For real and lasting change, build in “drip-feeding”

Shower Water Snake feeding :)
(Photo credit: Images by John ‘K’)

Last weekend, I spent my Sunday facilitating a fairly large not-for-profit board of a national association. My remit was two-fold; first, to help them develop an action plan for a major internal (mandatory) initiative spanning about 10 months, and second; to help them through a “visioning exercise” on the future of their professional discipline.

As it turned out, it took over 2 hours to work them through the first key deliverable and arrive at a real, tangible game plan (specific actions identified with names, dates, and such) for the internal initiative. The board itself was made up of a diverse group of about 18 people that were — perhaps not surprisingly for a volunteer Continue reading “For real and lasting change, build in “drip-feeding””

My dream projects and dream collaborators (#1)

Dream! (Photo credit: Melody Campbell)

After much internal musing, I have decided that I have a lot to gain from “going public”, as it were, and clearly declaring my interests in dream projects I would like to be involved in, and the kinds of people that I think might want to collaborate on those projects with me.

For anyone who has read my various materials on my “business detox project” (check here, here, and here for some quick background info), you will quickly see that my dream projects strongly intersect with my personal beliefs about how business is evolving (or more accurately, needs to evolve if it is to help us transform our Continue reading “My dream projects and dream collaborators (#1)”

Reprint: “The Source of organizational dysfunction, revealed!”

English: Dead tree Deutsch: Abgestorbener BaumI came across this article recently in the online version of strategy+business, which is the magazine published by management consulting firm Booz & Company.

The article makes the case that the source of much of the dysfunctional behavior our modern organizations demonstrate is due to the fact that for “simplicity’s sake”, we organization them as hierarchical tree structures, despite the fact that they do not at all operate that way in real life. Of course, we intuitively know this, however we’ve organized this way for hundreds of years, so it is how we do it anyway, reality be damned…

The full article is reprinted below for your ease of reading; the key take-away it makes is that what actually can pull our organizations together is shared understanding of Purpose, Values, and Performance. However, we tend to focus exclusively on measuring and chasing Continue reading “Reprint: “The Source of organizational dysfunction, revealed!””

Want to transform into a high performance business?

A car crash on Jagtvej in Copenhagen, Denmark.
A car crash on Jagtvej in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, as I work to better relate my own “transformation” value proposition into language meaningful and attractive to my clients. I mean, who wouldn’t want to own and operate a “high performance business”? But, what does that actually mean? What does a high performance business actually look like, and why are they so darn hard to build and maintain?

It’s pretty easy to speak generally about a “high performance business”: superior performance through a tight, well articulated business model and associated streamlined Continue reading “Want to transform into a high performance business?”

Change management? Change required = management

London underground, mark "Mind the gap".
London underground, mark “Mind the gap”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last evening I sat through a very informative presentation given by a colleague of mine; the topic was on why Canadian industry is suffering from an “innovation gap” (comparatively speaking, based on international ranking systems) and what the various actors — industry, government, academia, etc. — needs to do about it to systematically close the gap. The objective, of course, is that improved innovation (at the company level) leads to improved profitability and sustainable company Continue reading “Change management? Change required = management”

Are you a reluctant change agent?

Radio Dial
Radio Dial (Photo credit: tmray02)

A few days ago I was in Maryland visiting with some good friends. We had a thoughtful discussion about “change”, in which they suggested that most people are forced through circumstances to deal with all kinds of change. Family issues. Career challenges. Business issues. Whatever. The key is — something is happening and we’re forced to face up to it and deal with it. Whether we want to or not.

More concretely, what does this look like? In our business and career life — and maybe more broadly in our personal lives — I think it comes Continue reading “Are you a reluctant change agent?”

What makes an effective change agent?

Paradigma del Change Management
Paradigma del Change Management (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been mulling this question over for some time now, partly as (one of many) ways of continually improving my own articulation of my value proposition and brand as a “change guy”.  Here’s my short list for how one should approach a potential change initiative with multiple stakeholders involved:

  1. Get everyone to the table.
  2. Forget everything you know.
  3. Hold your tongue. Listen. Deeply.
  4. Dig through your toolbox and share your tools with the team.
  5. Collaboratively construct possible solutions to try out.
  6. “Lock and load” on something. Move forward. Measure.
  7. Adjust the path accordingly based on real feedback about the progress made.
  8. Be a good guest and leave before you are asked.
    Continue reading “What makes an effective change agent?”

The psychology of change

Several months ago I was lucky enough to stumble across a great blog which I started to

Deutsch: Phrenologie

subscribe to.  PSYBLOG (written by researcher Jeremy Dean studying in the UK) is chock full of interesting studies and findings about how we really work. In their summary of the top stories of 2012, they included these gems:

  • Why the incompetent don’t know they are incompetent — this is something referred to as the Dunning-Kruger Effect: basically, the poorest performers are the least aware of their own incompetence. For some reason they seem to fail to learn from their own experiences.
  • When (and why) you’re better than you think — known as the worse-than-average effect. When you are good at something (requiring special skills), you assume that everyone else is good at it also, and so you underestimate your own ability and competence.
  • Why society doesn’t change — referred to as “system justification bias”, it suggests that humans have a mental bias towards maintaining the status quo. They tend to go with what they know rather than a new, unknown option. People feel safer with the established order in the face of potential change. Continue reading “The psychology of change”

The sorry state of work-place productivity


In my daily trolling through the internet, I came across this interesting infographic examining the reasons contributing to poor workplace productivity. I think you’ll find it interesting to scroll through (shown in its entirety below), and it hits all the highlights of “time wastage” — estimated total cost (to the US economy), average hours/week, biggest time wasters, internet surfing, our reasons for wasting time, etc.

For me, two sections jumped out and had me pondering what they really tell us: where we think we waste our time, and why we waste it. For “where”, the reasons given are: 47% — meetings; 43% — office politics; 37% — fixing others’ mistakes; 36% — annoying co-workers; 22% — busywork; 20% — tending to work emails; 18% — internet; 14% — dealing with bosses. For “why” we waste time, the survey says: 35% — not challenged enough; 34% — hours are too long; 32% — no incentive to work harder; 30% — unsatisfied with job; 23% — bored; 18% — underpaid. Continue reading “The sorry state of work-place productivity”