The Leadership Development Economic Stimulus Package

We’ve been reading a lot of good articles on how to lead in a tough economy, how to do more with less, and how to train and develop leaders on a budget. All good stuff for sure.

However, given the recent passage of the near trillion dollar economic stimulus package, maybe we’re looking at this all wrong and missing an opportunity here. Why cut back on our leadership development programs? Don’t we need strong leaders now more than ever? Maybe now is the time to double, heck, even quadruple our spending on leadership development? And just where are we going to get the money for this kind of massive, yet important investment in our future? We’ll ask the government for it!

Yes, now is the time for the Leadership Development Economic Stimulus Package.

After all, money spent on leadership development will help create jobs for consultants, coaches, instructional designers, trainers, professors, and others in the travel and hotel business. These programs will help managers improve, which will help employees grow and be more productive, which will help businesses thrive and grow, and create even more jobs.

Now, some of these stimulus plans are weak on details. So instead of just saying “spend more on leadership development”, I’m going to provide a detailed program design.

Given our objective is to develop leaders and stimulate the economy, I’ve spared no expense. However, all of the design elements are based on real programs that I’ve heard about from networking and benchmarking with colleagues in the leadership development business. Really, none of these are made up or overly exaggerated. The costs are realistic, even conservative estimates – and it was surprisingly easy to get to three million dollars.

How to Design a Three Million Dollar Leadership Development Program

1. First of all, let’s start with the assumption that this will be a two week program, with 40 participants. That’s about the longest any program should be, with the maximum number of participants.

2. Go to one of the top 10 business schools or big 10 consulting firms and pay them to do comprehensive needs assessment. Invite in a team of professors and consultants into your business to do interviews, research, and everything needed to ensure the program is addressing strategic business objectives and developing the right competencies. The university will benefit from this research as well; it keeps the professors connected to the latest business issues and makes for great future case studies. Cost: $200,000, includes travel

3. Hire the same university or consulting firm to design a custom program just for you. Yes, the program on the surface may look just like any other program, but rest assured, the money you spent on the needs assessment will guarantee the program addresses your unique needs. Cost: $300,000 (does not include licensing fees)

4. For pre-work, develop a customized, online, media rich, interactive, game-like business simulation. Cost: $200,000

5. For additional pre-work, send each participant to a two-day assessment center, where they will go through an intense, comprehensive assessment process to determine their individual development needs. Cost: 40x$8000 each= $320,000+$80,000 travel=$400,000

6. Get a top notch, luxury conference center in a resort location. It’s hard to learn when you’re uncomfortable and hungry. Spare no expense on the food and amenities. Cost: $500,000

7. Have the participants fly in on either private planes or first class. Private limos to the hotel. Cost: $100,000

8. Hire the most famous management gurus as instructors. Throw in a few rock star keynotes. Cost: $500,000

9. Hire personal executive coaches for every participant. Not just any coaches – hire the best, those famous CEO coaches we always hear about. Cost: 40x$20,000 each= $800,000

10. You can’t have all work and no play. Participants need a chance to relax, unwind, bond, and reflect on their development. Throw in an afternoon of golf, a dinner cruise, a private rock band performance, three receptions, and a weekend spa treatments. Cost: $100,000

11. Every participant needs something to remember the program by, an “anchor”, as we like to call it in the OD and training business. Engraved crystals and team jackets usually do the trick. Cost: $10,000

12. Lost opportunity costs from having your top leaders away from the business for two weeks: priceless.

Total costs: $3,110,000

Cost if every Fortune 500 company ran two programs: Just a wee bit over one billion dollars. A drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the package.

Seriously, even if we could spend this kind of money (and companies have), should we?

Would it be irresponsible and have a questionable ROI? Actually, you might be able to justify the ROI – just think of the cost of one really bad strategic decision. But I’m convinced we can design programs that are just as effective, for a fraction of the cost.

In an upcoming post, I’ll tell you how.