Organizational Change Management

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Organizations, like any other structures, can become outdated in vision, culture, processes, or structure. When an organization no longer fits its surroundings and stakeholder needs, its very existence is at risk.

Change Takes Planning and Support

A series of meetings can be designed and facilitated to inaugurate and generate intentional change. The work may involve a few people or an entire organization system. It is also essential to plan and support implementation of change to sustain the new benefits.

Write it Down

If you are looking for this kind of support, you probably already know something needs to change or that something seems to be missing. Write down what you know and who is affected by or could help with this issue. Then write a few thoughts about the implications of NOT addressing the issue. If there are no implications, there may not be enough “energy” to change anything.

The Process

The basic parts of a change process are:

  • Data gathering
  • Purpose identification
  • Change process design
  • Execution
  • Review
  • Support

Change Takes Time

Complex, large system projects can take two or more years. Smaller changes can take a few months. One approach is to contract for initial data gathering and purpose identification before entering a contract for the change process itself. Budgets are typically based on a daily rate and can also be based on the overall project. This kind of work can be expensive, but as one client told me recently, the benefits are still evidence ten years later.

If you are considering hiring me to assist with a major organizational change, please begin by visiting my webpage on Getting Started with Organizational Change.

Executive and Leadership Coaching

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It’s not the good old days anymore.

Business and organizational challenges come at you fast and furious. You may feel overwhelmed or ineffective. If you are committed to being an extraordinary leader, you may need guidance to a new awareness and understanding of your situation.  This newfound consciousness results in thoughtful, well-reasoned actions. You are likely to find a place of calm wisdom you had forgotten you have.

Great performers of music and sports always have coaches, because they are committed to learning and know they cannot accurately see themselves in action.

As your coach, I lead you to increase awareness. We do that together by critically reflecting on:

Your role: What is it REALLY, regardless of title and job description?

Your history in current and previous roles: What has worked, what has been a challenge?

Your surroundings: What’s going on around you, why it is changing?

Other players: Who is around you? What is your relationship? What do you think of their work?
The future: What do you see? What do you want? How will you get there?

Balance: What will it take for you to be sound in body, mind, and spirit so you can do your best?

Once we have the lay of the land, I guide you to take responsibility.

Action: What should you focus on, what are you sufficiently committed to that might not be popular, but may be necessary? What is easy, now that you see it?

Review: We build a plan for staying on top of your work and results and fine tune activities as the future emerges.

Distinctions: What is truly your responsibility? What really belongs to others? How can you generate enough clarity and commitment so they do their jobs?

NOTE: I am not the coach for you if you are seeking quick answers from someone who thinks he or she knows your job better than you do. There may be some quick wins working that way, but it’s you who has to do the heavy lifting. I’ll be at your side, but I won’t do your work for you.

What an individual coaching engagement looks like:

  • A preliminary meeting to identify coaching objectives and see if we want to work together.
  • In-person coaching sessions that last one to two hours (generally).
  • Sessions booked as far in advance and as far into the future as possible.
  • Six-month agreement at the beginning—always with the possibility of rethinking or terminating the agreement.
  • Periodic review of progress and satisfaction with the coaching relationship.
  • Payment in two parts—half at the beginning, half at the end.
  • Missed appointments are considered held and charged unless rescheduled within 24 hours.
  • Other options we invent together.

If you are interested in Executive or Leadership Coaching, I invite you to click through to my Getting Started with Executive or Leadership Coaching page.

Harvest Timing, an Excerpt from “Fully Human”

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As you may or may not know, I wear a couple of hats in addition to coach and consultant.  One of the hats I like to don is that of poet.  I have written and published an entire collection of poetry. “Fully Human” depicts moments of life illuminating what it means to be human in our times. These rich and poetic metaphors have been wonderfully received by clients in health care, mental health and education where I have used my work to help people explore life’s challenges and moments of grace. Geoffrey Bellman, well-known local leadership author says in the book’s endorsements, “You reach into and through the shadows and death in its many forms. Many people will find solace in your words about suffering meaninglessness…and those that don’t should! You coax the meaning out of the darkness with a knowing voice.”

Following is a season-appropriate excerpt from my collection.  “Fully Human” is available for purchase on my website.  Enjoy!

Harvest Timing

The apples are gathered in now
And it was a good crop.

The last of the raspberries
Mould on the canes,
A few tomatoes linger
In hopes of one more sunny day.

It’s been a good garden this year.
I’ve spent more time than ever
Weeding beds, mowing, trimming;
I even attacked the blackberries
And morning glory vines.

Weeks ago I noticed progress in
My cleaning out, but yesterday
I saw these last ones
Have not given up.

New vines, even in September,
Creep back into the walks,
Set off new shoots into the Rhododendrons.

Now I see life in a mix of ripe fruit
And work that isn’t done.
Come Spring, I’ll hit the vines again
And feel I’ve made more progress –
Once more cutting back the over growth
Pulling up the morning glory
secretly invading the vegetables.
Every year I cut them back,
And they in turn grow more.

Life, then, is as much about
The weeds as it is about the fruit.

As ministers, stewards of the garden,
We weed and prune,
Sometimes getting what we want.

The cuttings, handled well,
Turn to compost for growing
More sweet fruit.

Written by Samuel P. Magill

Talking with Sled Dogs – Leading from Behind (The Conclusion)

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Continued from September 27th

Even careful preparation can’t account for mishaps along the way

Our plan had been for me to turn at the first trail junction and stop until I saw Will’s headlamp. So, I turned, called to the lead dog, Sakani, and collected on the relationship she and I had built skijoring: she stopped quickly. I planted the snow anchor, and keeping one hand on the sled (never, never let go of the sled) looked for Will.

I saw his light and stepped back on the runners. Then leaned over to pull the anchor and called to the lead. Silence. Nothing happened. I starred in disbelieve. The dogs were gone. Gone! My mind raced. Then recalling Will’s advice to say a little as possible and never get excited, I called twice to Sakani, to stop. My headlamp illuminated four pairs of red eyes looking back at me. Stay, Sakani, Stay.

Will came around the corner expecting me to be moving and nearly ran me down. He stopped. I said in a quiet sort of way: “We have a problem”. He, too, starred in disbelief.

Invention is paramount for issue resolution

Now here is where plans don’t count. Relationship and communication and staying connected and inventing are the way out. Will asked me to stand in front of his team: they are so loyal to him that they were likely to follow him forward. He approached my team since they knew him better than they did me. When he got to them (Sakani had stayed as I asked.) he first straightened them out – to get the antagonists on the team separated – then called me.

Quietly, slowly, I walked on the trail until I got to Sakani. Then I stepped off the trail up to my knees in unpacked snow and lead Sakani back to the sled. Again, invention mattered. If the team started to run, we were dead. The four of them were much stronger than Will and I. I picked Sakani’s front feet up so that she hopped her way back to the sled. It neutralized her strength and is the method for getting the dogs from kennel to truck – but it’s not generally used on the trail. The others followed her as I made a wide circle to avoid fights. Once back at the sled, we made the same circle again to get pointed back down the trail and found out what had happened – an old rope with a broken knot.

Review of the event

The sequence in this breakdown is important.

  1. I saw and acknowledged that something unexpected had happened.
  2. I called on my relationship with the lead.
  3. I stayed calm and quiet so to not introduce more trouble. No arm waving allowed.
  4. I called on the available expertise.
  5. As a team, we invented a solution one step at a time. We did not sit down and plan it abstractly. All of it was in action. If the action worked, we kept going, if not, we made up a new step.
  6. There was no blame anywhere.
  7. Once resolved, we got moving on the primary commitment – running.

The rest of the trip consisted of checking turns on the route, building my and Sakani’s ability to communicate about turns and enjoying the ride. Back at the truck, my job again became the steward: water, praise and a warm box on the truck for each dog.

What I learned from the sled dogs

So, what does this adventure have to do with coaching and leading based on stewardship, relationships, and faith in human organizations? If stewardship is choosing service over self-interest, then the simple acts of tending the needs of the team must be the beginning and the end. No fancy program or set of principles or strategies can replace them. Some of the acts are spoken, some are in silence. Many would be called menial.

Relationships begin before the adventure and are the basis for success. They are all there is to call on when plans come unknotted. They are strengthened by making requests and not pushing it. (When I was cutting the dogs’ toenails, I let them walk away when they wanted to, then called them back. When they’d had enough of my clumsiness, we stopped for the time being). Unless relationships have choice for all the parties, they are a dictatorship.

Faith in each other and our ability to figure out what to do next provides a foundation for venturing into the unknown. Each time we make a change, take on a new project, or have a meeting is a venture into unknown territory. Since there is no guarantee, it is an act of faith.

When we call to the team we are making an invitation. If they don’t accept it, we must start once again by doing the simple tending. I’m very clear that humans and dogs aren’t the same and business is not exactly the same as going for a sled ride, but don’t we sometimes make assumptions about our relationships with people that even a dog wouldn’t accept?

Planning for perfection cannot replace strong relationships

As for “flawless”, in my experience planning for perfection is a formula for falling short. Strong relationships between skilled partners and exercising faith in each other over and over during action are as close to flawlessness as we’re going to get – or need to be.

This article was written by Samuel P. Magill and was originally printed in Flawless Consulting Field Guide and Companion by Peter Block