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Business faculty and 3M partner address international conference

L to R: Lynn Schleeter, Faye Larson and Mary Henderson.
L to R: Lynn Schleeter, Faye Larson and Mary Henderson.
Photo supplied.

A 3M leader and three St. Catherine University faculty members presented at the international conference Partnership 2012, hosted by the Copenhagen Business School. The conference attracted the world’s leading experts from business, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and universities to disseminate knowledge about innovative, cutting-edge partnerships and stimulate match-making between businesses and NGOs.

 3M’s team leader of strategic corporate/university partnerships, Norbert Biderman, co-authored and co-presented a white paper with Lynn Schleeter, director of St. Kate's Center for Sales Innovation; Mary Henderson, professor and business administration department chair, and Faye Larson, assistant professor and department co-chair.

White paper analyzed company-university partnership

The research paper, “New Process for Sustainable Cross Sector Partnerships” analyzed 3M’s 15-year collaborative partnership between St. Catherine University and several other institutions and identified an effective process for creating long-term, sustainable partnerships.

The Center for Sales Innovation was established in 1998 with 3M support in response to the talent shortage in the field of sales. Marjorie Mathison Hance '70, vice-president for external relations (then director of corporate and foundation relations) and  Jimmiee Gaulden Sr. (1952-2009), 3M manager of talent management, were the partnership's early leaders.

The white paper cited that a successful strategic partnership (in contrast with transactional and other evolving types of partnerships) must have three characteristics:

  • shared values,
  • harmonious cultures and
  • process alignment.

Framework for the future

The group presented a Partnership Model Framework to illustrate a disciplined, repeatable process, such as 3M’s highly effective Frontline Initiative, an ongoing sales force improvement program.

The partnership model is based on incremental continuous process improvement that incorporates innovative ideas and projects. Key success factors include listening to the voice of partner (VOP) and learning from all constituents.

According to Biderman, "The effectiveness of the partnership model revolves around clear understanding and agreement about the external marketplace (both current realities and future trends) coupled with the baseline core competencies and desired future state of all stakeholders. Commitment, collaboration and candor are essential ingredients to continued process improvement and relevancy."

“The partnership flourishes since key stakeholders’ respond appropriately to VOP by evaluating and managing changes to deliver results,” says Schleeter. “It is clear both partners have a deep commitment to the greater good in sustaining a long-term partnership.”

Honoring Gaulden's efforts on behalf of the partnership, the authors shared his endorsement of it in the white paper, “the partnership shared by 3M and the College of St. Catherine [now St. Catherine University] embodies these three defining characteristics of a strategic collaboration and is the gold standard for a sustainable partnership.”

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Aug. 2, 2012 by Susan Blakely

See also: Business, Faculty