Resources: Blog Post

June 17, 2015

Closing and opening gaps for competitive advantage

Image of cyclistsI am a cyclist. It is in my blood: son of a national-level cyclist; nephew of cyclists who were born in the family or married into it; cousin and now uncle of cyclists; and one day most likely, granddaddy of a cyclist! I grew up watching countless televised races, going up the Pyrenees Mountains each July to see the Tour de France, and attending local amateur races as a spectator before eventually taking a license and competing in them. Like any cyclist, I am utterly obsessed with gaps: when I see one, I need to close it. Unless of course I am in a breakaway, a good scenario which itself is the result of opening and increasing a gap.

In our professional world, there is the decades-old gap between academia and practitioners. This classic divide has produced numerous lively debates. As management practitioners operating in competitive sectors, we need to regularly challenge our assumptions, paradigms and old habits. Keeping abreast of research that is both recent and relevant is an important part of that process. We must take the time to stop and reflect on new insights uncovered by researchers  – and decide on the implications for our organizations and its leaders.

In other words, bridging the academia-practitioner divide helps close, open or increase a gap between our organizations and the competition. But who has time to sort through all the research that academia produces?

Fortunately, there is the Strategically Capability Network (SCNetwork) – a non-profit, volunteer-run association of business leaders looking to “achieve competitive strength through people”. On Wednesday June 24, SCNetwork will hold, in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, a breakfast conference titled Academia Meets Corporate Canada. It will also be broadcast live on the web.

Since last summer, SCNetwork has had numerous discussions with three universities near Toronto: McMaster University, University of Guelph and University of Waterloo. The objective was to identify engaging professors with new research insights that are highly relevant to the association’s core audience: senior management practitioners. The next step was to handpick Chief HR Officers (CHROs) among SCNetwork’s membership and pair them with the professors.

In preparation for the event, each professor-CHRO duo has discussed the new insights from the research. They have debated the implications for businesses. By challenging each other’s views, they have started closing the classic academic-practitioner gap on important issues:

  • Knowledge hiding in organizations;
  • Mindfulness for more effective leadership; and
  • Dealing with the increasing complexity facing leaders and organizations.

On June 24, the profs and CHROs will dig further into these topics and more – with active participation and critical input from the entire audience. What an opportunity to close the gap on key people issues for competitive advantage!

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I would want is to miss this event. After all, I am a cyclist: I hate gaps, unless I am the one in front ;-). So I’ve cleared my early-morning agenda for this coming Wednesday and registered to this unique event.

What are you waiting for?
Join the conversation on LinkedIn

Register for Academia Meets Corporate Canada here

Copyright © 2015 by ORCHANGO. All rights reserved. Posted with permission | Photo credit: © Cycles

About the authorPhoto of Edmond Mellina

Edmond Mellina is president of ORCHANGO, a Toronto-based learning and consulting firm that specializes in building the change capabilities of organizations while helping them execute strategic change. Edmond has been serving for many years on both the National Board of Directors and the Toronto Leadership Team of the Strategic Capability Network. He contributes monthly to the new HR People & Strategy blog.

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