All posts by MSS

4 Radically Practical Strategies to Elicit Commitment & Accountability in Today’s Climate of Change and Disruption

It is challenging to get people’s attention in this age of information overload. If the title of this article got your attention, it probably means you are experiencing the turbulent environment of overwhelm and change that many companies of all sizes are experiencing today. Do you ever feel like you are experiencing Class III, IV or V waves and you are paddling fast and hard to get through them on what you hope to be your sturdy river raft?

In the midst of the whitewater, it feels like the only way to survive is to release your raw adrenaline to produce superman’s (or woman’s) strength. But what is needed to survive (or better yet, to thrive) in the whitewater climate we are experiencing in business today is calm command of your mental, physical and emotional intelligence. Adrenaline might be sufficient when the rapids are few and far between and distanced by long smooth stretches where it is safe to be on cruise control. But in today’s business climate, whitewater is the norm and the calm waters are rare.

Today’s “whitewater” includes technology that allows us to be on 24/7, technology that can do some of the work better than people, globalization which means business opportunities and threats can come from anywhere, new generational influences entering the workforce, and on and on. It is also the disruption that constantly changes our business models, our strategies and our world as we know it. Some of the more popular examples of business “disruption” include Netflix disrupting the video rental world, Amazon disrupting the retail world, and streaming technology disrupting the music world.

For companies to thrive in our current business climate, operating from and with true commitment and accountability is the road to success. Sounds easy, but as you already know, even with the best of intentions, it is not easy to achieve. If it were, we would be making our commitments 95% of the time. Are you achieving that standard? Personally? Professionally? As an organization or team?

Most of us have very good intentions when we take on commitments or when we assign people work. We don’t intend to take on more than we could possibly do or give people more than we know they can handle (with a little stretch). But there are customers to please, deadlines to meet, new products to develop, etc., etc., etc. What is a leader to do in this untenable situation?!

Everyone knows that true commitment and accountability does not come from back to back meetings, piled on tasks and shallow commitments. But good intentions and the same old approach lead to the same old results. True commitment and accountability comes from implementing strategies that take into account that we are not just heads walking around on stick figure bodies. We cannot just analyze our way to success. True commitment and accountability comes from the realization that we are human beings with heads, hearts and bodies and that to thrive in business today, we need strategies that encompass all of these. So we are inviting leaders to engage your heads, hearts and bodies by first putting your oxygen masks on, breathing deeply and doing what it takes to operate from commitment and accountability yourselves. Then invite your employees to join you in creating this culture. We propose that you start with these four radically practical strategies:

Strategy 1: Focus on What Matters
In this day and age, we are pulled in so many directions that it seems that everything matters. However, “the everything matters” strategy will not lead to a culture of commitment and accountability. What will lead you there is determining what really does matter…to you and then to your employees.

If employees engage their hearts in their work (not just their heads) then they will be able to make strong commitments and be willing to hold themselves and others accountable. Leaders who have tied their work to their purpose, what they truly care about, tend to be inspirational leaders. If you are coming from that authentic place, it will be easier for you to help others come from that place as well. Have you ever said to yourself that you are going to do something (e.g., start working out, eating better, leaving work at a decent hour, write that article or book, etc.) and you really thought you were committed, but day in and day out you didn’t do it. Unfortunately actions speak louder than words and as it turned out, you were not truly committed. Whatever you commit to must be tied to something you truly care about or you will keep prioritizing other things. We’re sure you have noticed the difference between an employee with whom their work is tied to what they care about (e.g., learning and growth, achievement and responsibility, changing the world in a valuable way, etc.) versus the employee who is not engaged and is watching the clock and there for their paycheck. External performance is ultimately a reflection of internal commitment.

Strategy 2: Focus on Energy
This strategy seems simple enough, but in reality most of us don’t follow it. Instead we often work until we are ready to drop, fitting in one more meeting or to-do into our already full day. We don’t have time for exercise or healthy meals, but amazingly we do have time for the impromptu meetings that occur or the extra request that landed on our already full plate. We work with many leaders that are double or triple- booked in meetings, and have more on their plates than one could do even if they didn’t sleep. Which by the way is getting less and less of our time, even with the realization of how important it is to our health and our wellbeing.

Some of us use substances to keep us going – caffeine, sugar, or other substances that we think will keep us going full speed ahead. In reality, they cause us to crash and burn or at minimum lose stamina after an initial uptick in energy. And our commitments suffer because we just don’t have the energy to deal with “that” person or the creative juices to do “that” thing or the focus to truly engage the brainpower we need. Or we just run out of steam and can’t complete all of the commitments on our plate. This strategy consists of developing a “Fitness Protection Program” that will ensure your energy does not get depleted and will result in resilience, stamina and the ability to energize others. It does take some discipline to focus on our mental, physical and emotional energy, but once you do, you will find your ability to make strong commitments and meet them shows up stronger than ever.

Strategy 3: Focus on Adaptability
In our global, competitive, and disruptive world we can no longer count on old predictable ways of doing things or tried and true solutions. We need to get very comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. We need to take (well calculated) risks and we need to think out-of–the-box more than ever. In other words, we need to be fast, focused and flexible – which means teams and team members can adapt quickly to what is coming their way.

New information is coming at us all of the time, and we often have to change how we are going to meet a particular commitment to our internal or external customer. In order to operate in an uncertain or ambiguous environment, we have to discern between what we really know and what we don’t know. In uncertainty, it is easy to get distracted and unfocused. Instead, we need to put our attention on what really matters and not get constantly sidetracked by the seemingly urgent but not important.

And we have to be able to trust and use our intuitive intelligence, which takes ongoing practice. The practical application of intuitive intelligence allows us to discover new ideas, imaginative solutions and sometimes never before considered options to guide us toward success. Our intuition empowers us to be agile and effective in every situation we encounter. Focusing on adaptability is about taking on the practices that will allow you and your organization to thrive in uncertainty and change and will enable you to greatly enhance your culture of commitment and accountability.

Strategy 4: Focus on Conversations

“Organizations are linguistic structures built out of words and maintained by conversations. Even problems that aren’t strictly “communicational” – failures of mechanical systems for example – can be explained in terms of things said and not said, questions asked and not asked, conversations never begun or left uncompleted, alternate explanations not discussed.”

This is a quote by Walter Truett Anderson, a political scientist, social psychologist and author. This final strategy that Anderson points to so well in the quote above is a focus on conversations. This is where so many of our breakdowns around commitment and accountability occur in organizations. When we have effective conversations, we are present and utilizing our head, hearts and bodies. Having effective commitment conversations include making effective requests, providing only valid responses, aligning on expectations or conditions of satisfaction, and acknowledging the completion of a commitment or providing an early warning. Again, all of this seems so straightforward, however, we see numerous ineffective requests made and invalid responses given in organizations today (e.g., requests made in emails with no valid response given). We see very few early warnings provided but instead people are hoping their missed commitments won’t be noticed. And, we often observe the other components of a commitment conversation missing as well. Seemingly little things can lead to large breakdowns.

And when a breakdown in commitment does happen, accountability conversations are required and are even more rare in organizations. There are two types of accountability conversations needed: Responsible Complaints that are held one-on one, and Breakdown Conversations that are simple and to the point and held in team or staff meetings. Both of these conversations, when held effectively and consistently by leaders and team members, are culture changing.

When you bring all four of these strategies together as a leader, you will be well on your way to creating a culture of commitment and accountability utilizing a holistic approach – engaging yours and your team members heads, hearts and bodies. These strategies will serve as your “paddles” to guide you through the whitewater of change and disruption. If you are interested in thriving as an organization versus just surviving and interested in finding out more about how to effectively implement these strategies: focusing on what matters, focusing on energy, focusing on adaptability and focusing on key conversations, we at Ensemble would love to partner with you to implement these strategies in your leadership team and throughout your organization.


Podcast: Get to Know SWAE and Yuma Regional Medical Center


An Introduction to Baldrige with the Southwest Alliance for Excellence (SWAE)

Southwest Alliance for Excellence (SWAE) members Carl Herring and Karen Shepard provide an in-depth introduction to the Baldrige framework of business transformation and it’s application. With the mission to empower organizations to pursue performance excellence, improve outcomes and contribute to the economic strength of their community and state, Carl and Karen discuss how Baldrige methodology holds the potential to positively alters the foundation of many organizations. The discussion was led by David William Lee of MSSBTI.


Download this podcast: Introduction to Baldrige by SWAE


SWAE Baldrige Implementation at Yuma Regional Medical Center

The team of Yuma Regional Medical Center joins David William Lee in an animated discussion of the SWAE Baldrige Framework’s implementation. In the conversation is Robert Trenschel, President & Chief Executive Officer of Yuma Regional Medical Center, Deborah Aders, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services and Woody Martin, Chairman of the Yuma Regional Medical Center. The group discusses their application of the Southwest Alliance for Excellence (SWAE) “Baldrige” Framework for the past 5 years. Discussed is the journey through the implementation process of this business transformation module. The group expands on the execution of this framework in a uniquely high risk, high expectation environment of a hospital.


Download this podcast: Baldrige Implementation at Yuma Regional Medical Center


Podcast: Innovative Entrepreneur Josh Hebert


Born and raised in Arizona, Josh Hebert, an experienced chef and restaurant management consultant, started his career at renowned restaurant Tarbell’s in central Phoenix. After five years at the well-known restaurant, Josh’s quest for food collided with culture as he traveled the world from San Francisco to Tokyo. Shortly after returning to Arizona he opened POSH on New Year’s Eve of 2008, and has since opened Hot Noodles and Cold Sake – a ramen shop in Scottsdale with Japanese-style cuisine. Josh has skillfully blended his vast restaurant experience into a career in restaurant advisory and management.

Listen in as Josh and David Lee talk about the future of restaurants.

* This podcast was recorded prior to the passing of Anthony Bourdain.  We honor and thank Mr. Bourdain for his outstanding contributions to culture, cuisine, and the human condition.




15% of Your Operating Expenses are Vanishing Right Before Your Eyes!

Follow the money…

Human Resources (HR) is typically far from a top priority for many businesses. That is until you are short on staff or need help dealing with concerning behaviors. Yes, we all need this group for recruiting, onboarding, training, and occasionally to support performance improvement initiatives, yet in many organizations these people costs are overlooked by executives. According to Forbes, many companies consider HR a “back-office function.”1 So when HR is not visible it can quickly become a cost challenge, especially with recruiting, onboarding and training (hard costs) rising annually and the inefficiencies from re-training, lost customer relationships and missing information (soft costs) typically going unnoticed.

HR is so much more than just hiring and firing these days. The lifecycle cost associated with managing people has been labeled Human Capital Management (HCM). Studies demonstrate that the long-term impact measured from not effectively hiring, maintaining employee engagement and increasing retention can easily catapult and organization to the top or bottom of their industry.

Read the full article

Non-observant People Create Risk | MSSBTI


People can be categorized in one of two ways – observant or non-observant. According to Dr. Dean Kashiwagi, it is non-observant people that cause risk and inefficiency in an organization by not looking at their surroundings to understand what they should. They collect too much data to help make decisions, thus creating risk in their organization. So, how do you minimize risk created by non-observant people?

In this podcast, Dr. Kashiwagi and David Lee discuss and debate this unique and controversial perspective.


Dean T. Kashiwagi, PhD, PE

IFMA Fellow, Director, Professor, Professional Engineer

Dr. Kashiwagi is the Director of Kashiwagi Solution Model Inc., a worldwide leader in improving facility/project performance and efficiency. Dr. Kashiwagi has developed a “hands off” approach to managing contractors or vendors in any industry. His concept is contrary to traditional price-driven procurement. The technology has been tested 1800+ times totaling $6.6 Billion ($4.4 Billion in construction projects and $2.2B in non-construction projects) with a 98% success rate since 1994 in 7 different countries and 32 states.

Professor Kashiwagi is the author of the Information Measurement Theory (IMT) and the Best Value Approach (BVA). He was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award in 2008 through which he is took the PIPS management technology to the University of Botswana in Africa and helped transform a “research based” graduate program in project management. His work is also being tested in the Netherlands (on a $1.3B infrastructure project) and in Malaysia.

Prior to joining KSM Inc., Dr. Dean was the director of the Performance Based Studies Research Group, a professor at Arizona State University, Design/Project Engineer, Project Manager, Educator, and Researcher for the US Air Force during his 14-year tour.  KSM Inc.

Source link

The turn around of Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona


With nearly three decades of experience working in the thrift industry, Tim O’Neal has spent the past 18 years focused on the mission of fighting unemployment in the state of Arizona. When O’Neal was brought on with Goodwill of Central Arizona, the organization was in serious financial trouble and at risk of having its membership removed by Goodwill Industries International.

O’Neal’s arrival marked a turning point in the 70-year history of the organization, and his leadership was instrumental in keeping the organization running by increasing retail operations by 3000 percent during his tenure as the Vice President of Retail Operations

During this Podcast, we discuss the transformation and growth of Goodwill of Arizona into one of the top 3 Goodwill organizations in the world.

If you would like a tour of Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona’s facilities contact Tim at





MSS Business Transformation Advisory is a leading provider of business transformation solutions focusing on strategic, operational, organizational, and digital transformation through our strategic advisory services, and educational offerings and thought leadership platforms.

Source link

Webinar: Accelerating High Performance Team Development

Accelerating High Performance Team Development utilizes an easy-to-understand 3D visual called Team Mapping that represents organizational relationships and identifies opportunities to improve in the areas of Communication, Cooperation, and Leadership and Decision Making.

See first-hand how Team Mapping works as MSSBTI Executive Director David Lee reviews a recent client Case Study and covers the benefits of Team Mapping, how it works, and the 3D software utilized.

This is a great opportunity to get an up-close look at how Team Mapping works and how it can benefit your team.  Learn more about Accelerated Programs and High Performance Team Development.




Top 5 Cloud Trends

Cloud technologies has been a buzz word for more than a decade ever since Amazon started selling their in-house, web-based service platform that was used to support their own internet sales site. They were able to package the technology, market it and turned it into a profitable solution that allowed companies to take advantage of large scale technologies without the upfront costs to build their own datacenters. Since then, cloud technologies have evolved quickly as a mainstay in our ever-evolving technological world.

New, billion-dollar companies such as AirBnB and Uber have capitalized from this trend by utilizing cloud-based infrastructure to increase reliability while decreasing costs. In April of 2018, GoDaddy announced it was moving a vast majority of their current infrastructure to AWS.

Link to the full article here

Are You Ready for Analytics? 3 Aspects to Your Organization’s Analytics Maturity

In the previous article, we talked about the importance of a business/outcome-driven mindset to derive value out of your data and introduced the “Question-to-Value” approach. So, are you ready now for analytics? It is a critical exercise to assess your readiness before launching the actual effort. In this article I will share the three components for evaluating the maturity of your analytics: technology, business competency and culture.

With all the hype around data and analytics, it is nearly impossible to ignore it as a leader. If you are reading this article, you are most likely seeking the answer for: Am I (Is My Organization) Ready for Analytics?

Read the complete article here

Advanced Analytics: 5 Steps to Becoming an Intelligent Organization

No other recent trend has created as much buzz as big data and analytics, especially within the C-suite. By analyzing its data in a structured and smart way, an organization becomes “intelligent” and “insight-driven”, giving it a competitive advantage. This workshop, 5 Steps to Becoming an Intelligent Organization, addresses the most common questions and concerns leaders have when considering launching big data and analytics efforts in their organizations, including:

  • Analytics can create new opportunities and disrupt entire industries; but where and how exactly it can create value?
  • What are the building blocks for launching analytics efforts? I need Analytics 101.
  • Is my organization mature enough for analytics? What are the factors to evaluate? Is there a practical way to assess my maturity for analytics?
  • What are the ways to organize an analytics operating model? Which one is the best suited for my organization?
  • What are some common pitfalls on the journey to analytics? How can I avoid detouring and head straight to business values?
  • Is cultivating a data-driven culture in my organization, as embedding analytics, as much about change management as it is about data science?

The workshop will address all these questions, and more, through lecture, case study, discussion, hands-on assessment, structured brainstorming and other creative techniques. It engages the audiences in an immersive learning environment and inspires them to achieve customized action plans for their organizations.

This is a highly interactive and motivating 1.5-day workshop packed with everything you need to know about analytics as a leader; and up to 5 hours of post-workshop follow-up are included. Moreover, it is also a great social opportunity to meet peer leaders in similar situations as you through the included meet-n-greet breakfast, lunch, coffee breaks, and happy hour.

Lu Hao, PhD, is an enthusiastic data scientist and management consultant who specializes in applying data science under business context to generate real values. She has worked with clients in various domains on data and analytics initiatives. Her deep understanding of the misconceptions, struggles and needs of analytics from first-hand, client-facing experience has motivated her to develop this workshop to help guide leaders through the vast mist around analytics to shore as a truly intelligent organization driven by insights from data.

To learn more about Becoming an Intelligent Organization, contact MSSBTI at 602-387-2100 or

Program Audience

  • Enterprise leaders and their teams
  • Executives in strategy and organizational transformation
  • Executives/directors for analytics practice
  • Senior leaders for teams in transitions to a more data-driven culture
  • Executive-level consultancy professionals


  • 1.5-day workshop
  • 5 hours post-workshop follow-up

Expected Outcomes

  • Achieve a thorough understanding of what analytics means for your organization
  • Complete a practical assessment of your organization’s analytics maturity
  • Create action plans and roadmap for your organization’s analytics efforts
  • Identify the best-suited business operating model for analytics
  • Diagnose your organization’s barrier and pain points on the analytics journey
  • Gain the momentum to jump-start your organization’s analytics journey


  • All workshops can be performed at MSSBTI facilities in Central Phoenix, AZ or onsite at the client location

See all workshops offered through MSSBTI