2013 Trailblazer – Division 1

GOLD: Kim Dorer, Director, Spectrum Health University, Spectrum Health

Physician leaders, like all health care system leaders, are most effective when they achieve results through others. But it was difficult for employees in the medical field — most of whom were taught to review every test result with their own eyes — to depend on others. Spectrum Health recognized the need for administrators and physicians to work in tandem, but the leadership structure already in place did not support the strategy to create a strong bench of ready-now physician leaders.

Benchmarking against the health care industry wasn’t the correct path to unite administrators and physicians, so Spectrum’s development team began looking outside the industry for leadership development examples.

By looking at companies across multiple industries with revenue of the same size, Spectrum determined that its challenges were not unique to the medical industry. In addition to modeling development initiatives used in other companies, Spectrum conducted an internal needs assessment and gap analysis to gather employee feedback through focus groups and surveys.

The company came up with a simple strategy — focus on shared development goals. Working under a systemwide leadership development framework and philosophy, Spectrum created a curriculum that balanced leading people and driving the business. The company’s leaders made creating a pipeline of sustainable talent a priority.

Since implementing the strategy through Spectrum Health University, the company’s business outcomes have reinforced its success. Spectrum’s most recent learning group, for example, showed physician participation increased from 1 to 21 percent of total participants.

SILVER: David Koll, Former Leader of Enterprise Learning, ConAgra Foods Inc.
ConAgra Foods Inc., maker of brands such as Healthy Choice, Chef Boyardee and Hunt’s, was faced with a difficult challenge when it initiated a series of acquisitions in recent years. After closing the deals, the company needed to blend the various organizational pieces into a cohesive and unified vision.

To succeed, the company needed to develop and implement a united learning solution for its more than 25,000 employees. It created an enterprisewide learning strategy to localize and personalize employee development through the use of shared resources.

Since implementing the strategy, the company is now able to leverage its learning experts to provide a holistic learning environment, with employees’ knowledge and skills growing from the increased collaboration.

The learning function’s success is driven and defined by business success. By making business objectives part of the learning process, the company says it is confident the new initiative will mean companywide success.

BRONZE: Gary Vanderlind, Vice President of Human Resources North America, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
In light of major changes in the automotive industry in 2007, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. initiated a business restructuring to cut costs by $1 billion. To bounce back from auto sales that were at a 27-year low, the company’s executive team needed to develop leaders who could spearhead drastic change.

Gary VanderLind, Goodyear’s vice president of human resources in North America, implemented cross-functional, executive-level support for its leaders. The company developed and implemented a customized leadership curriculum that blended online case studies and classroom discussion.

Fifty percent of the employees who participated in the company’s leadership program received new assignments or responsibilities. Of those employees, 28 percent made lateral moves or changed the scope of their role, and 22 percent received promotions.