Archive for Change Management

Thoroughly Uncommon Common Sense.

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commonsense

Everyday people are witnessed doing what appears to us as totally out of the realm of what you or I might call sensible.

Is There Such a Thing as Common Sense?

From one’s own view point a solution might look simple because the other person just needs to apply some “common” sense. Unfortunately common sense only consists of the knowledge we have managed to acquire to the point where we need it! For example, an experienced driver will slow for a corner and accelerate through the turn. The inexperienced driver will tend to enter the turn at speed and break in the turn. To the experienced driver the inexperienced driver has no common sense. Add a race driver and he will assess his speed, visualize the line he wants his vehicle to travel and through a combination of braking and accelerating will minimize deceleration and maximize acceleration. The race driver will view the other drivers as having no “common” sense based on the knowledge the race driver has acquired.

It Starts With Common Knowledge

In effect, there really is no true ” common” sense just gained experience and knowledge for each individual. So it would seem common knowledge would fit as a good base for a form of common sense.

How about an example of common knowledge:

The world is flat (common knowledge) – don’t sail out of sight of land or you will fall off the edge of the world (applied common sense).

Within each persons realm of being, there are multiple sources of “knowledge” that shape the base where decisions are formed. The first time a person forgets a cast iron frying pan on the stove and they realize something is burning (sometimes the flames are a clue) the first reaction is to grab the handle and remove it from the heat. Most will get burned because they acted without considering that the handle would be too hot for an unprotected hand. Good old common sense says if the pan is hot the handle will be hot too! Sense of survival says get the pan off the heat (put out the flames if there are any). If you happen to be a child or a teen you likely were told, “Don’t touch that, it’s HOT!” And we all know a child or two who simply needed the experience themselves to believe it – ouch.

 Can Experience Get In The Way?

Insurance companies know all about experience, common knowledge, and common sense, just ask anyone who runs a golf course. When dark and scary clouds roll in, golf courses are made to blow a loud horn to signal danger and bring people in off the course, the rule is there for a reason. You see, common knowledge is…if you play outside swinging sticks of metal in the air, then the risk of getting hit by lightening increases. Easy, common knowledge, right? Unfortunately, this is where ‘experience’ can get in the way. Our common sense is so tightly tied to our own experiential knowledge that the message “It’s never happened to me before” gets in the way and finishing play often trumps the horn. The number of golfers that fail to heed the horn is significant and scary, and the insurance rates align with that information. The fact is, you won’t see a player who has been hit by lightening wait for the horn, his experience tells him to get out of there when the clouds start coming in, and chances are he’s watching them closely.

Strategic Sense

Yes, we know it’s the name of our company, but we also get asked a lot why we chose it. Well, we wouldn’t want to depend on just plain old ‘common sense’, I mean, earlier we said it doesn’t exist! Great leaders, though, they understand the value of strategic sense in all depths and breadths of decisions. A few questions to ask prior to making a decision are:

  1. What do we know and believe about this?
  2. What don’t we know?
  3. Are our common understandings really true?
  4. What experiences have we had that may shape our decision?
  5. What experiences haven’t we had that may get in the way of a good decision?

Stop for a moment to consider a big decision you have to make in life or at work. Try running it through this set of questions. Odds are, you will discover you need more data before you make your final decision, at least a wise one.

The Contemplative Leader

Companies don’t always consider the ‘contemplative leader’ as driven enough and look for the quick-answer-dynamo when promoting. The fact is, contemplative leaders are less likely to blow a cannon off into a crowd the way some dynamos might. Perhaps contemplative leaders who make good calm decisions are actually naturals at running through a filter of strategic sense.

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Walt Blackstaffe works with Golf and Ski Operations in process and procedure development, streamlining business practices and managing change, guiding them toward increased revenues and business proficiency. Walt accomplishes this through analysis, interviews, procedure review and bringing a life time of experience and passion in the recreation management industry to every engagement.

You can reach us at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

 

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Why a Journey Map Matters

When we take on a project, one of the first things we do is to lay out a journey map. We do this because it helps us tell a story, outlines where we are going, and most importantly, it outlines the stages or gates that help us know if we are making progress.

For a full change management overview of the journey, there are three specific views that will make a difference.

  1. Sponsor journey map
  2. User journey map
  3. Development (or project) journey map

Sponsor journey map

The sponsor journey map gives the sponsor an idea of what we are doing, the key dates when activities are occurring and the approval gates the sponsor will want to ensure approvals are performed. This journey map

User journey map

The user journey map is the journey the user will go through so the project team can layout the path that the user can expect to follow during an implementation. This will include informing their teams about when communications will come out, dates that will impact the users, and the implementation, training and support plans. It will give key dates and provide them will information they will need to know on the “day of” cut-over.

Development (or project) journey map

This is the journey map that allows all specialties to work with and is the most detailed. It will identify the following:

  • Phases of the project
  • Important design or decision dates
  • Specific changes that will occur and how those changes impact the business, users, or customers.

These are important items so that the specialist teams can provide the support needed for the project. Specialist teams such as training, communications, development, document managers, etc.

To truly provide a rich experience for the people being impacted by change, without a journey map they may flounder in understanding what actions to take, the key messages that need to be shared, and the plan moving forward. During a project, the journey map matters!

It is not the only thing that matters, there is a lot of work in a project that involves readiness, development and sustainability planning, but the journey map can remove a lot of headaches and help everyone see the bigger picture.

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Did your technology investment fail?

Technology solutions

Efficiency at the cost of humanity may cause more harm to a company than good. Well-designed people strategies and tactical action among teams as aligned with efficiency models, yes, but let’s not try to solve productivity with the implementation of software if people strategies have not been considered in the overall plan.

Let’s decode this from the corporate speak…

If you are going to buy the software there needs to be a plan in place for the people who use it!

Case in Point

Shared with us in a meeting this week was the sad story of an organization who indeed did buy a software solution but put no plan in place for the people who will use it. That plan would have involved the following:

  1. Communicate: Know the desired outcomes for the software and how it is intended to be used, then convey it to the people who will be using it. (Vision)
  2. Implement well: A lot of software has multi-level offerings which allow the product to scale along with your company’s growth by providing additional plugins and add-ons to increase functionality. Hire someone from the vendor site to come in and assist the project team in implementing the solution. Target specific needs and functionality to meet desired outcome. As an added change management strategy, ensure that front line users and decision makers are included in design workshops to make sure the tool is being built and rolled out to meet actual need. This will simplify the task for your IT team who are unfamiliar with the software and generate increased buy-in as teams get involved.
  3. Train: When you ask your employees to self-learn a new software, that software will not give you the bang for your buck that you were hoping for. Your team is likely too busy in their day jobs to find resources and play with the tool. Why would you want them to trade efficiency for a savings on training? Let them learn from an experienced trainer, with all the hints, tips and shortcuts provided in a day or a weekend to benefit your investment rather than the plethora of hours your team is taking away from the day-job as they navigate their way through self-tutelage.

Non-technical people often make the assumption that those who appear tech-savvy instantly know how to use all technology. This, simply, is not the case and why it is so important to provide administrators and users with training and certification courses. In addition to that, you want your team using the software in a consistent manner.

If you want to realize a decent return on your investment (ROI) from your new “efficiency” or “Client Relationship Management” tools, you need to wrap some people strategy around their use. Fail that, and you fail your expected ROI.

I laugh when someone states, “That technology was a waste of money.” When more often than not, the technology was never the problem to begin with, it was the lack of people strategy around the solution.

This version of this post was also presented on Linkedin as “Your Grand Investement and Why it Fails”

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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So, What Say You?

AwkwardHave you ever shared something out loud and it came out in such a way that you offended someone, but were not aware of the horrible impact you had? I have, and it was not until I began noticing that I was being “put in my place” over and over again, or when word began filtering back to me that it had been discussed by others.

Sadly, what was said was never meant to come off as condescending or rude, but the judgement stuck. Before someone made an effort to get to know me, to learn about my heart, before anyone even tried to cull from me the actual meaning of what I was trying to convey, the words were judged, shared, and shared again.

In the end I was made to feel ostracized and ignored. No amount of good-effort on my part will likely change the opinion I had given them with two poorly worded sentences. They will never know how much I admire their talents, their contributions to their work or how much I wish to learn from them.

The personal brand had been set, the path drawn and the relationship skewed.

My fault for not choosing my words more consciously, for allowing some things going on in my personal life to cloud my ability to say what I really meant, and for uttering sentences that poorly described what I was trying to convey.

Yes. Lesson learned, think first, and speak later.

But I have to wonder what makes us so afraid to say;

“Are you aware how what you just said made me feel? That I felt lessened by those words?”

Oh how different things might have been! How easily I could have been given an opportunity to right the sentences, to utter what I really meant. What a lovely opportunity I would have been given to build a relationship rather than be branded.

Our words matter – mine did and I must live with that. But actions matter too.

Dealing with ‘difficult people’ is never easy, but it is swiftly accomplished if you are first willing to approach the ‘difficult’ person directly.

Leadership lessons for me:

  1. What I say and how I say it matters, always.
  2. Try to address the person making uncomfortable statements first.

All of us are both easy to get along with or difficult to get along with, depending on the audience, what one is going through, or the environment in which they find themselves.

Have you ever wished you could take back words that were conveyed in a way you never meant to convey them?

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Culture Matters in M&A

ROIEvery company has their own culture – basically, the manner in which employees behave, follow common norms and interact with each other – this includes values, behaviours, assumptions, and the understanding of a common mission. The culture makes up a company’s ‘personality’. Within that, you will find teams and departments that have their own slightly different culture from the overall company culture, ‘mini’ cultures of a sort.

Typically there are many similarities between the two, although it is possible for companies with a highly competitive culture contain mini cultures of collaboration and entrepreneurial kinship. For example; where the operations are somewhat cut-throat yet the development team isolate into a unified and solid group of collaborators.

Most companies have a pretty good unwritten understanding of their own culture and with just a few questions are able to define the existing culture fairly well and then work with us to identify areas of needed growth or change. It is when companies merge or an acquisition has been made that culture becomes a significantly different conversation. Sadly, few mergers and acquisition (M&A) pre-work evaluates the differing cultures to identify risks associated with the merger or acquisition.

The greatest risks associated with bringing two companies together often lay within the strongest reasons why two companies want to join forces in the first place:

Financial – M&A selection is vital to understanding the financial benefits and possibilities due to a complimentary, formerly competitive or growth opportunity into play.

Brand Association – There are some great benefits to leveraging a solid and well-loved brand to create a stronger and more powerful company offering to the customer.

Knowledge – Picking up or combining forces to obtain or grow the technical or industry knowledge for a company, add technical competency or expand an offering based on an additional functionality desired.

All the above sounds pretty great, but what’s great on paper is not always deemed so great by the people being asked to live the change. In fact, the people with the greatest power to make or break a merger or acquisition can be middle management through to front lines and yet those areas are the most often ignored within the M&A transition plan.

Understanding cultural risk, cultural collision and people strategy are vital in making certain that large investments such as M&A actually realize their return on investment.

Transitional planning is needed right from the beginning of a merger, preparing for culture clash or shock, planning around every small change that affects the manner in which people from both organizations do their everyday work, creating a change plan that involves a solid communication strategy, all of these are vital in an M&A program.

Based on research, where does a good transitional plan begin?

  1. Organizational Culture Assessment: a system of shared assumptions, values and beliefs which govern how people behave in organizations. Evaluate each company and determine any commonalities.
  2. Evaluate the 8 Organizational Cultural Characteristics: evaluate the priority that the company values would assign to each of the following organizational characteristics.
    • Innovation – risk orientation – evaluate priority high, moderate, or low.
    • Attention to Detail – precision orientation – high, moderate, or low value?
    • Emphasis on Outcome – achievement orientation- high, moderate, or low?
    • Emphasis on People – fairness orientation – high, moderate, or low?
    • Teamwork – cohesiveness orientation – high, moderate, or low?
    • Aggressiveness – competitive orientation – high, moderate, or low?
    • Stability – maintenance orientation – high, moderate, or low?
    • Agility – change orientation – high, moderate, or low?
  3. Develop a transitional plan based on a comparison of both companies developing action items that address commonalities and friction points.

These are steps for the beginning while the purchasing company is assessing financial risk. Companies putting out money to purchase or merge with another company should understand the cultural risks of the deal. Comparing the two organizations is vital in knowing just where to begin with a transition plan.

Do you have examples of organizations that have merged and failed to do the cultural assessments and develop a solid work it into a solid transition plan?

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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(Note: 8 Organizational Culture Characteristics from Professor Roger N. Nagel at Lehigh University – our assessments and research utilizes these characteristics in addition to other organizational research.)

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A New Manager’s Guide to Honesty

LeadingFirst, a short story.

Not long ago, a team we are familiar with described their experience with a difficult manager. The frustration level was such that the core team were ready to quit.

Their issue? A lying Manager.

The team was weary, distrustful, often cranky and angry at each other, and they were beginning to unravel thread-by-thread. It was easily traced to the manner in which the manager had been handling the team.

Sadly, the issues they had went on for a number of years:

  • They were all privately told different versions of what was going on in the team.
  • The manager made promises to all of them, separately, but did not always back it up or follow it through.
  • The manager continually deflected accountability for actions by pointing in any direction but his own, including pointing up the chain or at other team members.
  • Many of the stories pitted members of the team against one another.
  • The manager promised roles to team members when that role already belonged to other team members, without using professional due process.

In addition to lying, the key ingredients to frustration were the manager’s inability to take ownership or accountability for most actions, especially anything the employees disliked or when they challenged his lack of willingness to be open about future planning.

The thing about lying is, as mentioned in a previous post Liars get caught, period, the lies are almost always found out, eventually. When a manager lies to his team, he destroys trust. Avoiding difficult situations, or conflict altogether, are as good as lying and continues to diminish trust within a team.

Ways to be an honest Manager, especially through change

Hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for moving the team forward. The manager who falls into the habit of blaming their bosses for decisions made loses the team and creates an ‘Us against Them’ environment. This can be avoided by one of the foundational principles of management, keeping the team unified and in alignment with the company strategy.

  • Take ownership of the decisions which are out of your control and made at a higher level.
  • Champion these decisions as your own and encourage your team to do the same.
  • Recognize when you are powerless to change the decision and move on professionally, even if you disagree (keep it to yourself) as you are the ambassador for the people who lead you.

Build the functional capability of the team as a team. Many a manager believes that once given the title they are empowered to make all the decisions and the team must simply follow it through. While that may be true in terms of power and authority, by disrespecting your team members’ valuable knowledge and ignoring group decision making, a manager may be putting the team, and ultimately the company, at risk.

  • Make meetings productive by listening, not by trying to be the smartest person in the room. Ask a lot of questions and get answers from your experts, leverage the team ‘on the ground’ and utilize and respect their knowledge.
  • Mine solutions from the whole group then ask all in the room to question the validity and be the ‘friendly critic’ who can identify associated risks.
  • Keep ‘water cooler’ conversations away from planning and decision-making unless you are focused only on that team member’s performance.
  • Never make promises you cannot keep, the entire team will slowly begin to distrust your leadership.
  • Focus on the strengths of the whole team united, the importance of a team that works together and is not in conflict.

These are a just a few ideas for helping your build honesty and trust within your team. An honest, transparent and trustworthy manager is far more effective than a top-down, distrustful one. Leadership is not about you, it is about the team and what is best for the company. Open, honest transparency will be a far better guide through change and will serve you as a new leader in all walks of life.

What ideas can you share with new managers?

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Your Yes Men Are Hurting Your Business

clearYes men are the people always willing to agree with or go along with the leader for any of a number of reasons.

Yes men (or women) have a reason to believe that contradicting the boss or executive is detrimental to their career.

If you see this in your business, and you are at the top – you did this. You either inherited or created a culture of Yes Men and you likely have failed to address it.

At first it feels good. It’s great to feel like the smartest person in the room that everyone looks up to, the person who everyone agrees with. But it does not bring change, it will not bring innovation, it will never make your company distinctive or set you apart from the competition. It will stagnate you.

Yes Men fail in the actions your business really needs:

  • Challenging how money is being spent and why
  • Courage to innovate
  • Willingness to be accountable for a creative solution
  • Desire to adopt new ways of marketing or selling your brand
  • Being a unique player in a highly competitive market

Sure your business is doing fine. But, are you okay with fine?

Yes men are more about someone’s ego than what is right for the business.

Be willing to hire strong, capable people who are experts in their field. Create an atmosphere of trust where they feel safe telling you what they believe or think. Learn how to facilitate the kind of meetings that pull the best ideas out on the table. Ask yourself these:

  • When a “friendly critic” comes into the company, are they embraced or chased out?
  • Do you take challenge as a personal attack?
  • Think about it. Who could you ask or trust in the business to tell you what you really need to hear?
  • Who is the person who has the guts to challenge the status quo?
  • Are your ‘challengers’ really contrarians or do they have a passion for success?
  • Are they discounted because they are not following in the steps of your Yes Men?

Are you a strong enough leader to allow yourself to be challenged by your employees?

It’s YOUR culture, what are you going to do about it?

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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What’s the Protocol?

What the Show ‘Covert Affairs’ Can Teach Leaders. 

Covert affairCovert Affairss is a spy show about CIA operatives. A few years ago I learned a hard lesson when I failed to ask a very important question while media were gathered around a significant event; “What’s the protocol?” This question appears a lot in Covert Affairs.

Background

Let me explain. As the Chair Person of a Board of Directors of a not-for-profit, I was given the honour of leading a ground-breaking ceremony for a new school being erected that served preschool children with disabilities and their families. I will admit, it was a great feather in my cap personally, and I was extremely proud to see the model moving to the building of a school, when all previous expansion had been through purchase of an existing building or rental. I had spent almost 10 years with this organization and saw it grow from one building serving 173 children to the building of a 6th school that would eventually assist over 900 Children with disabilities. I was very proud of that growth, especially since during that time the organization successfully maintained the importance of focus on the child with an 83+ percentage of outcomes reached.

The Protocol

As a leader intent on supporting the good work of the team, I don’t particularly care for the focus on me, but as an ambassador of the organization it was occasionally my job to showcase the organization to groups. What I had never done before was a ground breaking ceremony. I worked hard in preparation, the Development team had prepared a schedule, a script, reviewed my speech, and I’d practiced until I was blue in the face. They had a wonderful child there who would be helping with the ground-breaking and many community individuals, dignitaries and media had been invited. The event had been very well organized and I was amazed at all that went into it. I just had to show up and be the spokesperson.

What I forgot to ask about the dignitaries and their respective roles, was; “What’s the Protocol?”

My role had always been to highlight the organization and its history, to use real and compelling examples of children and their progress, the heart-strings would always find themselves drawn into the story. I loved it being about the kids, about success and about the way kids overcome adversity. I was on a role, and my young 5 year old helper was a smashing hit, I made sure of it.

Sadly, I was completely unaccustomed to the importance of political dignitaries. Basically, I failed to understand the significance of their presence as it related to the funding, publicity and importance their role plays in the ongoing workings of a non-profit school. Their presence was about future dollars!

Basically, they were ignored. Ground-Breaking

And the Crowd Dispersed

Yes, there were photos with them at either side of my little pal and I holding the golden shovel, but they were just a stand in presence to what should have been a more significant role. What a wonderful media gift it would have been had I known the best part would have been giving those politicians the shovel and asking them to take the first dirt with their new little 5 year old friend and stepping back to let them!

Then I forgot to properly thank them, I took my little 5 year old over to the play area the event team had set up and I talked about the kids, with my little friend sharing his laughter and heart with the crowd. Oh the media loved the little guy – and I was asked for interviews later (which I never do well as cameras intimidate me) and those politicians went on with their busy day, wondering why they’d been called to attend in the first place. Talk about poor political moves!

In the end, the Development Team deemed the event a success, as they did get some much needed media attention, the cameras moving to the main school to shoot additional footage. They never once commented on my faux paus or political immaturity, but I am sure words unsaid were thought. Conversations around, “how do we keep MLA so-and-so here for a bit?” and other comments I heard as the crowd milled about in smaller groups made it obvious, and I grew increasingly aware of what I’d just done.

What’s the Desired Outcome?

Leaders, managers, employees all function under a layer of expectation and understanding. Some of the expectations may seem obvious to their bosses, but not to them. By asking the question, “What’s the protocol here?” gives them an opportunity to truly understand the expectations being placed upon them.

Basically, all meetings, all gatherings and all activity needs to lead to a desired outcome or outcomes. Some of those will be assumed. Some of us will be so entrenched in our duties we will fail to see the importance outside of our typical actions. We need to always be asking – what is the desired outcome, what is my protocol in this situation. Many a problem could be avoided, especially in terms of media communication of we knew that.

Change Management includes a strong definition of desired state for a reason, we want all activities to lead to the desired outcomes we are trying to achieve. Without a clear understanding we will be involved in changes that will be less than successful than we had planned.

Are you new to our blog? We'd love to have you stay, sign up for our newsletter HERE.

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Change Management & Leading

Where Are We Going?

Change Management (CM) is quite the buzz word in business lately – everyone knows they need it, but few organizations truly understand the science or the way to go about leading and managing change for their organization. Many companies are still fixated with tossing it into a separate department or onto a specific project for the middle managers or project managers to ‘figure out’. For many companies, especially project-specific ones, the focus appears to only be on getting buy-in for difficult changes.

“Let’s wrap a little change management around that.”

It’s a frustrating phrase we hear quite often in our consulting practice that not only demeans change management professionals and the means by which change is successfully adopted, but it also makes it sound like the people were the afterthought – like a dictator suddenly realizing three minutes into a coup that they may need a strategy for placating the masses.

“Change Management is about bringing the people with you through change, not shoving it down their throats in a more digestible fashion.”

~W.Blackstaffe

Change Management is just a small bite of Organization Development, not the whole meal. Leading change for the entire company is best accomplished by the leadership within the organization first. It is not enough for an executive body to decide to make a change, there are some very important readiness steps that are often missed. Projects that are completed fully through to implementation before the organization decides it’s time to bring on a change manager miss the most important steps to successful change.

In this article by Forbes, Donna Wiederkehr offers some very poignant advice on preparing the change at the leadership level in her commentary on change.

  • Have a clear vision
  • Articulate the vision
  • Give your teams a reason to believe
  • Use transitions for inspiration, not just explanations

Most of this is prepared in the decision making process, long before project start or during implementation, and the heart of it is developed at the leadership level. Read more of her article to dig a little deeper into Donna’s thoughts on change.

Our point is this: A watered-down Change Management effort designed solely for last minute buy-in is not going to be as effective as creating an organization that is Poised for Change™. Your organization needs to be capable of handling the many forced changes through market disruptions, environmental change and technological shifts that businesses are facing today. Companies need an over-all change strategy that reaches the heart of the employees who are being asked to make changes on a continual basis.

What do you see missing in change efforts you have been involved with?

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Open Letter to Criticizers of Restaurant Manager as new MLA in Alberta – no matter what party you support

restaurant_managementDear Criticizer,

RE: Graham Sucha voted in as MLA for Calgary Shaw

Both a daughter and a son in our family are restaurant managers, and I take great exception to the insinuation that restaurant managers are of a lower unqualified class of flunkies as portrayed by the comments I am seeing on several news posts. Let me make myself clear, restaurant management is one of the most complex, detailed, and difficult businesses in which to succeed and the companies that run them do not select flunkies to be in charge of their margins. 

So, for you salaried employees who work a 40-60 hour work-week, who are not in charge of your department’s budget, marketing, training, staffing, or procurement – perhaps you have a bit to learn about just what kind of a job this is.

The Restaurant Business is a Business!

It is hard-won, always changing, consistently challenging and one of the most difficult roles to take on because you must give up your whole life to make it successful. The dedication of someone who chooses restaurant management is tough, they must be responsible for much more than most MBA’s will have to experience in a life-time. Their fiduciary responsibilities go beyond duty and care, they are the stewards of the entire operation and must do so with fewer resources to support them than the average business.

Data Analysts

Restaurant managers must make good business decisions, and they must do so in good economies and bad. Data gathering and forecasting for both supply and service is a detailed and constantly moving target. They must gather data, understand the meaning behind the data and use that data to ensure consistency of service at the same time costs are being tightly controlled.

Re-engineering Gurus

Policies, talent management, streamlining, constant quality improvement, minute-by-minute business and resource optimization and continual response to environmental shifts outside of their control are all necessary for a restaurant manager to be successful. They are hit by more outside influence than most businesses and they are required to react on an instant.

Ultimate Customer Experience Experts

Few people either understand or care to learn about all that goes into your customer experience within an organization that gets an hour or two of your time while you are enjoying yourself. But to give you your water, wine and put a meal out in 12 minutes that is the right temperature, high quality, delivered with exceptional service in an ambiance that meets with your high standards is nothing short of miraculous. Restaurants require a high level of collaboration of all its parts, both front and back of house, and is like a well-oiled machine. Only an exceptional manager can achieve this kind of coordination from all their employees.

Business Management

I reiterate, restaurants are a BUSINESS. They have margins and budgets, supply, demand, service, and staffing issues. Unlike most businesses which are affected by occasional outside influences over the period of a year, restaurants deal with outside factors on an hourly basis. A downtown-city restaurant can have one day where they pull in $1500.00 in receipts to another day where $20,000.00 of receipts are brought in – all within the same week. This fluctuation of supply and demand cannot change the quality or experience to the customer, thus making their job extremely difficult. Budgetary forecasting, review of multi-year actuals, detailed understanding of the complexity of their location, client base, city events, sporting events, special days like Mother’s day, Father’s day, Canada Day, and more – are all on the agenda for pre-planning long before a customer even considers them. And as for competition, they have 8 other stores down the street that are vying for the very same customers so they must be dedicated 24/7 to win the hearts and loyalty of their customers, and they don’t do it by being lazy flunkies.

Personal Commitment

I’m guessing that some of you may head into work on a day off on occasion, that’s because you are dedicated! But did you know that the average restaurant manager is there on their ‘scheduled’ day off almost always as a rule? They are dedicated to their craft, they miss out on all of your fun events because nights and weekends are their busy times, they miss a lot of family functions, they are lucky if they marry a thoughtful spouse who is willing to manage children, house and home while they are consistently raising the bar to compete with the other store down the street, and at a lessor salary than you. So why do they do it?

It is a vocation, it is a love of people, of service and is a dedicated craft that involves dealing with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. They are faced daily with incredible experiences and for a moment are brought into the lives of their patrons who are celebrating, enjoying and feeding their lives through experience.

Yes, even the arrogant, entitled people who look down their noses at restaurant management as a lower-class choice in work leave with a meal served in only minutes with a high quality of standard and their glass filled.

Compared to a few MLAs of the past, I am thinking perhaps a little business management, by a people oriented person, would be welcome in our legislature, regardless of what party you support. The fact that this one chooses to seek advice from someone who is familiar with public life, is right out of the books of some of these folks.

Kind Regards,

Patti

NOTE:

I happen to know the young man that has been voted in as NDP MLA in Calgary Shaw and have witnessed his dedication and commitment, I am certain he will apply it as steadfastly to this new role as he has in management, and learn just as quickly. 

Are you new to our blog? We'd love to have you stay, sign up for our newsletter HERE.

___________________________________________

Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

___________________________________________

 

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Walter Blackstaffe – Hall of Fame Inductee

Congratulations to Walter Blackstaffe, one of our founders, for his induction into the Canadian Ski Alliance, Alberta Region Hall of Fame.

We are extremely Proud of Walter and happy to see his talent recognized. Walter has taught skiing all over Canada and in Switzerland and has made a strong contribution to the industry in many ways. He says he is most proud of taking part in mentor-ship programs with young people shaping their confidence and talent and his volunteering with CADS Alberta (Canadian Association for Disabled Skiers). Walter remains a continued positive influence to us at the office, to his students, his clients and the companies he works with.

Walter inducted into hall of fame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Little Bit of Anarchy

People will meet performance evaluation before they exceed expectation.

People will meet performance evaluation before they exceed expectation.

Many businesses going through a transformation do so for two reasons:

1. Their business is struggling and they need to stop the bleeding.
2. Their leadership is intent on maintaining a continual path to improvement and growth as they remain competitive.

The latter speaks for a leadership who understands that a little bit of anarchy or disruption can feed innovative solutions, and perhaps create innovation itself. But these leaders don’t make change for the sake of change.

Fear of change is a well-documented and well-understood reaction to ‘doing things differently’, but it is not necessarily true that people don’t like change itself. Ask anyone who is on the hunt for a new car, a bigger house, a better job, or who has solved a significant problem – change is exciting and worth the anticipation. The kind of change people dislike is the kind that is thrust upon them, without consideration of the impact it has on lives, jobs, teams, or culture.

Companies that ‘change right’ are open to positive anarchy and growth disruption. Their leadership does not need to pretend they know it all, they make great efforts to be involved with the process and are open to learning from their front-line experts.

Leaders who fight change? Sometimes it comes down to ego and those egos might just need a shake while they learn to measure for what they are seeking from their teams.

· Measure performance like you want your teams to innovate, and they will live up to it.
· Measure performance solely based on cost cutting and your teams will live up to it.

On average, people will meet performance evaluation before they exceed expectation.

Straight across cost cutting does not grow a company. Innovative companies that grow are not afraid to investigate ways to grow, many stick to the 70-20-10 rule. 70% of time on core business, 20% of time in supporting efforts for the core business and 10% of time reaching outside the core to innovate and grow the business, and they measure their teams’ performance accordingly, creating an environment for innovation.

Funny, companies with a top-down structure have a fear of disruption, and are often unwilling to change, yet they are the companies who eventually land themselves as the first example; they will struggle and be forced to change to stop the bleeding – somewhere down the road.

Which company do you work for?

Are you new to our blog? We'd love to have you stay, sign up for our newsletter HERE.

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Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

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Why Buy-in Isn’t Enough With Change

readiness-123rf-16527177_sIn a nicely written post titled, “Resistance is Not Futile” by Jon Tveten about managing resistance, he indicates the C-level suite is often surprized by the resistance to change. To quote Jon;

How could people not be falling in love with their brilliant new strategy? How could they fail to see the benefits to be wrought by this wonderful change?”

And Jon’s post goes on to discuss the importance of listening as a selling tool of the change.

This brought the word ‘dialog’ to mind. With information coming at us 24/7, high-speed technical advances, doing far more work with far less resources, being inundated with the pressures of shareholders and a highly competitive landscape, it seems we have failed at knowing how to maintain honest and transparent dialog.

The industry uses words like “stakeholder impact analysis” and “process evaluation” to describe a couple of change techniques, and yet we as consultants often hear the words – “Just get them to buy-in” from leadership we also hear; “We were never asked our opinion” from the front lines.

Getting Buy-in

Buy-in sounds great, but what does it really mean? Basically, it tells you that others have agreed to go along with a decision. GREAT! But, is it enough they have agreed to go along? We don’t think so.

Truth is, this isn’t necessarily as great as it sounds. Consider this scenario;

Marcella, the CEO, and Dean, the VP of technology, make a decision to transition the global team to a new HR management system. This involves a complete shift in how the organization manages staff in 8 different countries. The reason for the change is that the VP of technology pays for the cost of the software out of his budget. At present the annual enterprise costs for this system require a yearly investment, a maintenance and service contract, and the company is beyond initial warranty so they also pay for each upgrade. By all intents and purposes, Dean looks to save $15,000.00 a year on his budget by putting in a new system. The numbers were crunched, the spreadsheets shared and Dean made a very compelling case for change based on a budgetary bottom-line.

In the yearly strategy session, Marcella makes the announcement to the other VPs and director-level staff that this change will be made in the New Year, deferring to Dean for explanation. The project will be a 6 month effort and they will bring in the consultants from the new HR management system software company to help implement the solution. It is assumed that everything will transition smoothly.

What’s right about this?

Sounds familiar and straightforward, right? Fiduciary responsibility is what these folks are hired for.

  • Business is business, the deal is that a company needs to generate more income than output in order to continue at the very least and grow at the best.
  • The C-Suite is where these decisions need to be made, and the final call should be theirs.
  • The VP of Technology likely did his homework in doing a technical comparison of the two pieces of software and believes he made a great selection that weighs both price and functionality.

What might be wrong about this?

Stakeholders! This is where the word ‘dialog” comes in and below are the questions rarely asked upfront – prior to decision making. This is a big part of readiness for change.

  • Was this decision made without Rob, the VP of Human Resources? This decision impacts and affects his entire department and every individual who works for him.
  • Was a use-case study of how the current software is being used by the HR team done prior to making the decision and is the new software a major improvement or is it at par?
  • Was an end-user impact analysis done to understand how this HR management system affects every employee’s access to their benefits and employment information completed?
  • Will any current, highly utilized functionality be lost or are there tightly linked 3rd party or custom applications highly dependent on the current system? (Sometimes only front-line staff can answer this).

The readiness piece is missing in this fictional scenario, but it doesn’t sound foreign to many people who have been through similar change. While the compelling case in numbers makes sense, there are a myriad of hidden costs associated with a change such as this. “What will break?” Answering that question can identify much of the dollars, then there are the costs of the transition such as training, etc. Without a solid change strategy prior to decision making, companies are time-and-again finding themselves with over-run project costs, delayed implementation schedules, stronger than expected resistance and a very frustrated staff-base and implementation team. Brining in a change team to ‘manage’ the roll-out is too late – failing to hand the change team the ability to gather data prior to decision-making is where most companies cripple their change initiatives.

Open Dialog

Making decisions in large companies is a complex dance that is not taken lightly by the C-level leadership. Every decision weighs heavily on them and the pressure to perform is constant and ongoing. Many leaders hesitate to strike fear of change into their employees by even hinting about upcoming change. The fear that the larger collective will ‘get-wind’ of something they don’t like and a campaign against a change will start before a solution can be found can break down transparency and dialog. Let’s face it – as Jon says in his article – people don’t like to change their habits.

Companies who invest in up-front use-case and impact work on an on-going basis as part of their readiness and decision making process is far ahead of those who don’t. The C-level decision makers count on the teams to provide the right data, too often there are many numbers left out in the analysis of bottom line costs associate.

Leaders who fall into the trap of believing they have all the answers will miss some very valuable solutions. Continual evaluation of what and how technology is being used, or ongoing reviews of process and policy with all stakeholders makes for good business.

Readiness is more than a line on a piece of paper, readiness is about being Poised for Change™ and is best applied when built into the way companies do business every day. Creating a solid platform for preparing for ongoing change on a continual basis means they have better information for decision making. As my colleague and friend Jeffrey Summers of Summer’s Hospitality Group said recently, “Companies need to adapt, innovate or embrace change in order to remain relevant.”

Remember ‘Buy-In’?

Just because the strategy session ended with everyone saying they will “go along with” a decision does not mean they agreed with it. Dialog and well-managed readiness, inclusion, transparency and consideration of the stakeholders up-front prior to making decisions will move the organization much farther ahead in making great decisions and reducing resistance to change. Facilitated efforts and the right kind of dialog will give your organization leverage for doing what Jeffrey Summers says; “…adapt, innovate and embrace change to remain relevant”.

Are you new to our blog? We'd love to have you stay, sign up for our newsletter HERE.

___________________________________________

Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

___________________________________________

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Change Management and Saving Sears Canada

2sears-storeNew CEO Ronald Boire says Sears is here to stay. He is the newest member of 4 recent leaders in 3 years making a go at keeping Sears alive in Canada, our team chatted among ourselves as to how we might approach such a feat.

Growing up on the Canadian prairies, Sears Canada was a solid thread in the fabric of suppliers for all things home and garage, a virtual security blanket of where-to-get-what and all in one place. Sears was the place my brothers bought decent tools and we could count on Sears to always be the same and carry the goods we wanted. But in the competitive retail marketplace, a lot has changed, and a company that rarely changes will see themselves falling off the radar faster than you can say “rebrand me”.

Changing was once the name of the game for Sears (formerly Simpson-Sears) between 1953 and 1962, from mail order to retail stores they enjoyed a great deal of growth as they moved through building new credit systems and adopting new technologies. They were a force to be reckoned with in the Canadian retail market. Through to the late 70’s there were few Canadian children who didn’t wait at the door for the Christmas Wishbook to arrive. Nary was a ‘Santa list’ created without that prize catalog of toy-land-discovery being carefully perused and assessed. So what happened from the mid-eighties until now to change the powerful force that Sears held on our Canadian Retail market? The landscape changed, but did Sears fail to change with it?

Sitting in our offices today, a discussion ensued about the kind of changes needed for Ronald Boire to truly save Sears Canada, (and shift where necessary) to keep the icon relevant in Canadian Retail.

Where to Start

Building the plan will take an enormous strategic effort, and the planning and readiness through that strategy development is vital. We cannot impress upon them more that the key to a successful change rests upon the importance in having the right data at hand before making major decisions. What data? Let’s start here:

  1. Market Segmentation
  2. Consumer Behaviour
  3. Customer demographics
  4. Multi-channel delivery
  5. Corporate Partnerships
  6. Industry & Marketing Trends
  7. Consumer Engagement and Relationships
  8. Customer Service
  9. Identity
  10. Internal Training Programs

In preparing through the readiness step, Sears Canada reports they have done much in the way of cutting costs, setting themselves up for being able to remain sustainable through a complete overhaul of how they do business, but there is still a long road ahead. Each of the above areas must be analyzed by people who understand the data but more importantly, know how to align it. Considering the whole host of micro data within each area above, it is important that Sears is willing to shift from the “it’s worked before” mentality to a “what does the data tell us, really” mentality. And the decisions will need to take into serious consideration those managers and middle managers who must implement change. Having the corporate focus on true data and stakeholder information, with means and measures of where and how to gather that data and the strength in understanding how to interpret it for the decision makers will make it much easier to evaluate.

Identity Crisis

Do you remember being a teenager and wondering where you fit, wanting to be part of several different groups, but never really feeling like you belong anywhere, you don’t know yourself well enough to self-define so you slide and hope someone picks you up? It appears Sears Canada is in that same realm- floating to be defined but never really knowing themselves well enough to identify where they fit. As a teen must get to know themselves and the people and environment around them better to know who they are, Sears must do the same. They require a solid understanding of the market, the consumer habits and behaviors, the industry trends and what customer engagement looks like in 2014 and to anticipate where it is going. We are in a relationship market and customers want transparency, demand great customer service and want to engage quite literally with every online conversation, blog and write-up. If a business can’t clearly define their own identity, the right customers will not be correctly targeted.

The company is long overdue helping us understand who they are and where they fit within the Canadian marketplace. Are they the middle ground between the low-cost Wal-Mart stores and the higher-end The Bay? (Both of which have their own shifting to consider.)

A clear, desired state must first be defined – who they will be in the future and how that looks, feels and materializes is vital, they need to know where they fit in the Canadian Market and precisely who they are for their customers. Then they need to clearly convey this message from Corporate through to consumer – simply, articulately and soon, so everyone “gets it”. It is not enough to say they are in it for the long-run, they need to share the vision.

Technology

In 1959, Sears was instrumental in embracing new technologies by being a pioneer of the Telex Service providing improved international record keeping allowing them to increase their credit accounts by 190,000 within a single year. Sears was rocketing by being technically savvy.

It’s fundamental to take a long hard look at technology and what exists in the current business, evaluating it against what will be needed to accommodate current consumer behaviour and trends and implementing the right strategies moving forward. This is an expensive and important investment that cannot be taken lightly, a plan to ensure all technology is vetted through an overall big picture view rather than a “grasp at mini solutions” ad-hoc set of implementations is paramount.

Areas of technical evaluation to consider will be internal and external. Data management & analysis, metrics tracking, sales and delivery tools, procurement and inventory systems will all need a solid review and update. Externally, digital catalogs, mobile device applications, client engagement tools, and social media strategies. All of these tools interconnect as a means and way of remaining relevant and top-of-mind to today’s consumers and the market Sears chooses to call their own. (See identity crisis above.) Take Neiman Marcus, for example, they saw the benefit of teaming up with the company Slyce to connect people with their products, now that is making themselves relevant.

People

With all companies, a strong organizationally developed company can gradually slide when they are busy bailing the water out and trying to fix the leak. A myopic view of business challenges can put the people in last place. A once great management training program will need to change as Sears begins to change. They have a pretty solid 18 month training program for their Management staff with a focus on Merchandising, Supply Chain, Marketing and Retail Operations as well as varied store visits and shadowing. Kudos for Sears in building operational processes for management, but there are some key areas of leadership development, change management, leading employees, understanding new consumer trends, reaching the community and other programs we could not find when we did a little research on the company. Their old standard of pop-up in store promotions just isn’t gathering the crowd like it used to. If they have developed some current trends in these areas, it’s not obvious. Shifting the company to a stronger growth-focused environment will require some key elements that support great leadership in addition to strong merchandising skills. Knowing the consumer better, shifting with the consumer and being flexible in reach will help managers better know how to support their staff to sell.

Areas of focus for all change will need a full review of the HR policies, procedures, benefits, training, loyalty programs, incentives, support systems, customer service delivery, and sales practices.

Alliances

As with the Neiman Marcus and Slyce partnership, Sears is due for a relevance shift. Partnering with companies that serve a broader reach and partnering with retail suppliers in unique ways to drive traffic and sales is long overdue. Most of what our team has observed is that the catalog needs a full technical overhaul to make it easier to buy, flyer marketing needs to include a price because people no longer will go in-store to find that out, a great app for getting current deals is non-existent, and we see very little draw to engage with the consumer.

Take one small example from Costco, they may be a warehouse model where dozens of folks flock to their bricks and mortar to get product, but they also have a pretty solid online system. We are not just talking about an online catalog, however, because members at Costco are provided with something relevant in the area of content management. They ship a magazine/catalog that provides information useful to the consumer, something they can read and enjoy, something that gives them recipes, articles on travel, and more and their lives are enriched by the engagement. Within this magazine are relevant products available at Costco.ca for anyone to purchase conveniently, and presented in bite-sized chunks made into a shopping experience. Once on the website – their search engine and transparency are exceptional. It pays to invest in your technology!

Conclusion

Times change, consumers change, and trends and technology drive those changes. The organization that understands the change management process, that looks at the overall organizational development within their company, and who is exceptional at data collection, review and alignment is better prepared to change with the times and consumers.

Because of the very early beginnings of Simpsons and their merger with Sears, our whole team feels nostalgic about Sears and truly hope they make this fly. Sears needs identity, relevance, reach and engagement to once again become a leader in the retail space in Canada, it will be interesting to see where they take it.

Are you new to our blog? We'd love to have you stay, sign up for our newsletter HERE.

___________________________________________

Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations in implementing sustainable change in a rapid changing world. Her key areas of focus are change management solutions both at the project level and the organizational level. She has over 10 years of experience in change management, has worked on projects that impact 50-30,000 people in both large and small organizations. Patti brings experiential design thinking into all her projects ensuring solutions are relevant, simplified and the implementation makes sense.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to work with us.

___________________________________________

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