Ashland Chemical's "Simply the Best" Leadership Development Program: A Presentation to the Boston Trainers Roundtable

On May 8, Jonathan Milton and Michael Sales of New Context presented to the Boston Trainers' Roundtable their experience working as external consultants to Ashland Chemical's award winning "Simply The Best" leadership development program. Bill Wilson, an independent consultant who works closely with New Context, joined them.

Ashland began rolling out this program in 1995. With a target of over 900 management personnel - from CEO to supervisor - the program was initiated by top management to prepare the organization for what they knew would be a dramatically changing, and more competitive, industry environment.

What would be the attitudes and mind-sets, the hard skills and the "people" skills, the more integrated and collaborative management techniques, and ways of dealing with information, suppliers, customers and communities that would be necessary to survive and thrive?

How could a leadership program be designed and delivered that would engage such a variety of levels of management expertise?

After presenting an introductory program to top management, the Ashland Human Resource Design Team was designated to build the program - 4 weeks of training delivered in groups of about 70 managers in less than a three and a half year time frame. They did so by bringing together a variety of external consultants to work with them as program designers and presenters. Jonathan, Michael and Bill participated in this innovative partnership of internal and external specialists. The Roundtable presentation explored the context of the program, some of the specific methods used and the collaborative design approach Ashland supported.