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2014 Conference closes with lessons on teams, teamwork, and decision making – and an invitation to Austin

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The final day of the 2014 Conference continued with the high energy of the day before as PlayWorks, Mattel’s NGO partner, engaged the audience and invited all attendees to partake in a lively group exercise to get people’s blood flowing and brain cylinders firing. Attendees sang, clapped, and sashayed around the ballroom in an exercise that helped them make new connections, all in a context of playfulness as critical for productivity and innovation.

Andy Boynton, dean of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, then opened the Mattel-sponsored session with a conversation about teams, teamwork, and what it takes to navigate through organizational change and an inevitable evolving business landscape. Virtuoso teams, as Boynton calls them, are comprised of talent who don’t always abide by the conventional tenets of collaboration, but instead are able to push themselves to face adversity, think outside the box, and employ creativity to arrive at innovative and game-changing business solutions.

Boynton framed his talk by referencing Thomas Edison, and the ingenious approach he used to drive teams to develop numerous innovations that changed the world. Boynton pointed to key Edison-inspired learnings, including:

  • Don’t be afraid to fail; failure informs success
  • Learn constantly
  • Ideate and prototype endlessly; you never know what might stick
  • Never stop trying, however unconventional the direction might be

“I like crazy ideas, and I like working like that,” remarked Boynton.

The final session of the conference began with Trisa Thompson, vice president of corporate responsibility at Dell Inc., who talked about the pace of change in business being more accelerated than ever before. She also said that today’s workforce – both millennials and older, more mature workers – have high expectations that the companies they work for not only turn profits but also do good in the world.

Thompson spoke about Dell’s 2020 Legacy of Good Plan, which had to be tweaked when Dell changed from a public to a private company last year, saying that this was certainly an example of the need to change and be adaptable. Even as Dell experienced significant changes, however, it kept social and environmental citizenship commitments as top priorities.

Thompson then introduced the closing speaker, best-selling author Chip Heath, who offered insights from his 2013 best seller, Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work. Stressing the importance of decision making among corporate citizenship leaders, particularly in ever changing marketplace, Heath concluded his talk by sharing the following key principles for making important business decisions:

  • Take a wider view, even adding one additional option to the mix can help significantly
  • Reality test your assumptions – evaluate your options; test drive assumptions before going full throttle
  • Attain some distance, which essential means to avoid getting bogged down by short-term emotion and reactivity
  • Prepare to be wrong; something’s not right if you’re not ever wrong

The conference closed with Center executive director Katherine Smith thanking conference attendees, speakers and sponsors for the incredible two-plus days of convening the best minds in the corporate citizenship space. Before the program wrapped, Smith and Trisa Thompson announced that the 2015 conference will be held in Austin, Texas, with Dell as its convening sponsor.

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