Leadership and Consulting

Challenge Factory helps organizations, leaders, and individuals through times of massive change.

Case Studies

Post-Secondary Leadership Support
The Problem:

Campus leadership is not for the faint of heart. The distributed decision-making process gets complicated when goals conflict and consensus is difficult to come by, resources are limited, and every decision can have far-reaching consequences.

The ways in which leaders are identified and assigned to roles can add to the challenge. Sometimes faculty members step into department chair roles reluctantly and with minimal leadership training or experience. Deans who are responsible for multi-million dollar budgets, facilities, and the future of tens of thousands of students can see leadership roles (often called administration) as a temporary side-step in their career. Viewed as ‘necessary evils’, for some leaders these administrative terms mean they have to put their own research and other career ambitions on hold.

The Solution:

Challenge Factory’s multi-pronged systems approach prioritizes the development of new leadership skills and mindsets. Working with the Office of the Provost and several campus deans, Challenge Factory implemented a suite of strategic planning, leadership development, and executive coaching services that focused on the future of the faculty while emphasizing the expansion of each leader’s capacity, capabilities, and perspectives about both leadership roles and their own careers.

Direct Impact:
  • Stronger business and political acumen for new deans, associate deans, and department chairs
  • Enhanced sense of team and trust among faculty colleagues
  • Greater alignment of strategic planning activities and future-focused personal desires and institutional vision
  • Resolution of long-standing challenges through assessment tools, creative communications, and consensus building
Strategy and Workforce Analytics Modeling

The Challenge: This multinational client knew a significant portion of its workforce was eligible to retire and was concerned about leadership succession. They didn’t know which programs would be most effective to address the coming changes, which populations within their workforce were most at risk, and where the largest business impact could be predicted over time.

The Result: A workforce strategy and data model that provides the business case and strategic interventions needed to maximize impact and ROI. The client now knows exactly when recruitment, leadership development, succession planning, and other processes will not meet specific workforce needs—and which new programs will provide the needed support, acceleration, and focus.

Rethinking the Employee Lifecycle

The Challenge: A significant number of employees at the organization were retiring and then returning back on contract. This practice, which was originally seen as a temporary stop-gap for knowledge loss, had become the norm at great expense to the organization and its culture.

The Results: New career paths specifically for employees interested in transitioning into a Legacy Career at the organization were implemented. These paths took into account pension realities, business priorities, and the most strategic use of experienced resources. In addition, a new alumni program was introduced for retirees embarking on new initiatives that align with the core work of the organization. The alumni and organization provide mutual support to each other—generating new opportunities for innovation, community connection, and local impact.

Creating a Culture of Knowledge Translation

The Challenge: Investments in knowledge transfer had been unsuccessful at this global manufacturer. Employees were still walking out the door with critical knowledge and relationships. Worried about impending retirements, the HR leader of this organization realized that both cultural issues and practical challenges were thwarting the well-intentioned attempts by experienced staff to convey what they know to newer employees.

The Results: Knowledge transfer assumes that once information has been exchanged, the transfer is complete—and the information shared is useful. Challenge Factory takes a different approach. Instead of assuming that all information is helpful and needed, we use innovative tools to create knowledge maps that outline employees’ tacit and implicit knowledge that enables them to do their jobs well. And an important part of this mapping is the understanding that in today’s changing world of work, knowledge often needs to be shared across a variety of roles when a key employee is leaving.

For this client, we used knowledge maps to identify what knowledge would cause the greatest organizational risk if it were lost, and who needs to know that information. A new on-the-job curriculum was developed and three-person triadic relationships were formed. Each triad had a new graduate, an emerging leader, and an employee within five years of retiring. It transformed onboarding, leadership development, and succession planning by normalizing the sharing of knowledge and embedding it into both everyday work and the employee lifecycle.

Leadership Labs

The Challenge: Several companies approached us about the challenges they’re facing that are being caused by key elements of the Future of Work. They needed options that would allow them to engage whole teams at different levels within the organization. And they needed to do so in a way that engaged employees, provided educational benefits, and garnered critical internal corporate feedback.

The Result: Leadership Labs that provide cross-functional, on-the-job experiential programs. These Labs integrate key market trends with daily practice, reflection, and the development of leadership acumen. They are set up to address the top trends impacting the 2020 workforce, with a capacity to customize by industry and integrate existing company curricula.

Leadership Labs currently available:
▪ Preparing to Lead the Workforce of 2020
▪ Leveraging Intergenerational Dynamics for Competitive Advantage
▪ The Gig Economy and New Employee Lifecycle
▪ Career Management and Employee Retention
▪ Customized topics to suit your workforce priorities

Intergenerational Mentoring Programs

The Challenge: The workforce was shifting quickly at this large organization and existing mentoring programs were being pushed to the limit. Mentor fatigue was on the rise at the same time that the number of mentees continued to increase. Meanwhile, new staff weren’t meeting minimum standards and knowledge gaps were threatening productivity, engagement, and workplace culture.

The Result: Integrated onboarding, leadership development, and succession planning. This organization now has a sustainable, scalable program backed by a tailored curriculum that supports new hires, new leaders, and near-retirees. Vibrant triads (groups of three) with members from each cohort provide on-the-job support, training, and knowledge transfer—leading to increased innovation, stronger performance, and improved engagement.

Offboarding and Outplacement Alternatives

The Challenge: Hundreds of employees aged 50+ come to Challenge Factory for help transitioning to new jobs and careers. Many outplacement programs don’t address the identity, market trends, and timing realities of employees who leave their employers after decades of service. The traditional “resume and role” approach to job searches often proves ineffective, and online training modules struggle to support the identity changes that this age cohort experience.

The Result: Challenge Factory’s tailored programs focus on identifying the “SweetSpot” criteria that transitioning employees want to find in their next career. Opportunities in entrepreneurship, full- and part-time roles, Board work, and volunteer work are all explored. According to one of our insurance sector clients, “Challenge Factory’s programs are the first time someone we’ve had to let go has written me a thank you note for the services provided to them after they left.”