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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.

Join us for our first-ever virtual conference! 

The Quest for Excellence Conference April 3-6, 2022 - Register Today!

Quest for Excellence® Conference

Monday, April 12–Thursday, April 15, 2021

The three-day virtual showcase will feature the 2019 and 2020 Award recipients, former recipients, pre-conference workshops, senior leader plenary sessions with live Q&A, more than 70+ on-demand concurrent sessions, conference keynote, and more!

Register Today! 

About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). Her work has focused on producing BPEP publications and communications. She also has been highly involved in the Baldrige Award process, Baldrige examiner training, and other offerings of the program.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a double major, receiving highest distinction for her thesis in the interdisciplinary Political & Social Thought Program. She also has a master's degree from Georgetown University, where her studies and thesis focused on social and public policy issues. 

When not working, she sits in traffic in one of the most congested regions of the country, receives consolation from her rescued beagles, writes poetry, practices hot yoga, and tries to cultivate a foundation for three kids to direct their own lifelong learning (and to PLEASE STOP YELLING at each other—after all, we'll never end wars if we can't even make peace at home!).

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