The final day of the i4cp 2017 Conference included a panel about cultural innovation for collaboration and three keynote speakers. Following are some takeaways:

“This is HR’s version of ‘Journey to Mars’”

NASA’s Director of the Workforce Engagement Division, Elizabeth Kolmstetter, PhD, began the morning with the challenge of being bold in our work or staying home. By the end of her presentation, she had us thinking to the stars and beyond. She highlighted three areas where she is inspiring her team to break from the gravity of tradition, including the areas of virtual working, talent acquisition, and open collaboration. Most impressive was her leadership in not accepting incremental improvement and pushing the agency to dream big, be a force-multiplier, and breakdown barriers. 

“This is the biggest transformation in the history of the company—if we don’t get it right, we might not be around.”

Cassie Carl-Rohm, Global Leader of  Accelerated GE Executive Development extended the theme of big change by describing GE’s reinvention, including its next-generation leadership program, XLP. The program’s aim is to accelerate leadership development and produce two times the global leaders in half the normal time with a 50/50 gender balance. The program elements were creatively designed to emulate as well as produce role models of the new culture of speed and simplicity, enabling participants to, in Cassie’s words, “become the leader you would want to follow.”

“We’re more alike than you would think!”

Comparing notes on three very different organizations on the innovation culture and collaboration journey, the expected differences yet surprising similarities emerged.  Facilitated by i4cp’s Cheri Murphy, panel members Christi Karandikar, CLO, Warner Bros.; Kari Naimon, Senior Manager, Amazon; and Tameika Pope, CHRO of the Federal Reserve Board shared stories and insights on their work to bring higher levels of innovation and collaboration. A wide-range of ideas and initiatives were offered as each entity is navigating levels of change and unknowns, drawing upon rich traditions, breaking down organizational boundaries, and sparking new height of innovation. From dog-walking as a collaborative opportunity, to people-training for economists, to using the creative experiences on the production floor in talent development, the panelists proved HR leaders can produce higher levels of collaboration through a constant stream of their own innovation.

“Plug your leaky talent bucket”

As the final speaker, I asked the audience to spend more time and focus on understanding the lessons of talent failure. While we constantly fill our talent and organization buckets with success practices and programs, in many cases it spills out through the holes of leadership deficiencies and derailments. Drawing upon 15 years of internal tracking and 40 years of external derailment research, five main causes were described as well as offering five specific approaches to plug these talent gaps. Our own faulty talent management practices were identified as one of these derailment contributors. By understanding your own organization’s tendencies and shortcomings, lessons learned can be better integrated into selection, assignment management, feedback-rich development and stronger support in high risk transitions.  

“If you were looking for the best thinking and a comprehensive view of the ‘state of the art’, you now have it.”

One other point I made at the beginning of my presentation spoke to the overall content and talent of this year’s i4cp conference—both onstage and in the room. If you wanted to get a full immersion on what the best are thinking and doing in the field, this was the place to be. In fact, the quality, forward–thinking and contemporary leadership was as high as any event I’ve have seen in recent years. As many speakers remarked, the changes today are great and the ‘unknowns’ ahead are plentiful, but i4cp assembled a strong and confident community of innovators and collaborators willing and able to think bold and reach for the stars and beyond.