A retrospective Analysis of the Program within the Context of Rosemary Caffarella’s Interactive Model of Program Planning




НазваниеA retrospective Analysis of the Program within the Context of Rosemary Caffarella’s Interactive Model of Program Planning
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Leadership Academy

A Retrospective Analysis of the Program within the Context of Rosemary Caffarella’s Interactive Model of Program Planning

Carol Anderson


Virginia Commonwealth University

Program Planning: Independent Study

Fall 2008



Table of Contents

Table of Contents 3

A New Vision 5

Table of Contents 6

Getting Started 6

Participant Selection 7

Program Communication 8

Overview of Program 9

Program Results 10

Current Program Status 11

Needs Assessment 13

Our Approach 13

Interview Findings 14

Conclusions Drawn 15

Literature Review 16

Critical Assessment and Lessons Learned 19

Building Program Support 22

Our Approach 22

Initial Communications 22

Needs Assessment 23

Selection Process 23

Involving Leadership in Program Design 26

Involving Participant’s Managers 27

Social Networking 28

Executive Panels 29

Literature Review 29

Critical Assessment and Lessons Learned 33

Program Objectives and Design 35

Our Approach 35

Overall Objectives 36

Challenging Pace 37

Content Modules 38

Social and Networking Events 40

Connecting Activity 41

Literature Review 43

Critical Assessment and Lessons Learned 45

Content Development and Delivery 48

Our Approach 48

Literature Review 52

Critical Assessment and Lessons Learned 58

Program Coordination and Budget 65

Our Approach 65

Literature Review, Critical Assessment and Lessons Learned 69

Program Evaluation 73

Our Approach 73

Literature Review 77

Critical Assessment and Lessons Learned 81

Reflection on Learning 83

Executive Summary

The decision to begin development of a leadership development program was made in early 2005. It was a joint decision by the head of Talent & Learning, the Director of Human Resources, and the (then) President and Chief Operating Officer, now Chief Executive Officer. During the two years prior, there had been much discussion, as part of our newly launched talent management program, that the managers of our line units were savvy entrepreneurs but were unaccustomed to operating in a large organization.

The cyclicality of the mortgage industry had traditionally been handled very simply – by staffing up in good times and staffing down in lean years. Processes and systems were developed and maintained at the local level, and historically there was little intervention at the corporate level so long as the local unit made money.

A New Vision


With a new vision of a strong, unified operating company that could grow to become the largest and most profitable company in the industry, the CEO recognized that the skill levels of the managers were not where they needed to be to enable the company to realize that vision. He identified financial acumen specifically as a skill that needed to be developed. Because of this perceived need to develop these skills, he was supportive of beginning the process of developing a new leadership development program.

Our talent management program was, at that time, two years old. One realization gained through the program was that a number of our managers were, for the most part, high school graduates, with little opportunity to participate in business leadership development programs. There were also a number of managers who were real estate attorneys with academic background in the legal field, not in business. For this reason, we made an early decision to partner with an academic institution, so that we could build an aura of academic study into the program. Additionally, none of the Talent & Learning staff had experience with developing such a large-scale program, and we wanted a partner who could help us avoid common pitfalls.

Getting Started


In May 2005, we provided a Request for Proposal to several Virginia academic institutions. One of the business requirements was to have a physical location away from our business offices, so that participants would be removed from their daily routine.

We selected a local university as our partner in the program development, and began working together in July 2005. One of our business requirements was that we play an active role in the development and delivery of the program, and that the faculty for the program be a blend of university faculty and executive leadership of LandAmerica. We named the program LandAmerica University Leadership Academy.

We began the planning process for participant selection and curriculum development and set the launch date for June 2006. The first communication to the executive leadership was made in July 2005, which informed them of the timeline and requested their support in the participant selection process.

The program was intentionally aimed for middle level management who were considered to be potential future Senior Vice President candidates. This level of management is referred to within the company as the Profit Center Managers (PCMs). This is a level that typically “manages managers”, has significant budgetary responsibilities, and is responsible for multiple branches. These individuals report to Senior Vice Presidents who have responsibility for two or more state operations. One of the early risks we identified was that these Senior Vice Presidents were generally no more skilled in the competencies we hoped to build in the PCMs than were the PCMs. For this reason we developed a two day preview session for the Senior Vice Presidents, and held three sessions across the United States prior to the launch of the Leadership Academy. The first day was an overview of the program, focused on their responsibilities to the participants in reinforcing behaviors. The second day was a preview of the topic “Leading Organizational Change”.

Participant Selection


The selection process for the initial Leadership Academy class was initiated in December 2005, and concluded in February 2006, with notification to those selected and those not selected, communicated through the talent management program. The selection process consisted of a written nomination from their manager and current resume. These were reviewed and assembled and provided to a selection committee comprised of senior leaders from each business area. Criteria consisted of the following elements:

  • Performance evaluation within the last year at target performance

  • Potential to grow into a Senior Vice President position within three to five years

  • At least one year of service with the company and one performance review

  • Manager of people

We also decided to rule out individuals who had recently attended a leadership development course, so that we could give the opportunity to those who had not attended prior courses. We were unsure whether we would receive enough nominations to fill a class, but were pleasantly surprised when we received seventy nomination forms. We selected 20 participants and five alternates. In the selection process, we wanted to ensure diversity in the class participants, in both business experience, as well as in demographics.

Program Communication


Participants received an initial congratulations and welcome letter from the CEO, and we began a monthly mailing between the notification of selection and the start date. We wanted to maintain a strong line of sight for them to begin to build the connection to the program. We also communicated directly with their managers, requesting that they work with the participant to ensure that there was coverage during their absence, so that participants could fully remain in the program.

The program launched in June 2006 with 15 of the original invitees, and all five alternates. Several selectees had timing conflicts for one or two days, but we stood firm on requiring full participation, and asked them to decline if not available for the entire program. We asked that each participant complete a statement of commitment, indicating their understanding that their active participation in all elements of the program was a contingency for acceptance into the program. We also requested that they share their expectations of what they hoped to gain as a result of the program. This information was considered in the program design.

Overview of Program


The program was designed to last 10 months, with one onsite week at the start of the 10 months, and a second week onsite at the end of the 10 months. The time between onsite sessions consisted of monthly virtual meetings in small groups. The first onsite week concluded with a presentation to the executive leadership team by each of four small groups. Throughout the first week, they worked through a case study, applying content from each day’s session to resolve the problem stated in the case study. The second onsite week concluded with a presentation on a business problem that each group had been assigned. The executives caught on in the second week and delivered far more probing questions about their solutions, which created a great learning opportunity for both the participants and the executives.

The onsite weeks consisted of several social networking opportunities, with welcome dinners on arrival Sunday evening, a formal dinner on Thursday, and a cocktail party on Tuesday evening. Executives attended the dinners, and about 100 headquarters staff members attended the cocktail party. Given that most of the participants had never visited the Richmond headquarters, this was the first opportunity for them to meet people that they worked with over the phone. Participants were invited to tour the Richmond LandAmerica campus with the Director of Facilities who had led the design of the new building. This was an opportunity for the participants to gain insight into the business decisions surrounding work facilities.

Participants also had the opportunity to work directly with executives who co-facilitated content sessions or who participated in panel discussions. Unfortunately our CEO was out of the country during the launch week; however, we did capture a message to the participants on video and shared that on the first day. He did actively participate in the other sessions, including participating in the executive panel for the Friday presentations.

Program Results


In all, we graduated two participant groups of 20 each, our 2006 inaugural class in March 2007 and our 2007 class in November 2007. Participants of the Academy were sought after for special projects, gained tremendous visibility, and of the 40 participants, 50% were promoted or received additional responsibilities within six months of completion.

When the first group that started the program in June 2006 returned for their second week in March 2007, they had spent the months between sessions in virtual team development. On Sunday afternoon of the second onsite week, each team was asked to provide a presentation to an executive panel on their experience and learning from the virtual teamwork. Each of the four groups, without prompting, reported hard dollar savings or revenue generation that they directly attributed to their participation in the Academy. We did not request that they include this in their debrief session, although it would have been a good idea. We did follow up with each class three months after completing the program, and requested feedback on the application of learning content. That process collected documented savings or revenues that equaled three times the cost of the program.

Current Program Status1


In March 2008, we made the painful decision to put the Academy on “pause”. The executive leadership team did not make this decision lightly, but concern was growing over the economic forecast, and the apparent trouble looming in the mortgage markets. The initial plan was to “pause” until November, when it was expected that the economy would turn around. As the year progressed and it became obvious that the turnaround would not happen until 2009 or 2010, the Academy was “paused’ indefinitely. While I argued vehemently for continuing the Academy given the reasonably low cost and the incredible payback, our business model requires significant reductions in staffing during the down cycles, and our managers were more and more strapped for resources and virtually unable to break free for a week at a time.

It is heartening to realize that the Academy tops the list of priorities for the organization as the economy heals and grows. Participants are still actively being engaged in project teams, and continue to survive the reductions in force. A year after the second class graduated, only four of the forty have been job-eliminated, and one left to start her own business. She indicated to the CEO in her exit interview that she would have been gone two years earlier had it not been for the Academy, but her heart was in being an entrepreneur, and that was not where the company was heading. Anecdotally, we hear graduates describing the Academy as the hook that keeps them in the company; they understand that the company recognizes them as an “up and comer”.

In this paper, I will present the process for development, delivery and evaluation of this Leadership Academy program, through the lens of Caffarella’s interactive model of program planning. (Caffarella, 2002). As part of this critical analysis, I will review our program and available literature regarding the various elements of the model including needs assessment, building program support, objectives and design, content development, program coordination and implementation, delivery, budget and finance, and conclude with program evaluation. Within each element, I will analyze our process against current thinking by human resource development scholars as well as within popular journals.

This is a timely project, as when the Academy receives the green light to begin classes, we will need to revamp the program. The changes in our organization because of the economic crisis are profound, and the earlier content is outdated. This critical review of the program will allow me to bring a research-based perspective to the new program, which can only add strength.
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