Last year, NAS brought the participants of The Chief Executive Program together at an ideation conference to collectively work on real-world solutions to four key problems facing the field: engaging collaborators in shaping our institutional agendas; creating 21st century boards; developing transformational employees and systems; and maximizing the field’s value in the eyes of the public. The result of that convening was over 400 ideas for how to solve those issues.
We prepared a report that documents the ideas generated and some of the materials used to help participants frame the issues and work on the solutions. This is not a complete set of step-by-step instructions carved on stone tablets. It is a starter kit – prototypes to be tested and refined or simply inspiration for your own ideas on how to solve these problems.
Solving big problems is not easy. We are often under immense pressure to present “the answer,” fully formed. This pressure can make finding solutions seem daunting and risky. When solving problems it’s very easy to jump straight into the details. What we encourage leaders to do is start broad and layer in detail. With each layer ask yourself, “If I had the funding for this right now, what would I need to know before I pulled the trigger?” As you answer these “killer questions,” your concept will become more defined. Each layer you add mitigates more risk and brings you closer to “the answer,” fully formed.
The tools we provide online will help you work through these steps – by describing your concept, defining and ranking your measures of success, brainstorming and experimenting. The website itself is a place where you can share your killer questions, learn about others’ questions and work together to define and refine solutions.
The ideas listed on the site are seeds that we are sowing in the field. We want leaders and communities to feed and water them – to help them grow. We also want you to sow your own seeds. Add your insights and ideas to the site so that others can help them grow as well. We have provided tools to help with this. Let us know if there are other tools you need. The community chose these four problem statements because they affect the entire field. To belabor the metaphor even further, if we all share in the cultivation of these idea we will all benefit from their harvest.