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  • Category Archives: Organizational Transformation

    Planning Your Transformation Journey

    Two summers ago, my family and I went on a backpacking trip in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.  The trip started as a potential idea, then we did a large amount of research to determine the most interesting trails to hike, and we mapped out a path.  We created a packing list and determined what backpacking and camping gear we already owned and what we needed to buy or rent.  We planned our route and the distance we would travel each day, so we could plan where we would stay.  As the trip grew closer, we had to change direction and find another location to hike, due to weather and a problem with bears becoming too comfortable around humans.  We had two objectives for our trip: have a great time as a family and hike two days along the Hoh River trail and then head back out for the remaining two days.  This ensured we were able to stop and camp at specific locations along the way.  Because we planned ahead it paid off and we had an awesome family vacation.

    Planning, including planning for a business transformation, does not guarantee success. An example of failed transformation is the American automobile manufacturer.  They were unable to distinguish their brand during a highly competitive environment against foreign car companies who forced cost and fuel efficiency battles.  Their transformation methodology focused on cutting costs but resulted in brand confusion.

    In summary, enterprise transformation is no longer only about changing or improving offerings. Delivering new offerings is only one level of change. Balancing offerings to adapt to market perceptions and economic/market changes is a more important strategic imperative.

    Similarly, when your company embarks on a major transformation, you will want to plan for the ultimate change that will take place, and the impact to the employees.  The steps are very similar:

    • Decide to begin a transformation
    • Plan the steps to complete the transformation
    • Ensure you have the right tools to succeed & plan for contingencies
    • Bring the employees along on the journey so they will want to be a part of the ultimate accomplishment

    Planning your transformation journey

    Decide to begin a transformation

    Similar to the decision to embark on a family adventure, your company may be contemplating a transformation. What drives change? Your organization may be facing competition, a need to comply with regulations, customers who demand a more efficient/effective user experience, or several other motivations to initiate a transformation in your organizational processes: both internal, and/or external. When making this decision, there are several factors to consider to ensure success, and it is best to take a structured approach when attempting something of this magnitude.

    Plan the steps to complete the transformation

    Comparable to the preparation of our backpacking journey, you must plan for an organizational transformation. Prior to planning the steps to complete transformation, you need to set objectives. It is critical to understand your organization’s objectives, define the milestones, and recognize when you have achieved these objectives. This phase is key to reinforcing and sustaining the transformation itself. You need to determine the outcome you are trying to achieve. If you don’t know where you are going, you can get into trouble. Similarly, during our trip, if we didn’t follow the map and reach our daily destinations, we would not have had a place to setup camp. There is a difference between hike lasting a few days in Washington State, and climbing Mount Everest. If want to see a more extreme example of how a Mount Everest summit journey compares to business transformation, please see a related article Surviving the Business Transformation Death Zone.

    Once you have set your objectives, you need to plan the steps to meet them. To do this, you will need to anticipate the upcoming change, facilitate the steps needed to complete the change, and create an ‘agenda for action’ (per Samuel Bacharach, Professor, School of Industrial Labor Relations, Cornell University (McKelvey-Grant Professor in the department of Organizational Behavior at Cornell University’s ILR School)).

    When creating the agenda, determine the path you want to take, like mapping out the trail in our family backpacking adventure. Determine the changes, priorities and path to transformation. As part of that plan, you need to become aware of your organization landscape, and if there are any potential roadblocks or resistance throughout the organization. It is helpful to provide communication throughout the process so people at all levels of the organization feel they are a part of the change, and understand their associated role.

    When planning your journey to transformation, you will need to include steps for all levels of the organization. It is important to consider the impact on your peers, at the executive level, as well as your strategic vision. You and your executive peer group are a key part of the plan, driving the change from the top, down. In addition, you will need to be aware of the effect the change will have on the mid-level and low-level personnel in your organization. Based on this, your plan should include tactical and functional aspects, so people in those roles in the company, feel included and see the value of the change.

    Ensure you have the right tools to succeed & plan for contingencies

    As you need to ensure you have the appropriate items in your packing list and know the route you will follow on an outdoor expedition, you need to plan for this transition, including potential options in case the path diverges from the original idea. Once you have developed your agenda and plan of action, you want to be sure you have the correct tools to lead this transformation. Plan for your desired route from the current to future state, but ensure you have included contingencies for opposition, and how to gain the trust and acceptance of those who may not be initially on board with the changes. Survey your organization to determine if there is any potential resistance to the transformation. Based on the results, plan for these potential roadblocks along the way.

    Prosci® conducted a survey in 2015, to determine the most prevalent reasons for resistance to change by employees. They include:

    • Lack of Awareness
    • Change-specific Resistance – additional work anticipated, lack of incentives, etc.
    • Change Saturation – too many changes at once and past failures
    • Fear – fear of losing their job, and fear of the unknown
    • Lack of Support from management or leadership

    Develop a communication and resistance plan at the beginning of the project, and constantly revisit that plan to adjust it as needed. Become acutely aware of your surroundings to develop a first-hand view of how people are reacting to the changes, as the project progresses. This way you will be able to identify and address any resistance as it arises.

    reasons employees resist change

    Plan to bring the employees along on the journey

    As we researched and planned for our trip, we found pictures of the beautiful landscape we would be exploring along the way. This helped to pique our interest and build our enthusiasm for the adventure. In this same manner, to improve your chances for success, you will need to get your team excited about the transformation and its benefits. Shaul Oreg (associate professor of organizational behavior at the School of Business Administration of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, currently on Sabbatical at Cornell University) has done a lot of research on dispositional resistance to change. He has determined people react differently to change based on their personality. Some people are more comfortable with routines, and others shy away from the daily habits. They may also react favorably or unfavorably, based on their comfort level. Per Shaul, “Another aspect is about people’s cognitive rigidity or a form of stubbornness…explains why some people are more resistant to change than others.” These characteristics of dispositional resistance to change determine if people will be receptive or oppositional to change. It is critical to keep this in mind when embarking on a change initiative.

    Once people realize you are considering the impact of the change on them, and you work to inform them, give them the tools to succeed, and address their concerns in different ways, they should be more willing to actively participate in the change activities.

    With all our pre-planning for our backpacking trip, we were prepared for all types of weather, and had a great time in beautiful surroundings, growing closer as a family. Similarly, when you are planning the steps to complete a transformation in your organization, you should use a similar plan of action. It is important to keep in mind same approach we used when planning our family trip:

    • Plan the steps to complete the transformation
    • Ensure you have the right tools to succeed & plan for contingencies
    • Plan to bring the employees along on the journey so they will want to be a part of the ultimate accomplishment

    If you follow these guidelines, you will increase your chances of success and reduce the chances of being another failed statistic.


    10 Red Flags That Your Change Management Program is Poor

    One of the greatest challenges of helping organizations with Change Management is that they often believe they are already doing it. After all, if you have a good leadership team that communicates with employees, they must be capable of leading change.

    But when you dig down and ask the leaders what they are doing to ensure their organization is prepared for and executing change strategies, we often find clear indications either they do not truly grasp change management, they do not understand the risks, or that their program is not robust enough for to handle the change.

    Here are some of the top red flags that indicate a poor application of change management:

    Red Flag #1 – We are doing change management, we have a communications plan: One of the most common red flags, this answer is indicative of two potential issues.

    1. The organization may be mistaking communications for Change Management. True, communications is a primary output (and input) to the process but it does not stand alone. A lot has to happen to ensure it is effective.
    2. Perhaps more importantly, a Change Management communications plan is vastly different than what most communication departments are used to creating. Communications departments, often part of marketing or public relations, are most often used to communicate broad corporate messaging. Change Management is about driving communications to the individual level. This means coordinating across possibly large numbers of divisions, groups, and functions and rallying the management to aid in the process while ensuring that feedback is being collected and reported back to the Change Management team. This is a plan that communications departments are not typically prepared to develop or staffed to carry out.

    Red Flag #2 – We are doing change management, we have a training plan: Another common red flag that will often turn up and indicates the potential for two more issues:

    1. Here again, we have an indication that leadership is mistaking training for Change Management. Training is a part of the process to ensure that people have the knowledge they need to make a change. That does not mean they have agreed to the change or have adopted the change. Change management ensures that people not only are capable of making a change but willing.
    2. Another issue is that the organization is relying on the Change Management team to deliver training. This is a common error that can be catastrophic. In most cases, an SME on the change should deliver the content and ensure it is understood. The role of the change manager is to make sure the training is delivered well, that logistics are managed, and that the training has been effective. Relying on Change Management to be experts in the specific change is too much to ask (unless the change is implementing Change Management).

    Red Flag #3 – We have hired a change manager: This is typically a good sign that shows some enlightenment from leadership, but it also rings a major alarm bell that requires a number of follow up questions:

    1. Is the change manager experienced? Often, we will find that the change manager is a person who has been reassigned from a department without training or previous experience. This means a huge ramp up time and a lot of mistakes that could be avoided by hiring an experienced person or consultant.
    2. Is the change manager also the project manager? These are different disciplines requiring different skill sets and with potentially competing aims. Each is also a large amount of work. Only a rare person can manage both simultaneously.
    3. Is the change manager solely responsible for executing change management or do they have the authority and resources to implement throughout the organization? If by having a change manager, we think the process is covered, we have a major problem.
    4. How many changes is this change manager in charge of? Often this becomes a role that is quickly overwhelmed and ends up managing reporting rather than actually implementing change management. The result is reporting failure to make changes.
    5. All of the above are at issue: This is so often the case and indicates a looming catastrophe.

    Red Flag #4 We have Change Management as part of our project team: This is not necessarily a problem. It depends on the structure. If the Change Management is subservient to a project leader, then the messages that need to be heard by leadership are often suppressed or watered down. Ideally, Change Management is at least at the same level of the project lead and has direct access to the leadership. The change manager’s role is to ensure that leadership knows the issues and helps coach them on how to mitigate them. They cannot be required to work through a funnel and expected to achieve results.

    Red Flag #5 Change management is part of Human Resources (or any functional area): Where the change management function lies is not necessarily the issue here. Since change management focuses on the people side of change, HR may seem like a logical fit. It may also be in operations, innovation, or other change related areas where people are the focus. What we would seek to understand is whether the function Change Management reports to is also integral to the part of the organization where the change is happening. Is the functional area engaged in the project planning and implementation, do they have change management training, and do they have access direct to leadership that is sponsoring the change? If the answer to any of these questions is “no” then the structure needs to be reassessed.

    Red Flag #6 – Everyone supports the change: This one always makes me shake my head because it is never true. I remember a particular client who announced that they were doing a system upgrade at their global meeting and the announcement received a standing ovation. The reaction convinced them that everyone was on board. “We don’t need a lot of Change Management,” they said, “Everyone supports the change.” Two years later they were staring at major implementation issues due to resistance, low adoption, low utilization and short timelines. Even assuming that people are genuine in their initial support for a future state, resistance can grow over time as people learn more and are affected by the change. Anticipating and monitoring resistance is a key activity of Change Management to make sure that support is maintained.

    Red Flag #7 – The change is a small one, we don’t need change management: This can be true if the change is entirely seamless and no people are affected. In any other case, it is worth the investment even on small changes to make an assessment of the change implications, how disruptive it is, and where resistance may occur to scale your change management efforts accordingly. The organization is making an investment and such an assessment is good due diligence.

    Red Flag #8 – We have assigned a sponsor: This answer is one of the scariest I get. There is a lot of research that shows that without proper sponsorship changes will fail to meet objectives. Often, we will find that the leader who conceived of the change is not the sponsor but rather has assigned an underling. This is major red flag for several reasons:

    1. The leader may have decided to distance himself from the change and created an option not to be responsible for results. Even if this is not the case, the perception is can be devasting to the process.
    2. The person assigned may not have the traits (influence, knowledge, skills, commitment, etc.) to be a good sponsor. This means a major learning curve is in front of her.
    3. The person assigned must have the standing to lead the change particularly with other leadership, the authority to remove roadblocks to the change, and to adapt the strategy as necessary. If not, the resistance they encounter may be insurmountable.

    Red Flag #9 – We have several sponsors: Oi… this is even worse than assigning a sponsor. Now we assume that a group is leading the change and is cohesive in their level of agreement and approach. While there are strong cases for a coalition of sponsors, driving a change without a primary sponsor, leads down long winding roads of dysfunction, finger pointing, miscommunication and passive resistance.

    Red Flag #10 – We will focus on Sustainability at a later stage: Many practitioners of change will still look at the process as linear and consider how to sustain the change only after the initial phases or even toward the end of the project. Sustainability starts at the outset when creating the change strategy or early in the development of the future state itself. Determining expected outcomes, understanding how to measure against those outcomes, developing how to report progress to the organization, and identifying the meaning of outcomes at the individuals at all levels are all items that should occur at or near the beginning and should be carried out throughout the change process. If your team has not thought about sustainability early, this is a huge red flag that they do not have a proper understanding of change management.

    Over the last decade or so, change management as a discipline has become an expectation of organizations that want to succeed with their investments. That does not mean, however, that everyone has an equal understanding of how it should be implemented. By understanding the red flags, leaders can identify if they need specialized or outside assistance from people who have experience driving the change process. Leaders can also look at what they expect of themselves. If you are leading an organizational change and one or more of these red flags rings true to you, it makes sense to take a step back and do a quick assessment of your efforts. The organization is a making an investment in the project you are leading. It is your responsibility to see that every effort is made to see the return on investment is realized.

    Note: This article focuses on Change Management for a single intervention. All trends indicate that change is now a constant and that a sustainable competitive advantage can be had for organizations that make leading change part of their DNA. This strategy is covered in a number of other articles including:

    Change Management and the Pizza Principle
    The Perils of Change Saturation and Steps to Mitigate Your Risk
    Employee Passion through Transformational Change
    3 Ways Teams Will Die Organizational Deaths and a Solution
    The Energizing Myth: The Greatest Tool of Transformational Leaders

    The Nuclear Way: Submarine Leadership Challenges

    How would you adjust to transferring from a self contained organization with a command and control leadership style to one with a distributed leadership style? How would you adapt? How would you prepare? And how would you be received?

    This is exactly what happened to me when I reported to be the Chief Engineer onboard the USS Santa Fe, a fast-attack, nuclear submarine based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

    At this point in my career, I had been in the Navy for over 8 years, passed numerous training schools, exams and interviews on submarining and nuclear power, but had not stepped foot on a submarine in over 3 years. In between submarine assignments, the Navy sends officers to a wide variety of shore assignments where we are able to recharge and experience other areas of the military before heading back to an operational submarine. In my previous submarine assignment, I was a division officer in charge of 15 sailors. Now, I was going back as a department head and would be the third highest-ranking officer onboard. It was going to be a tremendous responsibility and by far the most challenging, rewarding, and educational job I have had. While the Navy had done a lot to ensure I was ready for this assignment, a lot had changed since the last time I was onboard a submarine and one of the biggest differences was leadership style.

    A submarine’s organizational structure is similar to many other organizations. The diagram below outlines our organizational structure and common business equivalents.

    In addition to running a division or department, officers are responsible for standing watch. This consists of various watch stations across the boat where each officer or sailor is responsible for specific operations for 8 hours a day while the ship is underway. For me, standing watch meant being the Officer of the Decks (OOD). As OOD I was the Captain’s direct representative –responsible to drive and fight the ship while on mission with the support of nearly 30 watch standers across the submarine. While learning to implement submarine tactics as OOD is challenging, learning to consistently lead a team of 30 sailors and keep them engaged and proficient was far more difficult. This is where the shift in leadership style from command and control to distributive pays off.

    During my 3 years away from submarining the leadership philosophy had changed significantly. In late 2012 through early 2013 the submarine force dealt with a series of significant mishaps, a few of which resulted in collisions, millions of dollars in repairs and multiple years in lost operational time. Extensive investigations revealed cultural problems, among other issues, as leading

    contributors for these mishaps. Many of these leadership styles were command-and-control oriented where complete trust was placed in the senior officers with little room for backup or recommendations from lower level sailors. This led to poor team dynamics and organization throughout the submarine. As a result of these investigations, the submarine force shifted its leadership training to teach officers a more distributive leadership style.

    The education level of sailors entering the Navy was also a contributing factor. Many of the sailors I worked with had college degrees and most had at least some college experience. This, in addition to the nearly 18 months of training that all nuclear operators receive prior to assignment, meant that sailors needed and desired to be engaged and contribute to the overall mission of the submarine. Most were motivated by feeling that they contributed to the team and affected positive change rather than by money or awards. Ensuring that leaders harnessed this energy and prevented stagnation within the team was a large driver for the Navy’s shift in leadership style.

    Under the previous command-and-control leadership style, officers are taught to take charge – “You are in charge, people look to you for the expertise and direction.” In the old style, for example, an officer may have received a course change recommendation from a junior sailor and, rather than following the recommendation exactly, the officer would demonstrate proper decision-making ability by coming up with a better course. This was thought to show proper command-and-control to ensure everyone respected the officer’s decision. However, it had the unintended consequence of undermining recommendations from the crew, which led to many crewmembers shutting down—knowing their recommendations would not be utilized.

    The same went for managing a department of over 70 sailors. In my job as Chief Engineer, I was responsible for the creation of the training schedules, maintenance plans and operational plans implemented by the engineering department. In my previous tour, the Chief Engineer personally developed all these plans and the junior officers and sailors carried out his direction. While it was less work for the mid-level managers, it also reduced our buy-in with decisions and led to decreased creative thinking for solving issues. In addition, it undermined the ability and morale of other sailors and officers onboard who felt that they had a lot to contribute and could have provided many good ideas about how to run the ship.

    When I walked onboard to relieve as Chief Engineer in my new role, I noticed a stark change in the leadership styles onboard and saw an increased level of responsibility at lower levels. While it was ultimately my responsibility to run the Engineering department or drive the ship while standing watch, I received many more recommendations from junior sailors who were not afraid to give their opinion. No longer was the OOD alone trying to make decisions with minimal input from the team. Frequently, I did not have the best answer, but generally knew someone on my team who did. I started to brief my watch team about what I was planning, what information I needed and possible decisions I would have to make. Sometimes, these briefs would be long and stream-of-consciousness like, but it kept everyone on the same page and all of the watch standers knew what I was thinking and the decisions of the team. Over time, informed recommendations were starting to pour in to me from all members of the team. Watch team members were sharing recommendations backed up by a thought process, known information and a timeline for action. These decision-making loops would range in length from a few seconds in highly stressful missions to hours, or even days, as we sought to best position the submarine for long-term missions. The active participation of the watch team led to increased commitment and engagement from sailors at every level.

    When entering my job as Chief Engineer, I was accustomed to a command-and-control leadership style where the person in charge came up with training plans, attempted to deconflict maintenance items and developed process improvement with little to no input from others. While some of the actions done in this manner were effective, I would frequently get push back from team members who had other, often better ideas. Top down driven plans received more opposition and many team members quickly voiced their frustration with their lack of input into the overall direction of the department. In order to incorporate and synthesize different ideas across the department, I quickly adapted and changed to a distributed leadership style. In meetings, I started by posing a question such as “how can we get better at this maintenance process”. Many had different and better ideas than I would have come up with on my own and we attempted to utilize these ideas—leading to a sense of ownership and responsibility to fix problems from the bottom up. The key here was to quickly show everyone on the team that the organization was utilizing recommendations based on their quality rather than the position of the individual who recommended it.

    Overall, the shift within the submarine force from directive to distributed leadership has led to greater engagement from crew members who feel their ideas could be implemented organization-wide. This led to better team dynamics and has allowed a very complex, high paced and highly technical environment to move more smoothly. Having a shift of this magnitude within the Navy is a daunting task, since it can takes years to institute a change in leadership training and practice. Unlike the corporate world, new middle and upper level managers are not brought in from the outside. The Navy must work with the leaders they have in the pipeline to institute this change. Sometimes, changes receive strong pushback from those who have spent their careers in a command-and-control environment. Utilizing strong champions for a policy change at different levels of the organization is key to initiating the policy and maintaining the new, distributed leadership style.

    Using the distributed leadership mentality within a small team or large organizations can greatly increase the morale, contribution and engagement from all members—ultimately leading to better results from the entire team. The key takeaways that I gained from my change in leadership style in my job as Chief Engineer are:

    1. Don’t give your opinion or decision about a certain issue or problem initially. This may cause some to simply fall in line behind your decision due to your seniority within the organization, or automatically oppose the idea because of the same reason. Instead, pose the question or problem and let the team have an open discussion without your initial influence.
    2. Help frame the reference of the problem and define different directions the team could take based on the conversations. It is ok to have “stream of consciousness” discussions with the team—letting them know what information you have, what information you need and different possible directions the team could take while allowing leeway for alternative solutions.
    3. If someone expresses passion about solving a problem, it is generally better to let them implement it with supervision. While it is tempting to try and put your mark on it or tweak it based on your ideas, it helps to let them solve it. Even if it may not be as effective as one of your ideas, it will show the team you are willing to listen and implement their ideas fully. This will increase engagement and contribution from all team members, now that they know they will be heard.
    4. Give small corrections early, if necessary. Do not wait until the very end to sit down with a team member and provide any corrections that may be required. Nothing will frustrate them more than putting a lot of effort into solving a problem than having to go back and rework something that could have been solved earlier in the process and prevented a lot of rework.

    If implemented correctly within your organization, this can free up a lot of your time as a manager and increase the productivity of the team.


    Podcast: Navigating the Current of Decentralizing Leadership in a Nuclear Sub


    Paul Colwell, a dynamic and collaborative leader in high stress and highly technical environments, meets with Podcast host David Lee. Discussed in this podcast is Colwell’s experience as a Naval Nuclear Submarine Officer and the contrasting styles of leadership he experienced from a centralized submarine to de-centralized one. Colwell examines his direct exposure with the Navy’s decision to elevate to a Responsive, adaptive leadership environment that encourages flexibility fit for unpredictable conditions.  This shift allowed Colwell to experience the interworkings of a truly Responsive organization in the high-risk environment of a Nuclear Submarine.

    The book “Turn the Ship Around” by Captain David Marquet is discussed as well as Colwell’s personal experiences that relate to the book’s concepts. In “Turn the Ship Around” Captain David Marquet imagines a workplace where everyone engages and contributes their full intellectual capacity, a place where people are healthier and happier because they have more control over their work—a place where everyone is a leader. Colwell expands on his similar experience with the Responsive environment brought into the Naval Forces. (View for more.)



    Download this podcast: Navigating the Current of Decentralizing Leadership in a Nuclear Sub


    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.




    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.




    Podcast: From Nearly Turned Out to Successfully Turned Around with Tim O’Neal


    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





    Transforming Talent Acquisition

    Successful companies are transforming the way that they assess and acquire their leaders to ensure a stronger talent base and deliver better business results. This can be achieved through a disciplined process that will bring about demonstrable business results and enable long-term organizational advances.

    Claudio F. Miers has dedicated his career to the Human Capital and Organizational Development arena and has managed complex, diverse international organizations through intense growth, change and culture transformation, including Vice President of Organizational Transformation at Emerson Automation Solutions.

    Walter U. Baker has over 25 years’ professional experience in advising corporate executives on attracting top tier talent to key leadership positions vital to the success of their company. Walter has extensive retained executive search experience. Throughout his career, Walter has successfully partnered with multiple global organizations to develop and execute reality based recruitment strategies to fill client leadership positions with “A” level talent.

    Learn more about Transforming Talent Acquisition.  Contact MSSBTI at 602-387-2100 or

    The Transforming Talent Acquisition workshop looks at the talent acquisition process as an investment. In many cases, it is the most critical investment a company must make in support of its business strategy. We will examine the Talent Acquisition Process from A to Z, starting with a thorough understanding of what kind of talent mix is needed to achieve the business goals, and go all the way to ensure the brought-in talent will stay and prosper with the organization.

    Another key element is the tracking of results, measuring the return on the talent acquisition investment, and truly linking it to the bottom line.

    Expectations and Goals

    • Stronger core teams that deliver better business results
    • People that understand and are ready to initiate and execute your business strategy, addressing the challenges head-on

    Workshop Modules

    • Ensuring Business Alignment
    • Linking the Talent Strategy to the Business Plans
    • Implementing and Executing the Talent Acquisition Strategy
    • Monitoring Talent Acquisition Project Outcomes
    • Measuring Talent Acquisition ROI
    • Participants will develop a specific set of recommendations for their organizations in the format of a customized Talent Acquisition Playbook


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

    Sponsor Briefing

    Active and visible sponsorship is the number one contributor to overall project success. This Sponsor Briefing program provides the “what” and “why” of change management in terms that resonate with senior leaders; what change management is and its critical connection with achieving business results. This program then advises senior leaders of their role in the change process as identified in over fifteen years of best practices research. Sponsors will emerge better equipped to effectively lead change and strategically position their projects for success.

    Program Length

    • 4-6 hour briefing


    • Executives and senior leaders that sponsor change

    Ideal size

    • 10 participants

    Success Factors

    • Sponsorship
    • Pre-program data collection
    • Managed Expectations

    For more information about the Sponsor Briefing program, contact us at 602-387-2100 or  Workshop can be performed at MSSBTI facilities in Central Phoenix, AZ or onsite at the client location.

    3 Ways Teams Will Die Organizational Deaths and a Solution

    Sadly, I’ve watched many centralized change teams (e.g., Lean Offices, Agile Groups, Morale Committees) die organizational deaths. Much of the suffering prior to their demises has been at their own hands, though I doubt they would ever see it that way. Hence, I offer my perspective as another version of the story that may prompt self-reflection and learning. I’ll focus on three main ways that a change team dies, which include coercion, lag time and a focus on self. Afterwards, I will offer a potential solution of implementing employee empowerment, while minimizing business risk.

    They drive people. When you use some form of coercion (e.g., orders, fear of negative consequences, removal or application of positive consequences) to compel others to change, you are draining away from them and yourself some amount of energy. This slow-but-steady drain eventually depletes either the change team or their victims (er, clients). This drain usually goes unnoticed until a leader of one of the client organizations takes action to force a senior leader above the change team to cancel their work. Many meetings are held to question what, if any, value the change team is providing. Eventually, the senior leader gives in, saddened by the situation, but powerless to disagree. A central change team can save itself by switching to driving change, choosing this change (obviously) and clearing the obstacles for others to choose it to. By removing themselves from driving people, they will have removed a huge obstacle for their clients.

    Lag Time
    They lag behind the clients they purport to serve. When a central change group is created, the presumption is that they are the thought-leading, practice-leading experts who can, with their full time devoted to the change work, pull the entire organization along on their knowledge and experience. Yet, many central change teams may start out ahead of some of their clients, but usually aren’t out ahead of all them. Swelled with the pride of their new organization, the change teams can fall into a trap of arrogance, and disconnect from the thought and practice-leading clients and begin to create “the standard” way of doing the work, which is often more theoretical than practical, and often lags the learning that the clients are doing in the field. As time progresses, the gap between the leaders and the central organization grows, as the leaders are still driving for results and the central is driving for scalable, controllable models (one size training, one process implementations). When the gap gets big enough, or the tug of their lagging standard gets big enough, the leaders will again appeal to the senior leaders to choose between the results they are getting for the organization or the overhead of the centralized team, which failed to help the leading group get any better, faster, or cheaper. A central team can save itself if it rediscovers its humility and links itself to the leaders in a driving change way of obstacle removal and pushing out the edges of organizational limits.

    Focus on Self
    They focus on their program, versus on their clients or their results. When I ask a central change team, what are you working on, and all they tell me is about internal meetings, internal plans, and internal processes, I know they are slowly dying. Their attention has shifted from their clients and client results to themselves and their results (or activities often) and with this shift they have lost the focus they need to deliver on the reason they were created: results. They can save themselves if they shift their time together to figuring out how they can faster support their clients and remove the obstacles their clients have identified or ratified.

    There are many great people in the world doing their very best to drive implementations of worthy changes and methods, however they continue to coerce, lag on their commitments and focus on self. All of these problems are related to the business struggle with how to enact empowerment on their projects. Utilizing a simple framework to help have an effective conversation about how to integrate empowerment with development and teamwork can curb many of the above problems. For some business professionals this can be known as tollgates or clip rates. Usually used when it comes to finances, there are budgetary limits set for decision making that an individual can do on their own before they require authorization. Once the budgetary limit goes over that amount, there must be additional authorizations provided to make the decision.

    The Authorization Tiers Framework
    Another simple solution is referred to as the Authorization Tiers Framework (see image below). Merging my work and David Marquet’s Ladder of Leadership, the Authorization Tiers Framework debuted publicly at the New Trends in Project Management (NTPM) Conference for Project Management Institute (PMI) in Gdansk, Poland. I keynoted on April 25, 2017 and shared how anyone can use the authorization tiers to increase their opportunity to thrive in complex environments. For the full presentation slides click here.

    Maximizing employee empowerment can be difficult because it puts the business at risk, but no business can afford to micromanage all of their employees. I hope that by identifying the will help you see ways they can avoid common problems and keep themselves serving their clients well for years to come. By using the Authorization Tiers Framework, you may generate the employee empowerment that your employees have always hoped for.

    April’s book, Everyone is a Change Agent, is available on Amazon.