentoring to work on this one (quite the contrary), but because there is no typical case in regard to digital transformation. Each business is really in a very specific position, not only because of their internal affinity with digital, but also because of the affinity of their market, the relative ease of monetising digital in their ecosystem, and the pressure of competition. This is really a case by case approach; or it would deserve its own complete white paper. oui ! yes !
  8. 8. 8| 2015 •02Mentoring at Work 2.1 • Fostering Women Parity With many changes in regulations and society, companies are waking up and starting to implement all sorts of initiatives, networks and programmes to support women’s careers. The questions that arise are numerous. Is it just to follow legal obligation or are they really aware of the need and willing to have more women in top executive positions?  Do they want to work on their image as employer or is there a real understanding of the culture changes that may need to happen in their organisation? In various industries, the issue of women is not the same. The history and culture of the company have an impact on women’s careers. Many variables may be considered to understand how women’s careers, equity and diversity are connected to strategy. So before jumping into the “let’s have a women’s network with a mentoring programme” discussion, we need to understand the issue. Is it about women’s assertiveness? Dated management practices? Rigidity of the corporate structure? Sheer lack of women in the sector? If the top management wants to achieve results with women, we’re usually facing three short-term objectives: 1. Get more women at the top to enrich strategic perspectives and competencies, without building the kind of positive career discrimination that will antagonise male managers; 2. Build trust with the actual high number of talented women for these positions in your company or in your industry, that up to now were not used to reaching the top of the career ladder, and still don’t want to play politics; 3. Ease senior employees in adapting from prevalent masculine style of management, to a more balanced one.
  9. 9. 9| 2015 For the mentoring programme, this could be translated as: Key Dimension Business Strategy HR Management Organization Mentee Mentor 1. Horizon Spreading strategic and long term vision throughout the company. Get more women at the top Shadowing sessions: “One Day in the Life of a Senior Exec”. Internal female mentors as role models sharing about company politics. 2. Speed Accelerating adaptations to the market, solving problems quicker and propagating best practices. Workshops and training on assertiveness, business and other “Being Board-Ready” skills. External female mentors as role models sharing about posture and skills. 3. Height Opening of perspectives allowing for more creativity, innovation, and benefits from diversity. Ease senior employees  Increasing visibility with events presenting mentees’ transversal projects, added-value, contribution or realisations. Senior Executives and mentors involving women mentees in cross-business units projects. 4. Space Fostering knowledge and best practice sourcing, as well as solidarity and more widespread support. Build trust Energising mentee community, with monthly networking with VIPs and sharing experience objectives. Male mentors sponsoring women internally. 5. Resilience Trusting and supporting relationships acting as a safety net during troubled times. Peer mentoring, and reference point with coordination team. Engaging mentors (men and women) with strong relational skills. Again, this is only an example. Nonetheless it should help you better understand the difference between a “nice to have HR people stuff” tool, and one that can truly support your strategy. •02Mentoring at Work
  10. 10. 10| 2015 2.2 • Rekindling Innovation Intrapreneurship Avoiding being “uberised”, innovating like start-ups in large rigid structures, helping employees regain creativity, exploring new business models… are the issues we see our clients confronted by everyday. To foster innovation in large corporations, several keys and “difficult to get” ingredients need to be gathered: creativity, market awareness and risk mindset whilst being reassuring to existing customers with a solid efficient structure. Getting this combination of ingredients not only requires being great at what you are doing but also having employees with the capacity to adapt their thinking and mindset in line with society. With the evolution of demographics, people’s needs and technologies, corporations need to embrace hybridisation and be willing to open to new markets, to be aware of unexpected competitors and realise that what was true decades ago about markets is no longer valid. It is the confrontation to the outside -- often unrelated -- world, that can stimulate the ideation process. Innovation emerges out of confrontation with the unexpected. This is why so many creativity techniques are based upon divergence and shifted perspectives. Innovation emerges out of confrontation with the unexpected. To generate this necessary open- mindedness, a solid mentoring programme will usually rely on two key tools linked to the dimensions 3. HEIGHT and 4. SPACE: • A closed internal network for mentees in key strategic activities, with mentors at key positions in different parts of the organisational chart (linking manufacturing and marketing for example); • An open external network with successful entrepreneurs as mentors, preferably not in the same market of the company. •02Mentoring at Work
  11. 11. 11| 2015 And within these two networks of mentors, the cultural mix will have to be adjusted with great care. Consider in that regard, the dimension 2. HORIZON of the programme, and make sure that depending on your industry, market need and current culture, you create an adequate mix of: • Generations: allowing mentors to learn about new generations’ issues, new trends in usage and technologies and mentees to learn about organisational culture and best practices; • Cultures: be it geographical, ethnic or organisational; • Activities: cross-departments, cross- functions, and cross-markets. You need to realise that by nature innovation will appear in unexpected ways, which is the point of building such cultural mixes. Recently, examples of surprising pay-offs that we had while setting up mentoring programmes were: 1. Cross-corporations mentoring with mentees from an IT company developing mobile software for customers in payment systems, that stimulated mentors in the automotive industry to prototype new dashboard apps. 2. Mentoring between the extremities of a medical value chain, that generated direct benefits for the patient by enhancing up-the-chain employees’ understanding of surgeons’ needs and behaviours, and widening down-the-chain employees’ perspectives on potential product externalities while used in an operation room. 3. Mentoring between similar activities in different countries for a retail multinational, that allowed for more inspiration and insights into future businesses in Europe, based on recent Japan trends in mobile social networks. 4. Intrapreneurs from a corporation in defence systems, paired up as mentees with experienced entrepreneurs, developing several new prototypes in three months, down from one year. With mentors and mentees gaining confidence in playing with new ideas, exchanging with less formality and more diversity, you’ll alleviate the constant pressure of managers to justify everything as a sound business decision. And that’s good: if you can fully back up every idea with a business plan, they’re not going to be very disruptive, and you’ve been thinking about them for probably too long. Rapidly, you’ll also see that you are building on 1. SPEED and 5. RESILIENCE at corporate level. This last example on intrapreneurship is by the way, a much more secure approach to the fabled “new businesses incubator” initiative that has popped in many multinationals these last years. Instead of trying to pool new ideas from your employees through internal contests, selecting half-a-dozen a year, and trying to nurture them in a special room with post-its, bean bags and 3D printers… build a mentoring network, it works wonders. {...} if you can fully back up every idea with a business plan, they’re not going to be very disruptive {...} •02Mentoring at Work
  12. 12. 12| 2015 2.3 • Accelerating international growth With the globalisation of markets, it has become essential for organisations to internationalise, to adapt business models to different cultures and to identify opportunities beyond their usual territories, beyond their comfort zone. The key issue for most would-be international businesses is their lack of insights on cultural subtleties. Their approach is pretty much straightforward on a first run: “We proved it worked in Germany, let’s take it to UK, … or Taiwan”. On a second run, they usually over- compensate and try way too hard to project their business model in the new culture: “If we have to sell the product in China, let’s do what Apple is doing… plate it with gold”. Going global calls for a deep understanding of cultures which cannot be learnt in books, or deviated from market studies. Many western corporations that try to get a foot in any consumer market in Asia, are for instance quickly stone-walled by their low context culture in a high-context culture. And if you don’t know what it means, reading Edward T. Hall on the subject will help, but won’t give concrete solutions. Solutions to international expansion, always start with cultural embedding. •02Mentoring at Work Guten tag € Salam aleikoum ؋ Nihao $ Hello
  13. 13. 13| 2015 Solutions to international expansion, always start with cultural embedding. Granted that there is a huge difference between a national company that wants to create a subsidiary abroad, and a sprawling multinational that wants to rebuild a “glocal” culture, however the key is identical. It is direct contact and inter-cultural exchanges that can truly help people develop not only knowledge, but integrated understanding of foreign markets. Other things being equal, a strategic internationalisation will very often be efficiently sparked by a strategic cross- cultural mentoring programme. Obviously here, the key dimension at play is 3. HEIGHT, to be able to build up new perspective from above your usual business logic. But, at play there is also 2. SPEED to make sure that the organisation doesn’t lag in its adaptation to changing realities from geographical zone A to B. In that regard, the HR management cross-cultural mentorship is not highly complex. It is highly specific. Let’s see how it would support key moments of an internationalisation project: One year before launch… A specialised consulting team maps local market drivers and strategic opportunities. HR study the various employment laws, local employees’ expectations and needs. Legal and Finance work on currency hedging, local contracts jurisprudence, etc. Local managers from other (non-competing) companies start to mentor key executives. Eight months before launch… Local offices are scouted and rented. A mix of marketing, and RD people get embedded in the new local market to prototype new offers in one-week hackathons. Newly hired local sales people get training in the corporation business processes. A group of junior local talents is recruited in sales and marketing, and as mentors to every team manager involved in the international project. Three months before launch… Production and communication are at full activity for the new market. First early adopters are targeted and get previews of the product. An internal extension to the customer relationship management system is used to compile local best practices in the new market (how to treat customers’ concerns, negotiating prices in a different culture, how to speak of the brand that is yet to be known, etc). The CRM system is also used as an internal social network connecting sales people to mentors that have been active around the project for months, and that provide guidance and specific recommendations on top of the documented best practices. •02Mentoring at Work
  14. 14. 14| 2015 Sixth months after launch… Errors have been made and corrected, production, sales and supply chain are up and running. Local suppliers have been selected and start to deliver. HR start to scale up local recruitments for next year’s campaign. As an on-boarding process, new local recruits are immediately paired to a senior mentor in their business unit, to adapt to the group’s business culture, and to accelerate their business readiness. But also, headquarter’s managers in supply-chain and purchasing, are mixed with local equivalents from key suppliers in a mentoring programme focused on quality. This story is adapted from one of our customers’ international deployment. Don’t consider it as a best practice per se. It only demonstrates in a specific way how mentoring facilitates, compliments and strengthens a given internationalisation strategy. But mainly, it emphasises how to avoid an “us” versus “them” atmosphere, where the company would play defence, close on itself, and try to format new talents to the exact headquarters’ way of working and thinking. Cross-cultural mentoring brings ways to learn from foreign markets, that will propagate throughout the whole organisation. Mentoring being a medium to long term relationship, encourages exchanges at human level including gaining a deeper understanding of someone’s culture and accelerating the cross cultural learning, far more than a book or a training. A mentor can share knowledge about legal system and its workings, subtleties of language, business codes as well as the subtleties of human interactions in various contexts, behaviours to avoid and all these related to real-life experience. Cross-cultural mentoring brings ways to learn from foreign markets, that will propagate throughout the whole organisation.
  15. 15. 15| 2015 •03Designing a Programme To design and deploy a mentoring programme that will positively spread throughout your organisation, and deliver strategic alignment, you should be guided by three key principles. To make it as simple as possible, consider these principles as a baking recipe:
  16. 16. 16| 2015 3.1. Open the recipe book The first step is about designing your programme around a clear strategic alignment. As we have seen in previous sections, there is no “one-size-fits-all” mentoring programme. So to make it work, you need first to be clear on your strategy and how mentoring can support it. The design of the programme needs to reflect the strategy: so if you want to stimulate innovation internally you may choose a cross-BUs programme or external mentors to support an existing intrapreneurship programme. We have observed many programmes that just paired up mentors and mentees in the organisation without thinking about the reasons why and the coherence with the company strategy. These programmes can have some benefits for employees as mentoring is an interesting and stimulating relationship, but the overall impact for the company is marginal. Also, employees need to be clear on why they engage in a mentoring programme. So giving and sharing meaning is key, as you want to attract motivated participants on a free and voluntary basis. The outcome of mentoring resides on the quality of the relationships, the mentors and mentees’ engagement in a medium to long term relationship, their willingness to benefit from it and invest these benefits back into the organisation. When the mission of the mentoring programme is not clear or the coherence between mentoring and strategy is not well explained, the cake falls apart very quickly. A lack of engagement of the top management will lead to skepticism and mistrust, the programme will be built on low engagement, a reduced pool of mentors, and eventually unwilling mentees. To avoid this systematic pitfall, your “cooking” check-list is as follows. Opening the recipe book to make mentoring work means: • Design the programme’s values and scope with a direct link to the specific strategy that has to be sustained, and formulate a synthetic business plan around the programme with quarterly key objectives on your company’s business; • Identify the operational elements: size of target population (to start with), matching process, duration of programme, support team, training, guidelines and tools, communities management, etc; • Formally engage key people from senior management, Executive Committee (and Human Resources) to sponsor the programme; • Communicate openly at all levels on how mentoring supports the current strategy; • Create an internal platform for reference, FAQs, storytelling and testimonies, and update it relentlessly (at least on a weekly basis). {...} design the programme’s values and scope with a direct link to the specific strategy that has to be sustained {...} •03Designing a Programme
  17. 17. 17| 2015 These steps are a very fair acid test for your programme. If they seem overly ambitious and disproportionate for a mentoring programme, it’s probably that you are not fully committed to have a real impact on your company’s future, or that your top management isn’t. 3.2. Mix People After its preparation, the core part of the programme has to be delivered. In our experience, the success of a mentoring relationship is essentially about the interpersonal fit, not the technical skills, or extent of the past experience of the participants (which you shouldn’t discard for obvious reasons). Whatever your constraints are at this step in terms of budget, geographical situation, or even language barrier if you are a multinational company, creating conditions so people can find a match easily is key. The ways to enable the matching of mentors with mentees are numerous and have to be chosen in line with overall strategy and culture of the organisation. We’ll further explore this step in the next chapter. Let’s say for now, that there are two practical options: • Mentoring pairs can be manually matched by a coordination team according to their profiles and needs, or even automatically matched by an algorithm giving a percentage of fit; • They also can be autonomous in the pairing based on online profiles and networking events. Most programme managers usually start with the former option, if only to explain to their hierarchy that there is a method at work. But actually, when they try both options, they are surprised, that just giving people opportunities to find and discover each other within a very diverse pool of participants works just fine. Whatever the way people find each other, what is important is that they have some level of choice, the possibility to change partner or have several mentors or mentees, that they discover other areas of the business, that they feel comfortable enough to open up and share, that they do not feel pressured by the organisation, so that the relationship can grow at its own pace and in its own way. The aim is to cultivate solid and enjoyable relationships that will create an informal network overlapping and strengthening the organisational structure. The success of a mentoring relationship is essentially about the interpersonal fit, not the technical skills, or extent of the past experience of the participants. •03Designing a Programme
  18. 18. 18| 2015 3.3. Bake Communities To transition a strategic plan to an imbedded informal network culture, time and nurturing are required. Aside from a raised level of satisfaction for participants, there is no quick win for the organisation. Now, of course there’s no reason not to enjoy employee’s satisfaction; many companies have critical struggles on this part alone. Still, if you keep in mind that the real prize is in the medium to long-run, you have to be prepared. The best programmes start with a coordination team who will act as reference point, set the rules, engage participants, implement internal communication, coordinate activities with experts, detect dysfunctions, feedback to the organisation, and energise the whole initiative over time. Mentoring experts can support the programme in the design, train mentors, mentees and coordination teams, share tools, experience and best practices, support mentors in their new posture, stimulate mentees to fully benefit from the relationship and help the team to evaluate and improve the programme. Even with the shortest programmes spanning over 6 to 8 months (dealing with a small-scale spin-off or acquisition for example) it is essential to re-energise relationships once in a while. The best programmes start with a coordination team {...} A good cocktail of tools to support your programme could be: • A mentors’ club, so they can share their best practices, support each other in their new posture, and be reminded of the rules, do’s and dont’s (this is actually critical if mentors are not from your company); • A simple but fully active corporate social platform to share experience, testimonies, questions and tools; • Mentoring events to network, gather communities around specific themes (connected to mentoring or not), to refocus their practice, and learn new tools. As we said, building a community that will transform your culture from within takes time. But it doesn’t require five or ten years. Starting with a pilot programme and then deploying the practice throughout the whole organisation is not only perfectly viable, but usually the best way to build trust and engage your board in a two to three years plan. Reaching a first critical mass may happen in several steps, starting with a few business teams, in one or two business units, and then growing to many more… It can be achieved by geographical zones; or virally with no structural restrictions but with organically increasing willingness of employees. The greater the scale, the less formal the programme will be and the more it will tend to be another normal practice within the organisation. As with all strategic changes in a company, managing to achieve short-term results as fast as possible produces a very important positive spin. So a pilot programme can allow the teams to ease themselves in this change, see its potential, and sustain the deployment of the practice in the long run. It is the start of a mentoring culture. {...} managing to achieve short-term results as fast as possible produces a very important positive spin. •03Designing a Programme
  19. 19. 19| 2015 •04The Art of the Start To kick-start a cultural change, we usually aim at involving about 30% of the organisation in one or two years of time. As we already suggested, to obtain such critical mass, it’s very efficient to start with a pilot programme in order to bring some people in the practice, to see the first results, to adjust the formula if needs be; and then, to more formally ramp up the project. So whatever your strategic goal is, and the way you will formulate your mentoring programme, the art of the start is critical. And, it may seem intimidating, but actually you will pretty much end up with only 3 starting scenarios. We call them “The Ancient Pyramid”, “The Silo Factory”, and “The Techno Network”.
  20. 20. 20| 2015 Depending on which one is closer to your company case (and keep in mind that you may be in a mixed situation), here are the ways to start it all: 4.1. The Ancient Pyramid This scenario is the case of the large patriarchal structure that was a great success ten to fifteen years ago and is now stuck in rigid management and processes: • The organisational chart is vast, extremely rigid, and above a certain level of seniority women are nowhere to be seen; • Political games are paramount, and short-cutting your N+1 is at the same time extremely frowned upon and an open sport; • People know that they are a cog in a huge machine and don’t see, or believe, that they have any impact on anything; • Everyone is talking about innovation and intrapreneurship in meetings, many consultants are hired every year on these topics… and then everyone goes back to business as usual. Such a company is the poster child of the innovator’s dilemma: everything is frozen in the hope of maintaining a long past success. People don’t even think anymore, they just try to reproduce how things were done in the crazy hope that it will work again. What we learned is that at the end of the day, if the mentoring programme is not knowingly bought by the CEO, and the executive committee as a strategic action, you will fail. Of course, some senior managers will get on board no matter what, but quite rapidly the programme will be sabotaged by political game plays. If the CEO and the board green light the programme for what it is, they will be demanding proofs of efficiency, but they will also accept the need for a systemic change. This is OK. This is where you need to start. Launching the programme, will then require to immediately target a transversal side of the pyramid with at least 3 hierarchical levels. Your immediate goal is to mix different levels of the pyramid, as well as various functions, and introduce external perspectives in, as quickly and deeply as possible. Demonstrate that you can open the perspectives, let go of old models without killing the core business, and you win. Even if it is a symbolic victory, without direct consequence on the bottom line of the company (yet). More than in any mentoring programme, the choice of mentors will be critical. And actually, the optional, but also very best practice, would be to open the programme to external mentors. This may seem impossible in such setup, but you’d be surprised on how easy it actually is! •04The art of the Start
  21. 21. 21| 2015 4.2. The Silo Factory If your corporate world doesn’t look like a pyramid, the second most encountered option looks like a collection of business units connected together by matrix charts. Such companies are usually younger than “Pyramids”, but they have seen many CEOs coming and going every 3-5 years several times over. Each management round bringing different strategic intents and visions, and adding them together layer by layer. “Silos” corporations are also typically born, or grown, out of external accumulation of subsidiaries via mergers and acquisitions. When “Pyramids” are dying from a culture that is obsolete and that they try to maintain no matter what, “Silos” are dying by lack of any shared culture. The only culture that exists is within each department or subsidiary. Each one of them tries to achieve as much autonomy as possible within their perimeter; insulating themselves from the changes that periodically strike the whole corporation. Starting a mentoring programme in that case should also start with the CEO or the board’s full sponsorship. But it’s optional. Since the CEO is probably on its way to another company in less than 18 months, launching the programme by on-boarding two high profile VPs reigning on different activities can be much more efficient. In that case, you should try to be opportunistic and leverage a roadblock faced by two such departments lacking internal coherence, preventing their accelerated growth. Good VPs are by nature very political; excellent VPs know when they need to relinquish some power and work together. Find them, talk to them at the same time with very open goals, and explain how you can contribute to rebuilding synergy in the internal value chain by implementing a cross-department mentoring programme. Mentees will gain a wider knowledge of the organisation which can encourage mobility, and mentors will network with their peers in other businesses. The informal communities created will benefit the business by breaking down the silos and encouraging transversal communication. In this scenario, achieve a small success with two such key business units, and you will rapidly spread the programme to the whole company. •04The art of the Start
  22. 22. 22| 2015 4.3. The Techno Network The last archetypal case we are usually helping out achieve cultural change is a much younger and nimble company with solid technological assets that helped them achieve explosive growth within the last 10 years, or so: • The organisational chart is rather flat, mutual history and informal connections within the company are key; • Political games are low, leaders work easily together, but alliances are temporary and essentially based on short-term objectives; • People are well aware of their value and aim at negotiating their skills at every opportunity, within or outside of the company; • Everyone is talking about innovation, but the focus is on inventing technologies, not really bringing transformative products to the market. For such technology-oriented organisations, distance working, mobility, and digital connections of employees are mainstream. The trade-off is that such a techno-sphere lacks human contact, becomes disconnected from its employees, customers and the markets. As for Nokia, their downfall can be a matter of only a few years, still maintaining top technological skills, but without business focus or acumen. In such companies, the inception of a mentoring programme is usually met in a friendly way. It probably has been done many times already, and one of them is surely running in the background. But it is still an “HR thing”. As a soft skill programme, employees won’t value it as a critical priority. If the tools involved won’t be too problematic for the employees, the real problem is that they never had any impact in the past. In that case our experience dictates again to be opportunistic. Since, teams in a “Network” company are highly project oriented, find a struggling project that is failing by a blatant lack of shared goals. Such projects shouldn’t involve long- term technical components, but revolve more around sales or marketing team interactions with RD. The emphasis will be put on human contacts, listening skills and informal communities. In that case again, relying on external mentors -- ideally with strong entrepreneurial experience would bring tremendous results. And, because the communication channels and networks are already present and strong, the practice will be able to flow naturally and spread throughout. •04The art of the Start
  23. 23. 23| 2015 The “necessary-for-survival”  agility culture is often observed in companies in the form of ad-hoc networks, lean methods, entrepreneurship initiatives. When spreading throughout a company, mentoring can integrate the culture and become a powerful agility tool. Indeed it opens up minds to different cultures (national or industrial), markets and functions; encourages knowledge and best practices sharing; and knits informal but strong connections between employees. The propagation of mentoring relationships hence creates informal agile networks -- key to innovation and internationalisation. As an example exposed in this paper, a cross-functional mentoring programme allows for sustainable informal networks to build between various sectors and professions in the company which in turn allow a faster emergence and activation of innovative projects than in an isolated RD cell. The first step towards a mentoring culture is usually a formal mentoring pilot programme which may start in a few number of ways depending on the context: a section of the pyramid, a pilot across several business units, or the re-humanisation of a techno-sphere. Whatever the context there are 3 main rules to follow to ensure a successful launch: strategic alignment, relationship alchemy and viral propagation. Whether you already have a “nice to have” mentoring programme, or are thinking about it, or are being hassled by employees and HR to implement one, then I hope this paper will have enlightened you a little not only on why but also how it could be a powerful tool for your organisation and its strategic transformation. •05A Final Perspective The propagation of mentoring relationships hence creates informal agile networks - key to innovation and internationalisation.
  24. 24. 24| 2015 Contact Us Merkapt is a consulting and training agency that copilots the innovation process of startups, incubators and blue chip companies. The rules seem simple enough: while startups need to focus less on technology, and more on their potential markets; large corporations need to become agile again and learn from early-stage, risk-taking ventures. In the context of disrupted ecosystems and fast-growing markets, we guide you in innovating your business to outsmart competition, and in developing new legs for increased nimbleness. We call that business and transition design. If by any mean you need an answer to any question, we’ll be glad to get in touch. Stéphanie MITRANO smitrano@merkapt.com
  25. 25. This white paper is under a creative commons licence 4.0, so we encourage you to share it as long as you follow a few simple rules: Make sure to give us appropriate credit, and don’t suggest that we endorse you or your use of this document; If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.

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