Northwestern University
Dean Blount's Blog

2011: A Year of Conversations
December 29, 2011

What a year 2011 has been for our world and what a year for Kellogg…

Like many of you, I find myself reading year-end lists, synopses and commentaries. As I reflect, I am inspired and humbled by stories of triumph even among the tragedies and losses that our world has seen this year.

For me, much of the year’s news was a blur. At work, I booked more travel miles — more than 125,000 — than ever before in my life. At home, I had many real conversations with family members and friends as they navigated profound transitions in their own lives. The intensity of life both at work and at home was at times overwhelming, and certainly demanded a good deal of grit.

Yet, it was also a year of celebration and joy, as I watched friends get married and welcome new babies, and saw faculty achieve tenure. I celebrated my own 50th birthday with family and friends, which was also quite special.

At Kellogg, we set an ambitious agenda for 2011. Last January, I introduced a seven-year work plan, and as the year ends, we’ve made great progress on that plan. We have a nearly complete five-year strategic plan; a newly articulated brand positioning; a new organizational structure; and an architect for our global hub. Our team has prepared a video that captures our progress.

To get this work done, we held many conversations with many different people from across the Kellogg community. We listened to many voices and reflected back what we were hearing. We posed alternative frames and considered new ones ourselves. That process was critical to achieving all that we did.

And so, as I end the year, I am struck by how much both leadership and life are about convening and deeply engaging in conversations – both large and small. Conversation is the essence of collaboration, momentum, and insight and…of healing, friendship, and love.

May 2012 be another year of rich and fruitful conversations!

I welcome your comments, feedback and ideas at

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