Strategic Mentoring

Mentoring by FabMob – download the white paper

As announced last month, the white paper Mentoring by FabMob (La Fabrique des Mobilités) an organisation aiming to facilitate learning and innovation for actors of the mobility sector, is finally available for all to download (those who read French anyway for now).

Here is a short summary of key points.Because FabMob is first and foremost a community sharing learnings and best practices in a very open way, and also because it gathers a pool of experiences and expertise, it is the perfect actor to facilitate mentoring for a diverse mobility ecosystem. But mentoring being an often misunderstood practice, FabMob decided to avoid the following three false good ideas:

False good idea #1: Industrial organisations mentoring startups to get closer to their ecosystem

Other actors have been doing this successfully for many years, so FabMob may not have a specific added value on this. Secondly, mobility actors’ key issues may not be to gain a startup culture, or to have more intrapreneurs within, or to expand their R&D with startup portfolio. So a pure startup mentoring programme might have looked like a good idea on paper but fails to create real added value in the mobility ecosystem because too vague and not specific enough.

False good idea #2: Internal reverse mentoring programme to support digital transformation

Juniors mentoring seniors is a great practice to ensure that decision-makers stay connected with current and future state of play in society, markets, technology, ways of working and living etc. Also digital transformation is one of the key changes in the mobility sector. However, reverse mentoring may not be “the” solution for FabMob members, especially because the demographics of any company may not allow for enough juniors who could be mentors, nor does it guarantee that these juniors have experience in the specific organisation digital needs – such as plateformisation.

False good idea #3: External mentoring for intrapreneurial projects

Even though intrapreneurs being mentored by external entrepreneurs is a great way to get a reality check for employees and learn more about a different mindset to get innovative projects on the market, it might not be where FabMob adds value. First because intrapreneurship is not necessarily what will help an industrial or a government institution understand the mobility ecosystem, and its evolutions. Secondly, the complexity of the mobility industry is such that being mentored by someone with experience in entrepreneurship might not be what is most pertinent. Transforming a business towards new ways of paying for example may require mentoring by someone from another industry who has experience / insights in that domain and not necessarily from an entrepreneur’s point of view.

All in all, these three examples of mentoring programme are interesting on the surface but not creating enough value for the mobility sector and for the members of FabMob. This is why the following three mentoring models have been designed to cater for their more specific needs.

Mentoring by FabMob #1: Culture shift mentoring

Internal mentoring for those who are “in” the target culture to accompany those who are not there yet.

The leaders of a multinational company realize that the company is two-speed or that differences in culture in-house create real gaps in performance. The strengths and mindsets to innovate or evolve the business seem to exist internally but are not necessarily deployed and shared uniformly. Partly because of historical or recent cultural differences by acquisition. Without completely distorting the identity of local units (no cloning), managers seek to change the culture of the company so that it can continue to serve the strategic ambitions.

For example: Following a new business acquisition, as Renault did with Intel for example, it is necessary to accelerate on-boarding and capitalize on cultural differences to integrate them into the global culture. The idea here is not to impose one culture over the other but to welcome the culture of the other to evolve the global culture. Mentoring is called “mutual” and promotes mutual discovery for faster integration of best practices and mindsets. In their mentoring role, teams define learning objectives and in their role of mentors, they share their experiences.

Mentoring is here a vector for better dissemination of internal collective intelligence.

Mentoring by FabMob #2: Peer-to-peer mentoring

FabMob ecosystem senior managers helping each other – one-2-one mentoring – on common issues, to remove the obstacles to ongoing or already decided transitions such as the challenges that the FabMob community has already identified.

Mobility actors gathered around a table, have worked on one or more topics concerning them. Solutions and opportunities for change for their own organization are beginning to emerge. However for the implementation, they still have many questions, and could benefit from a benevolent “sounding board” (a mentor) to help them in their thinking, take a step back, ask the right questions, identify traps and good practices, with the aim of speeding up implementation and not procrastinating the complexity of a necessary change.

Example: An intrapreneur from a large organisation who is already heavily involved in the transformation of its organization faces many political challenges. He tries to convince his EXCOM to switch to open source in a historical context of strong Intellectual Property. He risks giving up, becoming discouraged and not embodying the change that the FabMob community and himself see as strategic for this organization. His mentor from the FabMob community, a member of an EXCOM himself, seasoned on these subjects and experienced in the navigation of political complexity can accompany, encourage, reassure and enlighten the mentee to help him pass this critical milestone.

Mentoring by FabMob #3: Agility mentoring

External group mentoring with a mentor experienced in setting up a practice (combination of mindset, know-how and skills) that an identified population of one or more member organizations wishes to acquire.

Technological evolutions, changes in the historical markets, new competitors are shaking up a company. Its leaders realize that they need to change their practices. They have acquired new tools, or methods, but they do not have the internal mindsets, and know how to be able to optimize or deliver their alleged benefits. Beyond training in new practices, another type of external support is needed. FabMob being at the heart of an experimenting community and having feedback on these new practices can offer agility mentoring.

Example: An automotive manufacturer wants to switch to more collaborative practices, the cloud and software. Once again beyond technical training, these are new ways of thinking, designing, communicating, and seeing the value chain that are difficult to integrate for teams. External mentorship allows mentees to decode the new world in which they live and to boost the practice over time.

Mentoring by FabMob

The white paper describes each of these three mentoring offers in terms of main principles, organisation, ROIs, traps to avoid, specificities (selecting, training and matching participants, community management etc.) and the production of commons that can be more widely shared in the FabMob community. If you wish to know more feel free to contact us at Innovation Copilots or Gabriel Plassat at FabMob.

Strategic Mentoring

Mentoring for innovation culture

To foster innovation in large corporations, several keys and « difficult to get » ingredients need to be gathered: creativity, market awareness and risk mindset whilst being reassuring to existing customers with a solid efficient structure.

Strategic Mentoring

Should Mentors of Entrepeneurs be Trained or their Experience is Enough?

Should Mentors of Entrepreneurs be Trained or their Experience is Enough? from INNOVATION COPILOTS
Strategic Mentoring

Science against the mentor myth

Forget all your romantic ideas about what a good entrepreneurial mentor is: experienced in entrepreneurship, he/she has started several companies in his/her lifetime, has failed a couple of times and learned from it and succeeded enough time to still be active now. He has mentored several startupers so he/she knows how to transfer all that experience and entrepreneurial wisdom to the neo entrepreneur that you are. Having such a mentor will mean you will increase a hundred fold your chances of success. This is the mentor myth we share in our collective unconscious… And science says different.

Strategic Mentoring

The keys to avoid mentoring matches hell

So you’ve started a mentoring programme, and managed to create some mentor-mentee pairs… After a few months you notice that some pairs are ok, some others or even many others are not seeing each other regularly, or even haven’t gone passed the first meeting. It may be a sign that the match is not a good fit, but it may not only be due to conflicting personalities, your matching process may be the problem.

Strategic Mentoring

How bad is the good idea of juniors mentoring seniors

For some years now, the practice of “reverse mentoring” – digital natives / juniors mentoring seniors – has been deployed in some large corporations with the aim to get senior employees and managers up to speed with the digital age. The term reverse mentoring has been created to distinguish itself from the traditional view of mentoring: more senior employees, hence more experienced in corporate culture, guiding the younger generation.

Strategic Mentoring

Download our white paper on strategic mentoring

Section 1 is an introduction to mentoring and focuses on the connection between mentoring and strategy, which has been underestimated by organisations and their leaders for a while. Switching perspective is key: from a “nice to have HR tool” to a “key strategic behaviour” to spread throughout the organisation.

Section 2 gives you three paragmatic examples where mentoring can support a focused business strategy:

  • Fostering women parity;
  • Rekindling innovation and intrapreneurship;
  • And finally accelerating international growth.

Section 3 shares key principles to design a mentoring programme.

And, section 4 describes how to pragmatically start a mentoring culture depending on your business and organisational context: the ancien pyramid, the silo factory and the techno network.

So, feel free to download our white paper on strategic mentoring and share the document to whoever you believe may be interested by the topic at the moment:

Also, I’d be happy to discuss any points with you or even do a keynote speech on the subject to your executive committee.

All Graphics on this white paper designed by our friends at Pollen Studio.

Strategic Mentoring

Mentoring to accelerate international growth

In our first white paper preview, we introduced a few of the key elements about mentoring and its connection to strategy. In order to give you a bit more meat on these bones, here is another part of the paper giving a specific angle on a strategic use of mentoring to accelerate international growth:

Strategic Mentoring

A first glimpse at our strategic mentoring white paper…

I’ve been working for the past few weeks on a new white paper about Strategic Mentoring for large corporations and multinational groups. The subtitle for now is “How to Build the Fabled Connected Company & Engage Ever-Changing Markets”. We’ll probably keep it that way. : )

For now we are proof-reading everything, while the page set-up and illustrations are  being finalised by our friends at Pollen Studio. Everything should be ready for distribution early September.

But, for our followers, here is a sneaky peak at the first section “Mentoring is Strategy”…

Strategic Mentoring - Merkapt

1. Mentoring is Strategy

It all started relatively slowly in the 70s, bloomed in the 90s, then again at the start of the new millennium, and appears to be again the new thing to do. Every 15 to 20 years, we are confronted with the need to renew a generation of employees all across a company organisational chart, adapting more or less painfully to a mutated generation identified by a single letter: X, Y, and now Z.

Since then, formal mentoring programmes in large firms, have been seen as one of the HR’s best practice tools.

Mentoring is an « off-line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking » (David Clutterbuck, 1999). It is a medium to long term voluntary relationship between an experienced person (mentor) and someone less experienced (mentee) who is willing to benefit from it. 

As a reach-out program, socialising new arrivals in a company’s culture by creating a personal bond with a senior employee, is quite an obvious and smart thing to do. And, once started such programmes also lead to nice, prolonged  pay-offs, like helping mentees in their career development, or helping the company retain talents (depending on your perspective).

Now let’s be clear, this is all nice and interesting, but this is not a key matter.

If your company deters high potentials and bleeds talents, it’s probably not because your HR are sub-optimal in fast-tracking high potentials, or that your juniors’ on-boarding programme is not fun enough. Most of the time, it’s because your company is clueless about how the market is evolving. And it shows.

Of course, wherever you are on the planet, the local on-going economic crisis is not helping, the digitalisation of your ecosystem (or lack off) leaves you open to aggressive new entrants that do not seem to even speak your language, and even the simple notion of being an employee seems utterly outdated with new recruits aiming at being « intrapreneurs ».

Whether you are in B2B or B2C, what you should perceive by now is that what disconnects you from your market is essentially a cultural gap. At this point, you may want to re-read Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma.

The Innovator’s Dilemma principle explains that successful companies put too much emphasis on the current market needs that make them a success. They try to reinforce the current « magic recipe » as best as possible, build a culture around it, and eventually get blind sided on new opportunities that will meet their customers’ unstated or future needs. Christensen calls the anticipation of future needs “disruptive innovation”.

If you now want to go back at the ontogenic promise of a mentoring programme, you’ll realise its true potential. Because it is built to bridge individuals with different cultures together inside the same business. It is designed to be an active strategic tool helping your company move forward through the ongoing market disruptions.

In this white paper, we’ll help you understand how to design a mentoring programme that sustains your business strategy, and then eventually how to cascade it with an HR perspective.

Now that we better understand the role and versatility of mentoring programmes, let’s identify the key dimensions that you can leverage to serve your strategy.

Think of these dimensions as building blocks, that will help you connect your business to the HR perspective, and foster positive change throughout the company:

Strategic Mentoring
The key dimensions of strategic mentoring…


We’ll publish a few other snipets during the next days. Stay tuned!

Strategic Mentoring

Nos dernières publications sur le mentorat

Nous sommes probablement une des rares agences de conseil à produire de la recherche académique. Bien que nous en parlions peu ici, depuis la fin de mes travaux de doctorat sur le mentorat d’entrepreneurs, plusieurs de mes articles ont été publiés dans des revues scientifiques. Voici les résumés de nos dernières publications sur le mentorat. Si elles vous intéressent n’hésitez pas à me contacter pour en recevoir une copie par mail.

Strategic Mentoring

Download our white paper on implementing a mentoring programme

In this short white paper, I will endeavour to answer the key questions you may have about entrepreneurial mentoring and the implementation of a programme.

Strategic Mentoring

Mise en place d’un programme de mentorat entrepreneurial pour une CCI

Le 21 juin je suis intervenue pour le réseau des CCI de France sur la mise en place d’un programme de mentorat entrepreneurial. Après une présentation générale sur le sujet (qu’est-ce que le mentorat ? A quoi ça sert ? Quels sont les ingrédients de la réussite?), je leur ai donné les clés de la mise en place d’un programme formel : de l’attraction, sélection et formation des mentors et mentorés, à l’évaluation des résultats en passant par la mise en relation des binômes et le suivi des relations.