Think Big, Act Small

Growth begins with self-awareness.

Ampersand’s Roger Mader, in his research for the forthcoming book, The Da Vinci Co, sought to identify the characteristics that enable versatile survivor enterprises to navigate change – to repeatedly overcome market threats and economic turmoil – the rare companies that not only survive but thrive. Surprising lessons arise from the opposite ends of the economic scale.

Jack Russell Terrier Snarling --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Large companies too often lose their entrepreneurial vigor. Small companies underestimate the challenges to achieve scale. They have much to learn from each other.

This workshop reveals the findings, derived from experts such as Tim McKnight, Innovation Executive for Cigna Health Insurance, and Jeff Semenchuk, former Chief Innovation Officer for Pfizer Consumer, Citi, and Hyatt Hotels, as well as co-author Dave Hersh, founder CEO of Silicon Valley’s Jive Software, and an array of fellow entrepreneurs, advisors such as Larry Keeley of Doblin Group, and investors, such as Corporate Venture executive Heidi Mason of Bell Mason Group.

The program begins by asking two simple questions – what are you trying to accomplish, and what are you prepared to do?

Ampersand will interview the top executives to divine answers to these questions and test them with hard questions to be proven by tangible examples. We work with executives to develop a specific business challenge to tackle in the workshop. Meanwhile, the participants bring the results of a prework assignment to diagnose the growth capacity of the organization – what are the aspirations, risk tolerances, demonstrated successes, failures, limitations and acknowledged weaknesses. They will assemble case studies to reveal the underlying proclivities of the corporate decision making cycle. Who has authority? Who has visibility? Who has decision rights? What data do they use? What sources do they trust? What metrics do they track? How fast, how soon, and how well do they make decisions?

Bring a challenge. Build a plan.


Next, the team tackles the executive challenge. The challenge may be presented by a senior leader, in-person, by video or by proxy. Teams deconstruct the key elements. Lessons are correlated to the elements, and solutions assembled from a series of tools and activities. Teams compete or collaborate to apply the the tools against their diagnoses to develop a growth plan. Ampersand’s instructors coach and critique; teams iterate to present their draft plans for review. Teams have new skills and new confidence. Leaders have new solutions from new insights. Yet invariable we find that despite these important accomplishments, you will discover that

…the greatest lessons always come full circle back to self awareness.

You will marvel when the benefit of hindsight is matched by the gift of foresight. Teams and sponsoring executives see how a different kind of plan, based on a thoughtful assessment of true capabilities, can produce very different results.