Cultivating Your Strategic and Creative Thinking for Risk Managers and Executives | 3-month online program

The Leadership Challenge Program - Gain the Tools To Be a More Strategic Leader by Cultivating Your Strategic Thinking

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What's important to know in terms of background?

The next Course starts on November 7 and includes 6 virtual sessions with the trainer every other week. Additional options include home work assignments and coaching.

How do the best leaders develop their strategy?

How do effective leaders drive strategic change?

  • Research says every year 2 million individuals enter leadership positions and 60% fail! After my 43 years of hands-on consulting, most often the root cause is a failure to think strategically!
  • 90%+ of the time when even a good organization underperforms or fails, the failure is a failure in leadership. Once again, based on my global experience, the root cause was a failure to think strategically.
  • Research says most executive development is disconnected from the real needs of the organization and those who must lead it. This program guarantees a direct connection with the true needs of your organization!

What will you achieve by the end of the program?

1. Understand the most critical strategic approaches you need to be utilizing in your organization and why;

2. Be able to focus the power of your organization on the right strategic and operational issues to be “the best you can be” as an organization;

3. Have a clear understanding of the factors that will lead to enhanced organizational performance in the future – take you to the next level of performance;

Know where the “gaps” are now in terms of what you are currently doing and what you have to do differently to be successful

Be better prepared to act as ‘change agents’ in your organization

Be more creative and think more strategically about your business

What are the objectives of this program?

Know how to ask the key questions – the ones, which when answered, will provide you with the depth of insight needed to make more optimal decisions at a higher – more strategic level and make them faster – engage in what we call hyper-decision making.

To be able to recognize patterns – to see the dots before others do and connect them faster so you see the full picture in a way others do not and in a way that always allows you to be more proactive – not reactive

To be able to take a system’ s view of how things work as well as the understand the critical need for having systematic, integrative and comprehensive processes that comprise those systems

Refining your integration capability as you will be able to take many different fragmented pieces, systems or approaches and begin to link them together by identifying and assessing the importance of the points of commonality that exist between them – understand the interdependencies between them which others fail to see.

It will be very important that as you approach finding solutions to the issues presented, use your own company as the point of reference. In other words, through what we do in these brain teasers, these mind challenges, that we not only stretch your mind making you a more capable executive now or in the future, but that we also, through your creativity and high quality thinking, find ways to help improve the performance of your own organization. This, then, makes you a change agent within your organization!

What's unique about this program?

  • It is totally unique! No other program exists anywhere in the world like this one
  • The entire program is based on hands-on practical, real concepts and situations directly from Dr. Marra’s 43 years of global experience in 39 countries and in over 160 organizations of every type – there is NO THEORY!
  • You have the chance to interact directly and privately or in small work groups with Dr. Marra
  • The private time with Dr. Marra can be used to review the challenging homework assignment or gain some executive coaching support from Dr. Marra
  • You will be challenged to be the best you can be in new and different ways – confronted with situations from real organizational challenges covering all different aspects of business as you have never been challenged before. That may scare you and to take this program you need to have courage and confidence!
  • You will be presented with 3 options when you applied:

Option 1: The presentation, in addition to providing valuable charts you can use immediately, will provide a 'Challenge Question' which will challenge you to apply what you learned to your organization.

Option 2: The 'Challenge Question' becomes a homework assignment which is graded by Dr. Marra on quality of thinking and creativity. It is the same 'Challenge Question' as shown in the Option 1 but to write down your answer and submit to Dr. Marra for review and comment and grading. You will have up to 2 weeks to do the assignment and submit it.

Option 3: Same as Option 2 plus virtual individual coaching sessions of total 1,5 hours with Dr. Marra to discuss homework or any other management issues you may have so you can have private sessions with Dr. Marra – gain clarification, verification, support or even executive coaching on challenges you have in your work environment.

Who Should Participate?

This program will work best for ambitious senior managers or aspiring leaders who want to learn how to think outside the boundaries they currently operate in – to see and be challenged by not only the bigger picture, the holistic view but the complexity that comes with it.

Any ambitious member of management from middle management upward to senior management across any functional area. Grow and develop – learn to confront issues outside your normal comfort zone with relative ease unlike you have been able to do in the past.

Why Should You Participate

If you have any desire – any aspiration to be able to enhance your strategic thinking capability – a critical capability you need to have based upon our experience if you are to become a member of management or if you are already on the leadership team of your organization.

Without it you will not be able to steer your organization through the unchartered and turbulent waters of the future – through the relentless change, competitive threats and technological revolution that is already around us and growing stronger every day.

Helping to ensure your organization endures the test of time and turbulence and maintains excellence in all it does, continuously sets the standard for performance and creates and delivers value to all key stakeholders is a big job – one that demands strategic thinking capability.


You will also get the following additional Bonuses:

Bonus #1. An Organizational Vulnerability Assessment - valued at $100

Bonus #2.Background & Overview of the Insights Paradigm ‘Organizational Vulnerability’ Survey - valued at $50

Bonus #3. Customer Focus Assessment Survey. Find out How Customer Focused Your Organization Really Is! - valued at $150


The Outline.

The next program starts on November 7 with the "limited virtual class size".

The program consists of the following 6 modules:

Module 1. The innovation/opportunity matrix – Part 1

Identifying the critical issues the leadership team must identify and resolve to move their organization from a ‘red ocean’ positioning to more of a ‘blue ocean’ positioning

Module 2. The Innovation/opportunity Matrix – Part 2

Here we get into more detail regarding the what and the how – about issues such as ‘value’, what it means, why it is so strategically important and how you will do what needs to be done to reinvent your organization

Module 3. Business Models - Part 1

You want to create an enduring organization which can withstand the test of time, change and turbulence; set the standard for excellence; ensure performance as measured by the right KPI’s positions your organization as ‘best-in’breed’; and that you continuously create and deliver value to all key stakeholders. What are the components of the business model – which is the heart or spirit of your organization? Why are they critical?

Module 4. Business Models – Part 2

Revise your business model components and be prepared to answer key questions about those components such as (1) Why is it critical that the leadership team be a team? What are some of the behaviours and practices that show he leadership team is leading by example – that they are being a role model for ‘teamwork’? How will this make a difference in organizational performance

Module 5. Hyper-Decision Making – Part 1

You job is to find ways to help your organization make more optimal decisions faster than ever. You know that to be successful in the market your organization has to be more agile and part of that is how your organization goes about making decisions. There are some 9 factors that affect speed and quality of decision making in an organization. You will be given 4 of them and you will have to come up with the other 5. Then you will need to explain how each factor influences the speed and effectiveness (optimality) of decision making

Module 6. Hyper-Decision Making – Part 2

You have been given the assignment of designing an effective decision-making business process. You may even be given a ‘ strawman’ process – a design which a senior manager in your organization did some time ago when he was thinking about this issue. You must pass judgement on it and/or design the right decision-making process.

Additional Feature #1: Course Software That Keeps You On Track

The course software is very easy to use. It tracks your progress for you, allowing you to come back right where you left off. This keeps you organized and helps you focus your time on learning.

You can access the course anytime, from any device. Watch the presentations, videos and downloadable materials on any tablet or smartphone.

Additional Feature #2: Ability to collaborate with both author and other students, ask questions and make comments.

Your Satisfaction Is Guaranteed

Our goal is to help you become a better Leader so you can take your career to the next level.

We want you to use this course as a resource for continued learning. If you take the course and are not satisfied with what you learned, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

Your satisfaction is guaranteed by our 100% money-back guarantee refund policy.

Your Instructor

Dr. Ted Marra
Dr. Ted Marra

Ted is a strategic facilitator to the world's top organisations assisting them with transformation and the most challenging operational and strategic issues including turnarounds, new business launches, global organisational change

He is an organizational mentor and writer, he has lectured in MBA/EMBA programmes at universities in Boston, Detroit, the UK, Switzerland and Croatia. He is now a Member of the Board of MAX/Knowledge Now, a global learning organisation.

Marra is the author of numerous reports for the Conference Board in New York and others as well as articles for US and European Journals and some 50 Posts on his LinkedIn site. His most recent book, ‘The Wisdom Chronicles: Competing to Win’ was just published in January 2015. Areas of expertise in addition to Strategic Leadership include Relationship Mastery, Business Excellence and Research.

He has consulted with over 160 organizations in 39 countries during the past 43 years and has guided transformation initiatives in some of the world’s most prominent companies such as Xerox, Shell, IBM, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Johnson & Johnson, DuPont, Electrolux as well as government agencies, SME’s and NGO’s. He has led business turnarounds, launched new businesses and helped SME’s double in size and move from a local to global market reach.

Ted was also Senior Policy Advisor for President Reagan and has held management positions with such organizations as General Motors and Goodyear as well as owning and operating two consulting companies – MQI in Boston and The Centre for Innovation Management Europe Ltd. in the U.K

He is currently a partner in a new start-up organisation in Dubai, UAE called Insights Paradigm which is a very unique strategic advisory and facilitation organisation.

What Others Are Saying

I have had the privilege to work with Dr. Marra both as a mentor and colleague. Dr. Marra has a broad and deep understanding on how to assist organizations in improving themselves for viability and sustainability.

What truly sets Dr. Marra apart is the combination of his deep academic skills, the huge amount of cross cultural experience from a variety of industries and the ability to always use and promote thinking as a strategic asset. He is one of the few I have come across who have captured so many of the vital aspects of what is required for success with such down to earth clarity.

- Gӧran Kӓllmark, CEO, Informed Decisions, Sweden

What Others Are Saying

For many years I worked with Ted in Switzerland. His ability to boil down most complicated issues of management to the key points fascinates me time after time. He is able to deliver clear strategic advice without becoming nebulous or losing contact to the operative grounds of success.

As a lecturer for senior executive programs in Swiss universities, as well as a consultant, he used his experience gained by working with a lot of renowned companies around the world to provide valuable insight and support.

- Dr. Lothar Natau, Management and Bereitungs Gmbh, Switzerland

What Others Are Saying

Our leadership team worked with Dr. Marra on optimizing key decision making processes in our company. From the very beginning it was clear that he was guiding us with strong and silent confidence based on deep academic foundation and broad real life experience.

Dr. Marra helped me and my colleagues to find our way through the decision making jungle and pave it into a clear and simple path. At the same time he contributed to the development of key members of our staff—some of our 'leaders of tomorrow'—through their involvement in Strategic Business Improvement Teams designed to specifically support each of several domain decision Councils we created as part of the transformation process.

- Nikola Dujmović, CEO, SPAN, Croatia

What Others Are Saying

Ted's years of experiences in different field of business have given him great insight and wisdom to assist other leaders and professionals like himself coordinate their goals more appropriately. His success comes from the success of others and his brand of humility allows him to be easily approachable and trustworthy. I strongly recommend everything he has to offer as reputable and a very respectable person.

- Olayiwola A. Alara, Executive Chairman and CEO at AAGC

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.
When does the course starts and finish?

The Next Course starts November 7 , includes 6 virtual sessions with the trainer every other week.

I am a small business owner and have often found that courses such as this work well for larger companies, but are not applicable to a true small business.
You will be confronted with real life situations which you need to be able to handle regardless of your organisation - SME, large corporate, public sector or NGO. These situations will force you to stretch your thinking in new and better ways which can be of tremendous benefit or value to you and your organisation regardless of size or industry or any other classification. The first challenge or situation you will be presented with is actually from an SME client of mine in Eastern Europe who wanted to grow more profitably and be more competitive as well as expand globally. Other situations will be from a variety of organisations which have been clients over the past 43 years such as IBM, Xerox, Johnson & Johnson, Telecommunications Ministry and hundreds more. However, this challenge applies to all organisations.
Will I receive any deliverables?
You will receive ideas, concepts, approaches, charts which you can immediately use to help yourself grow and help your organisation be more successful.
Why is the limitation to 16 participants only?
This is because we want to combine flexibility in content presentation, quality assurance by checking and grading home assignments and eventually including coaching.

Closing Letter

This program is all about challenging yourself to be the best you can be. It’s about meeting challenges and beating them – both major operational and strategic. It’ s about stretching your thinking further than you thought possible and enjoying the experience. This is why I like to think of the human mind as a rubber band. Namely, you know it’ s working when its stretched. If you never challenge your mind, it does not develop.

To up your game you need to regularly stretch it to think in new and varied directions – taking journeys into previously unchartered waters. It also builds confidence especially when it comes time to making more optimal decisions faster than ever. We will explore issues related to hyper-decision making, agility, adaptation/organisational change, relationship mastery and much more.

After 43 years of hands-on experience around the globe – having lived or worked in 39 countries and assisting more than 160 organizations of every sector and industry, patterns start to emerge.

In my book, “The Wisdom Chronicles: Competing to Win”, I make the point that the success of virtually all organizations comes down to the relentless focus on a vital few factors. The unfortunate truth is that most senior executives are clueless about what they are.

In fact, as stated in my book, I go one step further (and this has been confirmed by other thought leaders in my global network) and state unequivocally that “90% of the time when you see an organization underperforming or failing, the failure is that of leadership”.

Probing even more deeply to uncover the root cause of this phenomenon, one pretty quickly identifies ‘lack of capability or maintaining the necessary retention span to think strategically’ as the primary root cause. Is it any wonder? Survey after survey, year after year by Gallup and others indicates time and again that senior management spends less than 5% of their time on ‘things strategic’.

You see senior executives have had a pattern of hiding their heads in the sand when it comes to doing things which are uncomfortable or painful. One of these areas of discomfort is thinking strategically often because it hasn’t been developed properly or completely even through education such as an M.B.A. or E.M.B.A. programme or even high priced executive development engagement at the likes of IMD, INSEAD, Harvard or others. The reason being that the premium is still placed on knowledge acquisition, not knowledge application.

Consequently, three things are happening:

(1) Confidence in making strategic or even large scale operational decisions isn’t growing because too little emphasis is being placed on application of the knowledge gained and

(2) the half-life of knowledge is decreasing at an ever faster rate; and

(3) the knowledge provided through various programmes of higher business education is often not linked to the true needs of the business, a fact backed up by research over many years.

It’s a lot more comfortable to focus on things of an to moderate operational or tactical nature and short-term issues rather than focusing on the future – after all, the future is a mystery isn’t it? So if the culture in your organisation is one that follows an incremental approach – let’ s get 5 or 10% better (incrementalism, by the way, is the biggest enemy of innovation) and is risk averse, short-term oriented and numbers focused where the ‘plan’ is often the annual budget, one does not have to get very creative or forward thinking to survive another day.

But there will come a time that to survive even one more day will take on crisis proportions and call for strategic decisions which, unfortunately, will not be forthcoming unless a consultant is brought in on a white horse to save the day. But in this process, the leadership team has not built its capability to think strategically but simply abdicated their role and responsibility to a consultant who takes his money and runs.

Please note too that strategic thinking is NOT the same as strategic planning. In the latter case a relatively rigid set of steps are followed to collect data and information; analyze it; construct scenarios around it to be explored for their relative impact; setting of priorities and objectives along with appropriate strategies and so on until the leadership team or whoever is involved in the ‘planning process’ converges on some consensus. At a minimum, this approach should be a systematic, integrated and comprehensive standard business process, but often is not.

This programme is a call to arms so to speak – to arm yourself with the capability to think strategically even if those around you are lost on what to do or how to do it they are running scared.

This programme is also designed in a unique way which allows you to ‘dip your toe in’ and test the water – see how it feels. Then, you decide if you want to go further or not. What we can guarantee you is that you will be exposed to a huge variety of areas your business – each one being a building block with which you can significantly expand your capability to think strategically.

Every three weeks , a strategic concept of vital importance will be presented to you and briefly discussed along with a short homework assignment which will be reviewed and feedback given by me, Dr. Ted Marra, Sr. Partner of Insights Paradigm and one of the strategic facilitators in the organization. The homework only need be returned by a certain due date ususally within a total of 7 calendar days. This, however, will be fine-tuned based upon your response.

We want to challenge you to think more holistically – move out of your silo mode unless you already have done so. Have some fun as well. Remember too that what will be shared will be ‘practical, fact based, hands-on, real life’ issues and approaches – NO theory please! What you will discuss is wisdom and wisdom is timeless unlike knowledge which, as we have said above, has a half-life which continues to shrink. It will be directly relevant to the true needs of your business.

Once again, this programme is quite different from anything you have seen before. It is a programme in which each session presents a challenging situation which you individually or a small work group of 3-4 must find a solution. The other issues which is quite different is that there may well be more than one solution. What I will grade is your creativity and quality of thinking – strategic and large scale operational issues. These are all designed to be fun yet stretch your mind – develop you in new ways which will be invaluable to you as you move forward into more senior positions and ones with greater responsibility – now or in the future.

This programme will be designed to run initially for 3 months and present you with one challenging strategic or operational issue every two weeks. You will have time then, as we discussed above, in which to respond with your solution or that of your work group. A date for responding will be given with the assignment. Once again I will grade and comment based upon the creativity and level of thinking that has been exhibited to come up with your solution and why I may find issues with it – that is, it may not work as well as you think, or it may be superb. However, as stated above, the issues which you will presented with are complex enough that there will be multiple solutions – some will undoubtedly be better than others.

To Summarise what is so unique:

First, this is the ONLY programme available which challenges students to think strategically – to present them with challenging scenarios which, if they are currently a senior executive or one day will become one because they are on the fast track or they enjoy learning in a new way, this programme is for you .

Second, there are no quizzes as quizzes do not ‘fit’ the design or content of this learning. Instead, homework will be presented which will force you to think in new and different ways. The homework can be done individually or in work groups of 4. As people sign up for the programme they will be assigned to work groups. Each work group can decide amongst themselves if they want to remain a work group or go forward individually. We are flexible. If you decide to go independently and then want to rejoin a work group, you need only let us know and we will arrange it.

Third, the homework will be graded on the basis of two key factors – creativity and quality of strategic thinking. There may be other dimensions, but for now, those will be the two major ones. The scenarios you will be presented will have more than one answer – there may not be a ‘right’ answer, but there may be better answers. That will be for me, Dr. Marra to determine.

It will be very important that as you approach finding solutions to the issues presented, use your own company as the point of reference. In other words, through what we do in these brain teasers, these mind challenges, that we not only stretch your mind making you a more capable executive now or in the future, but that we also, through your creativity and high quality thinking, find ways to help improve the performance of your own organisation. This, then, makes you a change agent within your organisation!

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