5 Questions with Jenna Dudevoir
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
"The more diversity, the more opportunity there is to
identify better ideas and ways to get things done."
Jenna Dudevoir is marketing director for Kalypso,
leading all aspects of the consulting firm’s marketing strategy. She
also is involved in developing programs dedicated to the personal and
professional growth of the company's employees. She serves as NEW co-ambassador
for Kalypso. Prior to joining the firm, Dudevoir held marketing and pre-sales
roles at Alignent Software and served in marketing and client relationship
management roles at Bates Communications, an executive coaching firm she helped
start. She contributed to and edited Speak Like a CEO and edited The Third Act: Writing a Great Ending to Your
Kalypso recently released a study showing
collaborative idea generation -- working with many partners in the value chain
-- will produce real bottom-line results. How does diversity of leadership
advance collaborative partnerships?
The ultimate goal of collaborative partnerships
for cpg manufacturers and retailers is to create new growth opportunities by
developing more innovative offerings together. Diversity of leadership provides
an opportunity to gain new ideas, perspectives and insights to feed this
process. Consider diversity not just in terms of gender and ethnicity, but role
level, cross-functional responsibility, thinking style and experience.
Diversity of the insights from the retailer, manufacturer, shopper and consumer
create the engine for collaborative innovation. We find that companies that are
diverse across all of these dimensions are generally more successful in
developing successful collaborative innovation initiatives.
For the study, you surveyed 170 NEW members at
the 2010 Executive Leaders Forum. Nearly 3 in 5 said their organizations’
leadership was only "somewhat diverse" when it came to gender. Is that a fair
It’s a pretty accurate reflection of the current
workforce environment. Although women account for half of the U.S. workforce,
we know many organizations lack gender diversity at the senior level. Companies
are setting diversity strategies and are making incremental improvements, but
the gender and ethnic diversity is just not there yet in the boardroom. There
is a significant opportunity to close the gap for executive management and
c-suite diversity to truly reflect the workforce demographics.
What would greater gender diversity in the
c-suite mean for collaborative idea generation?
There are many studies that illustrate how gender
diversity positively affects collaboration and raises the collective
intelligence of teams. Simply stated, the more diversity, the more opportunity
there is to identify better ideas and develop better ways of getting things
done. A successful collaborative innovation program starts from the top and
that means having leadership that is diverse not only in gender but in
backgrounds, experiences and capabilities. This diversity ultimately helps
drive the bottom line in sales and profit improvements.
How can manufacturers and retailers nurture
collaboration internally -- and what role does diversity and inclusion play?
Manufacturers and retailers have a tremendous
opportunity to drive business growth by collaborating together, but they must
get their own house in order first and structure their own organization to
collaborate internally. A clearly defined innovation strategy that focuses on
organizational behavior, processes and capabilities is the key to success. Of
course, inclusion and diversity play a critical role in achieving this. While a
collaborative innovation initiative starts with executive leadership, it can’t
remain there. Internal innovation teams need to represent all functions in the
broader innovation process. Aligning the organization around this helps people
understand their individual role in the process, and where they can contribute.
Effectively harnessing the diversity of thought, experience and perspective will
yield breakthrough ideas and products that meet unmet needs.
Do women leaders approach collaborative
partnerships differently than men? If so, how?
Forming collaborative partnerships can be
challenging, especially where manufacturers and retailers can potentially
compete. It’s a delicate balance. The foundation for all collaborative
partnerships is trust, and building personal relationships is at the core of
that. While many studies show that women are socialized to form collaborative
relationships, our survey participants reveal there is still work to be done in
this area, with only 35 percent rating themselves as excellent collaborators
and innovators. They cite the need to devote more time and effort to building
these personal relationships that are so critical to collaborative innovation.
There are terrific examples of women executives in cpg/retail who are creating
breakthroughs for their companies by leading this effort.