There is growing realization that much development and learning, as well as business insights, are to be gained by executives when they engage with other business people outside of their organizations and share both experiences and dilemmas in a more systematic and focused way. This is why we see the growth of self-managed cross-company consortium programs (sometimes called B2B Consortiums) that involve non-competing companies and leaders. Today we see a distinct trend by companies to self-organize and self-manage their own consortiums without business school leadership and management. 

GEL is at the forefront of organizing and facilitating the design and delivery of B2B cross company consortiums.

One early pioneering example was the Boeing-initiated International Consortium Program (ICP) (2001-2004) that involved ABB, ABN Amro Bank (today part of the Royal Bank of Scotland), BHP Billiton, and later the Benfield Group (now AON Benfield), Standard Bank from South Africa, and Tata from India.  Following on the heels of the ICP was another consortium, the Global Consortium Program (GCP) that included Alcan (now Rio Tinto), First National Bank (South Africa), Honeywell, and PanAsia Paper (now known as Norske Skog). Today there are several other consortiums including the Global Learning Alliance (since 2005) with Lilly, L’Oreal, Rio Tinto, Schneider Electric, and Wipro.

GEL continues to organize and run these B2B Consortiums and is also now helping to organize "Stakeholder" consortiums that would deal with a critical issue common to a public, private and community sector organization. Together their participants would tackle the issue, develop a deeper understanding of one another, create a sustainable network, and in the process, develop their respective leaders.


Strategic Business Challenges where participants of Consortium have to provide recommendations to their respective Executive committee

  • How do we exceed customer expectations through innovative technology?
  • What will our organization look like in 2020 with 1 billion additional consumers?
  • Research and make recommendations on the opportunities that our company could take to develop the distribution of our products and services to our customers worldwide?
  • Project Nobel’s objective is to develop a consistent relationship management approach to improve our competitive advantage in successful value delivery.
  • How do we strengthen our ability to execute and to deliver as we grow our presence globally across emerging countries
  • How do we manage for the long term while staying agile and resilient? What is our competitive advantage?
  • Effectively Rebalancing White Collars to Emerging Economies
  • Collaborating with External Communities for Differentiation
  • Becoming an agile company for enhanced business performance
  • Enabling Localization
  • Differentiation: Winning against Competition and Commoditization

from K.A. Chang, Sponsor and Participant: Global Consortium Program that included Alcan, First National Bank (South Africa), Honeywell and Pan-Asia Paper

Consortiums help senior executives ‘mirror’ themselves and it adds to their ability to make candid self-assessments of their abilities and potential when they have the opportunity to meet different counterparts from industries other than theirs. How others see the world could elevate their awareness of certain blind spots that may not be evident without an avenue of ‘discovery’. This happens all too often when one has worked too long in a single industry.

Consortiums also help them to appreciate the value and strength of a ‘collective’ leadership culture and how it builds a successful orgn. Most perennial orgns succeed on the strength of their collective leadership (values, core competence, governance, etc), not on a sole leader’s ability alone.

Managing complexity has become the hallmark of successful leaders who make their mark in corporations early in their careers. Until they’ve met the likes of their ‘nemesis’, our leaders may become too complacent and inward looking. The richness and diversity of industries help to break down this paradigm, thus allowing new perspectives and insights to be discovered, opening doors to innovation.

Senior executives ‘learn what they want to learn’. The consortium design thrives on the use of interactive enquiry in public and private for participants to engage specific areas of interest, preventing unnecessary content dump which may turn them off.

The strict selection process (pitching them at the same level of seniority) offers them an opportunity to build a new network of fellow leaders that they can tap (“third opinion”) long after the program is over. In some cases, these relationships continue throughout their careers. It would not have been possible had they not attend a consortium like arrangement.

The most important design aspect, is the development of the learning theme that is current and universal to all participating partners. The physical venues and geography adds to the compelling dialogue that necessitates robust discussions and combination of businesses they will engage throughout the program. This is termed as the ‘outside-in” experience that hopefully will shape a new global view.