I absolutely love this recent Wall Street Journal article in which Harvard Business School asked how their mission might change in the 21st century, and which resulted in the Advanced Leadership Initiative.
This is an excellent example of an organization looking at its strengths and asking how they can be used to serve a demographic that is not served today, as well as evolving the university’s brand by creating what they call a “third stage” of higher education: another tier of education for older adults who have great experience and connections, and who are still vibrant and want to use their talents post-retirement to solve some of the world’s problems. The curriculum provides access to all Harvard classes, faculty, graduate students, and colleagues to fulfill the individual’s societal challenge project.
I have mentioned before how John Sweeney and the Brave New Workshop challenge companies by asking “what if people no longer want to buy the products or services you offer? What will you do?” How leaders take a hard look at their core skills and find new ways to offer them as new, viable products and services is what differentiates true change agents from managers.