The Natural Next Step: Cross-Enterprise Leadership™

As Peter F. Drucker believes, “decision-making is the specific executive task.” And in today’s   complex, ever-evolving business environment, any single decision invariably reverberates throughout the entire organization. What if a company moves its manufacturing operations offshore to cut costs, or if it acquires a competitor to gain market share, or if it decides to pursue a new line of products and services? What are the risks, the rewards and the other consequences? How will the decision affect a company’s relationship with its unions, governments and other stakeholders? What impact will it have on employees and corporate culture? How will customers react? How will operations change? What are the ramifications for marketing and sales, for human resources and for finance?

Several articles in this edition of the Ivey Business Journal vividly illustrate that executive decision-makers need a complete understanding of the entire organization. As Sydney Finkelstein and Eric Jackson explain in their article, “smart organizations” develop an “early warning system” by paying close attention not only to their own financial indicators, but also by remaining “carefully attuned to other key organizational factors as well.” In explaining why “feedback is vital even at the top”, Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones show how “climate, culture and leadership”, “levels of trust” and “team dynamics” should all come into play when evaluating a board of director’s performance. And in his article called “Deciding how to decide”, Harvard’s Michael Roberto underscores how leaders must consider the context, the people, how they communicate, and how best to control the decision-making process to arrive at high quality decisions that can be implemented in a timely way.

At Ivey, we believe that effective business executives today have the capacity to predict, analyze, strategize and act upon issues that span the entire enterprise. This is why we have embarked on a comprehensive redesign of our programs, research and organization to focus on Cross-Enterprise Leadership™.

Cross-Enterprise Leadership™ goes beyond conventional cross-functional approaches, such as matrix management, that are typically specific to a project, problem or crisis. It compels decision-makers to address issues from the perspective of the entire enterprise. Corporate leaders have told us their organizations need this calibre of decision-making. They need individuals who not only operate well within their functional arena, but who also operate as cross-enterprise leaders at every level of the business. Ivey has accepted the challenge of developing these leaders. Over the coming months, we will turn the traditional business curriculum inside out to develop a learning experience that generates graduates who think, act and lead on a cross-enterprise basis. Each one of our programs will be redesigned to focus on Cross-Enterprise Leadership™, starting with our new MBA program. Our research will examine key cross-enterprise issues, such as building sustainable value, driving growth through entrepreneurship and innovation, and leading cross-enterprise. And our organization will change too – placing Cross-Enterprise Leadership™ at the centre of our management and operations.

More than ever, the business world requires leaders who can tackle issues that span the entire enterprise. And business education and research must answer this vital need. That’s why I believe that Cross-Enterprise Leadership™ is the natural next step for Ivey. That’s why I know it is a big step forward for business education at large.