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The Official Baldrige Blog

Insights on Leading for the “Future of Work”

Cheryl Cran 32nd Annual Quest for Excellence Keynote Speaker's photo
Credit: Cheryl Cran

“Helping companies and leaders be ‘future-ready’ now!”

That is how Cheryl Cran sums up the focus of her work as a successful business entrepreneur and author. Cran will offer insights and practical guidance how leaders today can prepare their organizations for the future of work in her keynote presentation on Friday, March 27, 2020, at the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program’s upcoming 32nd Annual Quest for Excellence® Conference

Based on two decades of supporting the leadership of thousands of organizations around the world as founder and CEO of Synthesis at Work Inc., Cran recently talked to me about two key challenges that leaders today face across all sectors and industries:

  1. Attracting and keeping top talent. For example, she noted, “millennials typically do not stay with an organization more than three years, and many leave without giving much notice.”
  2. Being able to upgrade technology quickly enough, moving from their legacy systems to full digital transformation

“One of the reasons that companies struggle with digital transformation is that they haven’t addressed people’s needs first,” she said. “If that’s done first—that is, you have focused on addressing both your employees’ and customers’ needs—your company will make a successful change,” she affirmed. “You will have a seamless change approach and an organizational culture that embraces change,” she added.

A Passion for Finding Solutions  

In her early career in finance and insurance—in which she was promoted to a leadership position at age 23, with ten direct reports—Cran’s bosses identified that she had “a natural aptitude for leadership and seeing the big picture.” Those traits have helped her clients to have greater success—“and that excited me,” she said recently. 

“My passion is in finding future-focused solutions.”

Since she launched her consulting practice in 1997, Cran has worked with organizations globally in wide-ranging sectors and industries, including technology, health, agriculture, finance, and insurance. She developed a proprietary business process tool called NextMapping™ for use by organizational leaders to prepare their workforce members and customers for the inevitable digital transformation of both the workplace and relationships with customers.

Cran said the “people first, digital second” approach of her work “helps companies address human needs as they build the leadership capacity to adapt to great changes in the business world and beyond.”

Insights for Leaders

In discussing her upcoming presentation for the Baldrige community, Cran offered the following insights for consideration by leaders who are building high-performing organizations for long-term success.

  • “Regardless of title, everyone is a leader in the future of work.”

  • “The biggest opportunity is for everyone to become more adaptable and agile toward the future of change.”

  • “The future is about collaboration, and we must all be shifting from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ approach.”

Cran’s latest book, NextMapping: Anticipate, Navigate, and Create the Future of Work, will be available for sale at the conference at the ASQ bookstore on site, and Cran will sign copies for conference participants.


Quest for Excellence Conference March 24-27 Register Today!

Quest for Excellence® Conference

NATIONAL HARBOR | March 24–27, 2020
Join us for the 32nd Annual Quest for Excellence Conference showcasing the best practices of the 2019 Baldrige Award recipients and 17 former recipients!


Tuesday, March 24
Join us Tuesday evening for the Award Ceremony and Reception honoring the 2019 recipients.

Register Now | Book Your Hotel Room

About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and current leader of the Education Team—a group of four who produce publications and communications and...

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