Archive for change

Are You Leading for Change Management?

Success MagazineLeading for Change...a few years ago Patti, our Strategist, was interviewed for an article of the same title in Success Magazine. In that article she stressed the importance of involving the team in finding solutions, saying;

“When employees know the plan, the direction, the mission and the goals, it gives them something concrete and real to focus their actions toward. It helps them understand how they add value to the direction of the company and shows them their own worth toward building success for the organization.”

Recently, a new client approached us because they have been struggling with the internal management of some of their change initiatives. The topic of managing change is a relatively new area for them and they have made assignments regarding the change management role. When we identified for them that they have not developed a common understanding across the organization as to exactly what change management is, they began to better understand why some of their initiatives were failing.

What was happening?

  • Employees believed they WERE performing change management in their respective areas.
  • The words Change Management were being used but not necessarily performed in the manner the industry recognizes.
  • They were seeing ‘ownership’ of their piece of the project threatened by the new change management role, assuming their piece would be taken away.
  • They were unwittingly sabotaging the change efforts of the change manager.
  • They had a number of ‘change’ initiative going on, but did not support at the highest level.
  • They were treating the process as an administrative duty.

It didn’t take long to get them on the right track, what they needed was a company-wide definition of the Change Management Process for their organization. They needed to engage the people in the organization to clarify this common definition for the entire company. Then they needed to engage teams in learning just what that involved. Most had no idea that change management is actually a process, not a series of random steps performed in isolation of the other steps. “We added a little Change Management to this…” means they had no idea what change management actually involves.SuccessMagazine

In your best sponsorship, are you leading change by creating clarity and understanding from the top and including people from ALL levels of the organization so that they have both input and a common understanding of initiatives? Here are some ways to help you build the competency in your organization:

  • Bring in someone to help you define a change process for your organization.
  • Train the people you will be assigning as change practitioners
  • Enlighten the organization with clarity on exactly what change management involves.

Let me leave you with Patti’s other quote I like from the article:

“You don’t have all the answers, and science is showing that a group of committed collaborators trumps a single genius for finding amazing solutions.”

Clarity and engagement – two keys to success in Leading Change – Make it Grand!


The Great Big Shake Up

“The key to change… is to let go of fear.” – Rosanne Cash

Many people who have been connected to me in social media will have noticed I took a social media vacation this last while. Mainly to re-examine both my business and my life – I was fortunate to have a friend who cared enough about me to offer me a lot of insight and spent the time to help me examination things pretty closely. Mostly, he made me look at myself and accept things I was not aware I was doing, saying and being. Facing some of it has been hard.

This year has been a year of purpose for me, focusing on family and gaining insight about my future direction. It has also given me some time to re-examine the grand plan for both the business and my own direction and a number of themes have emerged.

  • Purpose
  • Authenticity
  • Being with people
  • Asking for help
  • Letting go
  • And my own valuation

I suppose I’m going through much of what any entrepreneur goes through when they find themselves on a road they never started out on and have lost their map. But it is much more than that. I have changed, my intentions for my purpose have been lost, and with that comes the awareness a great transition is necessary to right this wobbling boat.

Over the next few months I will be making changes to the business and to my life to get onto a path that is more in keeping with my own truth and talents, and be able to serve others more effectively and authentically. I will be creating the means to be more centered, more focused in a smaller, tighter package in order to remain true to myself personally and the reason I got into business in the first place – and I will be working to remain true to my family. I will be putting on the brakes with a few things, and it has been a very messy journey of processing and a filtering of thoughts, beliefs and ideas, but I guess transition can be messy – well, it has been this time.

I intend to share as things move forward, especially those changes which impact clients, readers, followers and anyone who might wander onto this blog with an interest.

This is more of a life-shift and each of the themes above will be driving forces in re-setting the direction.

In taking the quiet time I needed to work through all of the examination I shared with this friend, I have discovered crazy insecurities I thought were long past, renewed a sense of self and I have rediscovered purpose.

I am significantly impacted by this, and by the very personal experiences I have gone through over the last year while sitting in the side-car of my mother’s health journey. It is my hope I can offer a little more of the authentic Patti and avoid needing such intense privacy. It is also my hope that in not keeping my faults and struggles so private, I can better serve my purpose and the many people I value so dearly.

For your support and readership, I am ever grateful.


Make it Grand!


‘Step Up’ and Direct Change For the Future

Strategic Sense, in addition to providing Leadership Training, has made a commitment to highlight some of the remarkable authors, leadership professionals and business people we’ve had the great fortune of meeting and working with over the last 3 years. On Wednesdays you will see guest-posts from some of these folks. All are leaders in their field and have solutions to some of our biggest workplace issues. Such as Jeffrey Summers, the President and Founder of RestaurantWorx who wrote about Building the Ultimate Customer Experience.

Today’s Guest Post is by Joan Koerber-Walker who has recently stepped up again as President and CEO of AZBio and whose blog we follow and share regularily because of it’s insight and great messages.

And now, here’s Joan…


Change is not passive

The Great Wall of China – © Chris Walker 2001 all rights reserved

Change is not a passive activity. Leadership isn’t either. When we see something that is changing, we find our opportunity to step up and lead. Just as with the Great Wall of China, there are thousands of opportunities to step up.

As we look around our businesses, our homes, our communities and our countries, we can always find areas in need of improvement. In each of these areas, we have a choice. We can sit back, watch and complain OR we can step up, lead and direct change for the better.

Take your walking stick on the journey.

Whether we choose to keep our world small or embrace it globally, each of us have our own unique talents, skills, and experiences that we can use to drive innovation in the world around us, These are the tools at our disposal that act as walking sticks, supporting us with each step we take IF we choose to use them. Some leadership journeys can be very long and others can be incredibly steep. Bringing everything you have to offer to the project gives you something to lean on along the way.

Connect your steps.

Stepping up does not have to mean traveling alone. It’s been said that it’s lonely at the top. Keep in mind that it does not have to be. Just like the Great Wall, there really is no “top” just a series of plateaus and mile posts that connect along the journey. With each connection comes the opportunity to form a bond with others who share your goals, passions and reasons for taking the lead. These bonds foster communication and the sharing of ideas just as in ancient times the Great Wall served as China’s foundation for a network of communications linking outpost to outpost.

Look back… Move Forward.

At times, when stepping up, the journey may seem too long ahead of us. This can sap our energy and slow our steps. When this happens, don’t be afraid to pause and look behind you at all of the steps that have lead you to this point. The progress you have made will fuel your energy once again and the momentary rest will give your leadership muscles a chance to recover. Then, when it is time, move forward to step up again. You might just leave a legacy as enduring as the Great Wall of China.


JoanJoan Koerber-Walker recently stepped up again as President and CEO of AZBio, the Arizona BioIndustry Association to lead an organization dedicated to the growth of the bioscience industry in her home state and its impact on health, energy, agriculture and the economy. A two time Stevie Award National Finalist and former Fortune 500 executive, she is also the Chairman of the Board of CorePurpose, Inc. and the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation and serves as Executive in Residence for Callaman Ventures. As the former CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association and a past member of the Board of Trustees of the National Small Business Association in Washington, D.C. she has worked with hundreds of small businesses and on behalf of thousands. Chat with her on Twitter as @joankw, @JKWgrowth, @JKWinnovation, @JKWleadership and @CorePurpose or at her blog at

Patti Image.xsm We DO want great employees, right...or do we?Patti Blackstaffe, President of Strategic Sense Inc, is a Speaker, Strategic Advisor and Trainer in Leadership, Customer Service and Cultural integration through Mergers and Acquisition.You can book her to speak at her personal page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals, teams, group training and company strategy. Read what folks have to say about her eBook Leadership XXL: 11 Practical Steps to Living Leadership Extra, Extra Large.

Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there, and call us. (403) 201-8512


Feeling Busted by Broken Business? Lead Innovation in Opposite Directions

Strategic Sense made a commitment this year to highlight some of the remarkable authors, leadership professionals and business people we have had the great fortune of meeting and working with over the last 3 years. On Wednesdays, (and this is very late Wednesday) you will see guest-posts from some of these folks. All are leaders in their field and will have solutions to some of our biggest workplace issues. As with Kevin Eikenberry, from The Eikenberry Group who wrote about Encouragement last week and asked us who it is WE encourage.

Today’s Guest Post is by Dr. Ellen Weber, Director at Mita International Brain Center, her blogs (blogs Mita brainpowered approaches, to lead innovation – at Forbes’ Mind Makeover and at Brain Leaders and Learners) top of the line blogs how the brain works, how we can use what we know about the brain to change ourselves and how we can better understand leading others.

And now, here’s Ellen…

Scan any newspaper or flip to news channels and you’re soon swamped with lack of advancement woes and tales of loss. Story after story in workplaces too, suggest doom due to ruts, routines and dead-end regulations. Ever wonder why disasters seem to trump wins these days in business and for that matter, in human brains?

Not surprisingly, negative forces work against personal growth in stagnant organizations, in much the same way they halt progress in business. That’s largely because your brain comes equipped with mirror neurons so that you mimic much of what you hear and see in others around you, whether you are aware of it or not. See why media vents, bureaucrats’ defensiveness, and tenured workers who resist change work against progress? It doesn’t have to be that way though.

We’ve witnessed more and more innovative leaders, who take advantage of unique mental tools such as mirror neurons, to mimic and run with winning sprinters. Leaders who dare to risk on the flip side of stagnation, and who capitalize on neuro discoveries, wield rejuvenation remedies that transform tired traditions. How so?

Run from ruts:

Some leaders lament that the time is not right for moving in a new direction. Others remain stuck because they expect to remain in their ruts. Still others tend to blame workforce decline on any number of problems. Workers resist change, accreditation drains time and effort, profit’s down, or they simply don’t have enough proof that suggested changes will improve their lot.
Your Brain Working
Neuro discoveries, on the other hand, reveal that it’s stressed or demoralized workers who default to ruts faster. Simply put, rut-like-tendencies trigger a dangerous chemical, cortisol, which shuts down brainpower. In fact this potent hormone can actually shrink the human brain and shave years off a person’s life. Sadly, cortisol also sinks workplaces as morale plummets, people perpetuate losing routines, and profits decrease in its wake.

Run toward risks:

Regardless of your position in an organization, you lead risks for innovation, by simply stepping out boldly to implement an original idea in an attempt to resolve a stubborn workplace problem. It’s quite scary at first, so you’ll want to act before fear tosses cortisol into the mix, and stops spigots for courage needed to carry out the novel proposal. You may be surprised at your brain’s equipment to help here.

Luckily, we now know that dopamine, the brain chemical for risk-taking and change, also increases with each step taken in new directions. That’s why it’s critical to act on your innovations and move with novel proposals, in spite of setbacks that even progressive workplaces can suffer at times. Good news is that nightly, during REM sleep, your brain rewires, and literally changes itself based on what you did the prior day. Design an innovative practice for your workplace, and your brain changes itself nightly for further success in changes you apply.

Run with winners:

Serotonin, the brain chemical that stirs shared well being, and collaborative success is passed from team member to team member whenever we engage multiple intelligences to partner for inventions that pony up new shots at success. Simply start by using more of your own and other’s strengths.

Ready to risk growth? If so, create the kind of mind-bending news that media report for novelty, and help replace naysayers’ reports that create workplace chaos and loss. How so?

Why not, identify one small area that could use improvement where you work. Fuel your own brain with a shot of dopamine, by proposing a novel idea for growth. Then run with a few winners in the opposite direction of busted routines. With a little help from talented peers, brainpowered tools, you’ve never before tried – will equip you to lead novel designs you’ve never before imagined.

Visit Dr. Ellen Weber, Director at Mita International Brain Center, by visiting her blogs Mita brainpowered approaches, to lead innovation – at Forbes’ Mind Makeover and at Brain Leaders and Learners.


Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership, Customer Service and Cultural integration through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her personal page. Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals, teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. (403) 201-8512


Your "Attention Radar" – Choosing Your Focus

RASHave you ever taken training or coaching where someone was working hard to gift you with gems of wisdom or a different way of looking at things? Do you know if you were truly open to the information being given?

One of the most difficult situations is when a coach or mentor is trying hard to move you forward and your door is closed!

A great way to tell if you’re being receptive is to listen to your own response. The next time someone – a coach, boss, trainer, or mentor – is making a concerted effort to encourage change, try to acknowledge that they have a different view you might not be seeing. Then ask yourself if you are actually leaving the door open enough to receive the gems of wisdom they offer.

  1. Are you taking time to hear what they are saying and turning it into a lesson to be utilized in your own life?
  2. Do you respond by defending the behaviours that keep you from moving forward?
  3. Do you use expressions such as “I DO that, but it never works.” Or “I try, but….” or “I AM…”
  4. Do you leap to conclusions about what others think of you, even though it’s not actuallywhat they were saying?
  5. Do you hold tightly to beliefs that are clearly holding you back?

If so, then you might very well be trapped in a cyclical thought pattern based on buried beliefs and while you think the doors are open to hearing and recognizing opportunity and growth, they may very well be closed.

So, what’s really going on here?

Neuroscience has performed studies on an area in the brain called the Reticular Activating System or RAS. The RAS acts as a sort-of connector between your conscious and unconscious mind and filters information by “listening out for” things that are relevant to your conscious thoughts and focus. Basically, it controls our ability to pay attention. For example, when you are walking down the street there are literally hundreds of thousands of noises. You might hear a vibration or hum of noise in the background but you do not hear each and every individual sound, only those for which your focus is attuned, but it has it’s limits. Your brain is programmed to take in approx 5-9 individual items at a time and you hone in on those items because focus on them has been programmed by your conscious mind providing the “attention radar” for your unconscious mind.

A car horn signalling danger; familiar music coming from a store; your name being called from the other side of the street; all of these are items your subconscious will listen to because they are out of the ordinary in a typical walk and your conscious mind has made them a relevant focus in your life. Equally so, inadequecy or feelings of being persecuted or judged will fly into the face of a discussion if your belief system has been built under the experience of having to continually defend yourself. Basically you are ‘looking for it’ and so you will find it.

What great information for all of us –the beautiful thing neuroscience teaches us here is that the Reticular Activating System can be reprogrammed, or you can change what you are ‘looking for’. This is why setting goals, saying affirmations and visualizing ìn the conscious are the beginning of the journey to realizing our dreams because they speak to our unconscious mind, the place-holder for our belief systems.

Learning how to listen and embrace information with an open heart and mind can be done with practice and by learning strategies and techniques for reprogramming your RAS. The first step is in recognizing if you are listening openly, take a few minutes to evaluate your recent conversations against the above list – are you truly open? If not, then you will benefit from learning strategies for discovering and challenging belief systems that hold you back and practicing techniques to reprogram your RAS thus putting the “attention radar” on that which will help you grow and move forward.