Archive for Business Transformation


Driving Successful Change by Engaging the Entire Person

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Most change programs use tools and tactics which focus on building knowledge and skills.  Telling people what they need to do and providing resources and training to execute those activities.  While this is a great start, focusing on only those two elements (what I call the Head and the Hands) misses a crucial element of total engagement and long-term support, the Heart. 

How might your project soar if you focused on more ways to get to the heart of the matter?

How might your project soar if you focused on more ways to get to the heart of the matter?

In business settings we are often uncomfortable (a feeling) discussing emotions and how they are affecting the employees.  But they are part of every human being.  They drive both decision making and behaviors, whether we are conscious of this or not.  To truly drive effective change, you need to engage the Heart, where our motivation comes from.  Simply knowing something isn’t enough to drive people to make lasting behavior changes; they need to be emotionally engaged.  

I call this the Head-Heart-Hands model. 

Individuals need to be:

  • Ready … to take on the changes and accept the new way of thinking and / or behaving
  • Willing … to visibly sponsor and promote changes as the right thing to do
  • Able … to perform in the new manner, with the new processes, tools, and applications

It is critical to recognize the importance each of these components and build change programs and activities to support all aspects.  A change effort is most successful when you engage the entire person, their Head, Heart, and Hands.

I’ll close with a few items for you to ponder:

  • When was the last time you had a conversation at work about emotions?
  • How do you factor emotions into planning your change programs?
  • For change programs which were less successful was something left out? 
  • For change programs that were highly successful, were all elements included?
  • What actions can you take to actively engage the Heart, the emotions?  
  • When you as an individual believe you have been “heard”, how do you feel?  How motivated are you? 

I like to be treated like a whole person.  Don’t you?

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I was recently reading a blog article titled “Stop with the “vision” stuff.”  While the article itself was thought provoking, it was the comment string that I found fascinating.  There were so many examples of disconnects between Strategy and Execution.  The value of Strategy setting, Mission statements, Visioning, and business concepts such as Manage by Objectives (MBO) has been lost in so many ways.

Any tool or approach can be good or bad, it’s all about how it is executed.  In one of the comments the individual was heavily bashing MBO.  MBO is not a bad concept –  it’s a very valid one.  The problem (as can be observed by the story shared by binab&madbadbearbox in the comment thread) is that the Objectives are not always consistent.  Add to that, Individual Objectives are not necessarily the same as Business Objectives.  The story binab&madbadbearbox shared was an example of the individual in sales driving towards their own personal Objectives, which were not necessarily aligned with the Business Objectives.

You need to know where you are going, what you want to accomplish, how you plan on getting there (yes, having that plan AND adapting it), and then knowing how to measure yourself against that plan.  Too often Mission, Vision, and Strategy statements are that, statements.  They are created and then set aside.  They cease to have any meaning or value.  They can have value and should have value.  They need to be integrated into the business, used as guideposts.

 I net it down to a few simple, yet important concepts:

  • Where are you going? – this is your Vision
  • What you want to accomplish/Who you want to be – this is your Mission
  • How do you plan to get there (high level) – this is your Strategy
  • Actions you will take to get there – these are your Tactics

In setting up Synergetic Solutions, I also spent time creating Guiding Principles.  These are concepts of regarding how I and my business operate.  While the list may not be that long, I spent a considerable amount of time really thinking about these and what they meant for both myself and the business.  The value isn’t simply that they exist, but what they mean and how they affect business decision-making on an on-going basis.

I make decisions on a regular basis based on alignment to principles, strategy, and vision.  They are all living, breathing concepts, not something written once and ignored.

It’s both Strategy + Execution. Knowing where you want to go, what it will take, and taking actions to get there.


What is the Change Revolution?

It’s many things.  The most important part being YOU! 

You impact the people around you each day in more ways that you can imagine.  How you act, react, and behave influences those around you.  

I’m personally on a mission to bring positive change to both businesses and to the people around me.  It’s not about dissatisfaction but rather about driving positive change.  I first wrote about this in my article The Revolution of One.  

We as individuals have more power than ever before.  We can each take accountability for our own behaviors.  Too often people slip into behaviors because it is easy.  They think “I don’t want to rock the boat.”  To this I ask if not you, than who? 

I believe that we should say “I can make a difference.”  I’ll do the right thing even if it might be harder to do. 

I believe that we each set an example, whether positive or negative, for those around us.

I firmly believe that if enough people act as individuals to be accountable and behave collaboratively we can gain momentum and begin the change process, even if organizational leadership is on board. 

For the American Revolution, it started somewhere, with someone believing things could be different.  There was no leader at the top.  It was individuals banding together because they believed things could be different.  Eventually leaders emerged.


Who’s Involved in the Revolution?

I wrote about a few individuals who I believe are positive change leaders in my article about Penguin Leadership.  I have another name to add to the list of Penguin Leaders, Heather Stagl.   Heather is a blogger and radio host of “The Change Agent’s Dilemma: How to Influence Change Without Authority” on BlogTalkRadio.  She is the author of the book, 99 Ways to Influence Change.  Below I’ve included a copy of her favorite blog from last year, 3 Traps that Keep Change Agents from Getting the Support They Need.

Last month, Heather interviewed Garrett Gitchell (one of the Penguins), President at Vision to Work  for her Radio Show.  To listen to Garrett’s show click here.  I’m up tomorrow, June 21st, for her 11 am ET show.  Click here to listen to my show live.

The title for the show is the “Revolution of One: Finding the Courage to Drive Change.”  A few of the questions we will seek to answer include:

  • What it means to be a Revolution of One?
  • Who can start a revolution?
  • How do you know you need to start one?
  • What about driving change requires courage?
  • How do you build courage?
  • Where does it come from?

Need Some Help?

If you would like help working through your challenges, driving your individual or business changes, drop me a line.  I’d love to help you either change yourself, change your business, or drive your own Change Revolution.

As promised, here’s Heather’s article…

3 Traps that Keep Change Agents from Getting the Support They Need

“It is common knowledge that in order for your change initiative to grow beyond your own span of influence you need leadership buy-in.  The truth is you need much more than approval; as a change agent you need leaders in your organization to take action that supports your initiative.

The trouble is, leaders often don’t do what is needed to implement change, even if they agree it should happen. You may think, If only they would (fill in the blank), you would be able to make some real progress.

This lack of proper leadership support is the top challenge for most change agents.  It frequently stays that way because change agents get stuck by the following traps.

1.  “It’s not my place.”

Allison was a supervisor who had been given a special assignment to implement the recommendations that resulted from an employee survey.  The biggest roadblock to improvement, she decided, was her boss’s boss, the very person who had commissioned the survey.  Allison’s boss agreed but would not do anything about it.  “What can I do?” Allison asked, “It’s not my place to address the issues with my boss’s boss.”

The organizational hierarchy can seem like an insurmountable hurdle over which to affect change.  When the person whose support you need is outside of one degree of authority, it can seem like political suicide to attempt to do something about it.  From this position of helplessness, it is easy to get stuck hoping he will figure it out on his own.

2.  “That’s just the way they are.”

Dan was a senior manager who worked directly for the CEO.  Dan’s key initiative to improve the company was to develop and solidify accountability to procedures.  The CEO, while supporting the initiative verbally, did not want to abide by procedures himself.  It was the CEO who had embodied the previously lackadaisical culture.  “I can’t do anything about it.  That’s just the way he is,” Dan lamented.

We often assume that the behaviors of others reflect an inner character trait.  This assumption is so common that psychologists call it the fundamental attribution error.  When you consider that someone will not support you because it is part of his DNA, of course you would automatically chalk it up as a lost cause.  You get trapped knowing it is impossible to change someone else.

3.  “He just doesn’t like me.”

John was a project manager who needed key data from the manager of another department.  However, John’s phone calls and e-mails requesting the information were repeatedly ignored.  John asked his boss to request the same information, and it was immediately handed over.  “Maybe she just doesn’t like me,” was John’s reasoning.

This trap is the mirror image of the fundamental attribution error.  Instead of thinking the lack of support is caused by her character, you think the lack of support is your own fault.  Whenever you interpret her behavior as a personal slight – she doesn’t respect you, she doesn’t like you, she doesn’t trust you – it traps you with self-doubt.  Insecurity is a lousy place from which to exert influence as a change agent.

Allison, Dan and John are composites of real change agents who were stuck.  But none of their traps were inherently real.  The traps were assumptions they made about the leaders and the organization.

The first step in getting out of a trap is to recognize that you may be in one.   Separate the facts from your assumptions about them.  From there, you can select a new point of view and step out of the trap, so you can find new ways to get the support you need to implement change.”

If you liked Heather’s article on 3 Traps that Keep Change Agents from Getting the Support They Need, you can read more of her blogs by clicking here.

A few weeks back I wrote Are You an Entrepreneur? … or Maybe Not?  In that article I mentioned a book soon coming to market by Carol Roth, The Entrepreneur Equation.  I’m thrilled to announce that the book has arrived.  Not only has it arrived, it arrived in true Carol Roth style.

I met Carol last year at the World Business Forum.  She is a savvy female executive, who not only plays in the big leagues, she does it on her own terms and with her own style.  If you doubt that, check out those pink shoes!  Carol has never shied away from hard facts and uncomfortable realities, especially when it comes to the business world.

Carol’s book can help you answer more than just “Could I be an entrepreneur?” but rather “Should I be an entrepreneur?”  We all probably can be if we wanted it bad enough.  If we threw enough time, energy, and money at it.  However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  You can jump off the roof of a house, but should you.  It’s your choice.

The Entrepreneur Equation outlines a framework for both new entrepreneurs evaluating whether to start a business as well as current entrepreneurs who are overwhelmed and overworked or even evaluating the future of their business model.  It’s unlike other books out there that promise “seven steps to success”.  To quote Carol, “those seven step are B.S. – entrepreneurship isn’t one size fits all.”   

Success as a business owner is dependent upon your own circumstances, goals and objectives at any given time.  What’s a good risk/reward tradeoff for you is entirely different from what’s a good tradeoff for anyone else.  Carol’s book gives you a framework to maximize your own personal success, based on your goals and objectives, not someone else’s.

During this week, you can take part in Carol’s Power of Three.  So what is The Power of Three (other than a Charmed episode)?  Well, for every copy of The Entrepreneur Equation you pre-order through by February 18, 2011, you:

1 – Help yourself (or perhaps a client, colleague, friend or family member) stack the odds of success in your or their favor;

2 – Help a small business succeed, as Carol will match your purchase by donating a copy to her non-profit partner SCORE ( to give their volunteers another tool to help them grow successful small businesses; and

3 – Help both Carol and myself to achieve our personal goals of spreading this important message and seeing this book succeed.

In addition, if you buy even just one book through the site, you will also receive a free 3-part audio series: Strategies for Getting Your Company, Your Product or Yourself on TV & Other Free Press with Emmy award winners, TV anchors and PR veterans, as well as Carol’s own insights on how she landed her tv pilot deal and other press.

Check out Carol’s other offers, which includes an amazing contest where other entrepreneurs have offered generous prizes, such as Michael Port (private mentoring session at his house worth $1999), Les McKeown (a seat in his Predictable Success workshop worth $3500), a strategy session with the amazing Liz Strauss, a mega-star membership to Online Videopolis (worth $2364), and many, many more.  Visit for details and to purchase.

Want to know more?  Here’s a few of the examples of those “right questions” in the book :

  • Are you going to create a “salable” business, rather than a “jobbie or a “Job-Business  
    • There’s a great chart in the book that breaks this down.
  • How are you with your personal finances? 
    • If you can’t manage your own finances, then “you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur trying to manage a business (and implicitly, the business’s finances)“. 
  • Are you willing to put in a LOT of hard work and practice? 
    • The “Secret” of success is not just a great idea, a positive attitude, and venture funding. 
  • Are you a “Santa or an Elf”? 
    • Are you better at giving direction, or taking direction?  If you are the latter, it will be very, very hard to run a business on your own.
  • Are you “too smart for your own good”? 
    • Do you have problems giving up control over anything because “nobody can do it better than you”?  Carol has quite an interesting take on this one. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely thinking about starting their own business – it’s a great reality check that covers all the bases.  It’s caused me to stop and assess where my own business as well as what my personal goals and objectives really are.

Here’s to Doing Your Own Math (not someone elses) and finding your own answer to The Entrepreneur Equation.  Whatever your answer is, it’s the right one for you, rather than for someone else.

Back to that unique Carol Roth style, here’s a link to a story about her Carol Roth doll.  It’s fabulous.   Here’s a link to win one of the Carol Roth dolls for those who are interested.  And yes, I did enter the contest myself.

I recently read an extract of a book called Never Get a Real Job written by Scott Gerber.  If you would like to see the extract, click here.   While I appreciate the fact that Scott is direct and honest about the challenges of entrepreneurship, I do not care for his tone or the way he “devalues” what he refers to as a “real” job.

Scott believes that for Gen Y, working for someone else is a fool’s game.  Not only do I disagree, I feel it is extremely short sighted.  He paints both Gen Y and entrepreneurship with too broad a brush.

I’ve personally seen both sides of this equation, working for a company and working for myself.  Both have a myriad of pluses and the minuses.  There absolutely is something great to be said about regular hours and a regular paycheck.  There absolutely are jobs, roles, projects that people enjoy where they aren’t working for themselves.  Scott doesn’t seem to think so.   

Entrepreneurship is a 24×7 role, particularly at the start.  Did you know that up to 90 percent of businesses fail within the first five years?  It’s important that you think long and hard before you invest your precious time, money and energy.  You must be committed mentally, emotionally, and financially. 

There are times in your life where it’s likely a better “fit” to be an entrepreneur than others.  If you care about individuals outside of yourself – say a spouse or children – the impact to their lives also must be factored in.  That “real” job that Scott dishes so badly can provide lots of time for your family that you won’t have when you are trying to start your own business. 

To me, the decision to start a business should be based on desire, personality, drive, and interests, not your generational group.  Being an entrepreneur is not always better than working at a company.  It’s simply different.  It’s a different choice that either does or does not make sense to the individual, and only at that point in time.  You might reach a different decision at a different point in time.  

I worked in the corporate world first, for nearly 20 years.  Now I work for myself.  As the owner of a small consulting firm, my business builds on everything that I learned over the last 20 years.  I cannot see doing the type of consulting that I do now as a recent college graduate, MBA or not.  It would not have made sense.  The experiences that I gained working for Accenture and Deloitte are priceless in reaching the point that I am today and doing the kind of work I truly love, high impact Strategic Change and Lionhearted Coaching.

There can be great value and great reward in “real” jobs.  In fact, there are many individuals for which entrepreneurship is simply not a good fit.  

Something I particularly disliked is Scott’s reference to the cliché that “whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”  I have many more years, challenges, and experiences that tell me this is not always true.  Real life lessons, from the trenches, both in the corporate world and as an entrepreneur.  To me, sometimes the greatest strength comes from saying No, this did Not make me stronger…but that’s OK and I’ll move on.  It’s the moving on that is critical.

In my experience (both personal and observed), this cliché can add to individual’s feelings of failure when they don’t feel, believe, or have the ability to come out stronger.  It can, in the end, make a situation worse rather than help the person if you hold to tightly to that belief.

Part of my root concern regarding his books is that that there may be social pressures for Gen Ys.  That they may feel they “ought to” be an entrepreneur.  You should be an entrepreneur if there is something that are passionate about.  If you have the internal drive and motivation to do so, not because it’s what your generation does.  Isn’t that really the same as Boomers working in traditional structures because that is what their generation does?

It’s about who you are, what you are passionate about, where you feel you can make an impact, and yes, balancing all the dimensions of your life.  Priorities change over time.  Make sure you are doing the right thing for you at the right time, not just doing what you feel you “ought” to.

For my money, I’d wait for Carol Roth’s book, The Entrepreneur Equation to come out.   It’s due out March 8, 2011, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon.  Carol is a straight shooter and will help you do the  math to find out if entrepreneurship is right for you.  Here’s a link to Carol’s web-site if you want to find out more about who she is, her advice, and her new book. 

Carol’s book can help you answer more than just “Could I be an entrepreneur?” but rather “Should I be an entrepreneur?”   We all probably can be if we wanted it bad enough.  If we threw enough time, energy, and money at it.  However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  You can jump off the roof of a house, but should you.  It’s your choice.


Are you taking steps to build Greatness?

The opening speaker at the World Business Forum 2010  was Jim Collins.  What an opening! 

The following article written by my colleague Maureen Metcalf of Metcalf & Associates.  While I tweeted away during the event, she focused on writing blog articles.  Rather than reinvent the wheel so to speak, I will be posting the series of articles that she wrote.  Here’s the first of Maureen’s articles.

“Mr. Collins spoke about the syntheses of Good to Great, Built to Last, and how the Mighty Fall.  Sustaining Great Results What does a Level 5 Leaders do?

1.  Combat Hubris through ruthless self examination.  Level 5 Leaders are committed to the truth over the image they have of themselves and their companies.  They understand that only through rigor and discipline in thinking and action will the success continue long term.  They have the courage to ask the tough questions about their companies and themselves that enable them to face changing times.

2.   Combat the desire for too much too quickly. Level 5 Leaders understand the “right pace” for long term sustainable growth.  If a leader is building an organization that will last for 25 years and even 100 years, what does he/she need to do today to move forward 1 step today?  Great leaders build the team who can execute on goals and values impeccably then expand.  They regroup and recharge and plan before each next step to ensure successful implementation.

3.   Face the Brutal Facts and Act – Level 5 Leaders are willing to face the brutal facts and take the difficult action.  With a 25 year vision, clear values and principles, they make the tough decisions that will produce long term sustainable progress because it is what needs to be done.  This can mean making major changes to projects or products they value and may have created.

4.  Commit to Discipline and Rigor – Level 5 Leaders know that there are no quick fixes or short cuts to greatness.  Daily discipline and right action from all employees creates great results.  These results are not immediately visible.  Success is a combination of quick wins and long term daily actions aligned with the organizations’ goals and principles.

5.  Commit to Creating Value – Level 5 Leaders meet a need in the community that is not being filled by others.  They are driven by passion and commitment to improve the world – not for fame. They do what they do because at their core they are doing what they are called to do.   By responding to a larger purpose, the leader is able to make the tough calls at times with high personal cost.  They are able to make the toughest of calls.

Level 5 Leaders create long term value for their companies, employees, communities and the world by taking these actions.”

Faith here again – If you are interested in building Level 5 Leaders, I highly recommend talking with Maureen as business is building Level 5 Leaders.  You can visit her web-site for more information both about Level 5 Leaders and her companies services.


Are you Being Lionhearted © or are you just one of the crowd?

The second day of the World Business Forum 2010 is complete.  The speakers today talked about economics, the environment, politics, culture, product selection, survival, and the film industry to name a few.  One theme that emerged for me was the need for courage. 

This is something that I have been pondering for a while.  The courage that it will take from many individuals, both on their own and working together to drive true, lasting, sustainable change.

Do you have the courage to:

  • Focus on the Long-term, not just the Short-term? 
  • Change the way you make decisions?
  • Make the less “popular” choices?
  • Make the choices for sustainability?
  • Speak the truth, not just what sounds good?
  • Dig into the details, not just the sound bits?
  • Be a Leader, not just a Manager or Executive?’
  • Talk about the Elephants in the room?
  • Change yourself?

Courage comes from many places and many sources.  But must come from within to be sustained.  Are you courageous?  I’m working on my Lion’s heart.  Come join me.

More to come about Being Lionhearted:  The Courage to Change © soon.  In the interim, see the WBF Bloggers Hub for comments and questions about being courageous.

Book to come – ebook or other tbd. 

In the interim, visit the Ponders & Insights over the next weeks and months for more on this topic. 

I would love to hear back from you about how you are courageous, when and where you have had the courage to change, and what you feel it takes to stand up and go against the crowd to do what you feel is right. 

Do you have stories about having the courage to change yourself and to be an example to others?  If so, I would love to hear them.


Are you putting all the pieces of what you learned together? Will you talk about what you see and the Elephants in the room?

The first day of the World Business Forum 2010 is complete.  The speakers entertaining and educating. 

The questions for me are:

  • Was the audience really enlightened? 
  • Did they truly listen to the messages, not just the words?
  • Will they truly take the core messages back to their businesses? To think about what it means to truly lead, not command and control?

While World Business Forum 2010 Day 1 is gone, the content it not?  When you do as Collins suggests, stopping one day for every two weeks of booked time (come on, try it), I encourage you to ponder, think, reflect, and visit or revisit the Bloggers Hub.  You’ll learn something new, provoke your thinking, and challenge yourself.  I promise!  I do every time I go back. 

Articles related to what was learned, shared, discussed, and reflected on during the World Business Forum are forthcoming over the next weeks and months.  My thanks to all the great bloggers, guests, and speakers who challenged my thinking and helped me to continue to drive myself and my thinking forward.  Cheers all.

Elephant #1:  We don’t truly value stopping to think, to reflect, to ponder. 

We tend to value action much more than reflection.  Doing over creating.  I’d like you to stop and think about that.  I’ll talk more about the motivation, drivers, and factors that drive this in a future blog.

I’m willing to talk about the Elephants in the room.  The truth of what it takes to change a company, to change a culture, to change yourself.  To be the Elephant Whisper.  Are you willing to talk with me?

Elephant Whisperer:  Strait talk about the Elephants in the Room ©

Book – ebook or hard copy tbd.  Look for a series of blogs/articles on this topic in the interim. 

Would love to hear back from you about the elephants that you see, how people deal with them (or not), and your personal stories.


Does the business, like the water, flow the same direction?

A recent Linked In group discussion revolved around how coaching does/does not fit in the Enterprise Architecture (EA) world.  Hum?  What do you think? 

I found it an interesting idea to ponder.  For this article, I’ve extracted the question and a portion of the responses.  

Defining Enterprise Architecture

At this point I would typically point you to Wikipedia for a good definition to provide some framing.  However, I found the Wikipedia content both lacking and under revision.  When I stepped back, I realized this shouldn’t be so surprising given the somewhat diverse views of EA.  To me, EA breaks down into two camps.

  1. IT-centric Enterprise Architecture.  I personally view this as Tech Arch, though there are many who will argue about this.
  2. Business focused Enterprise Architecture.  This broader, more holistic viewpoint is more in alignment with my personal view. 

The Initial Question, Thoughts & Ideas

James Lapalme •Should coaching being an element of enterprise architecture?  I completed a 1 week intensive life/professional coaching course last week.  The final course assignment was to coach a total stranger.  It was an amazing feeling to help a person with a topic which was dear to them.  The person I coached truly appreciated the experience.  People seem to really appreciate having someone to listen to them, and to help them sort out their thoughts.

Corporations would probably benefit from having coaching as an organizational component of their hierarchical structure.  They spend a lot of time on action, and put almost no emphasis on reflection.  Should this type of reflection be part of the enterprise architecture?

Faith Fuqua-Purvis • I cannot speak to whether it should be part of enterprise architecture, only to the value of coaching as well as some organizational observations and challenges.  My sense is that it would be difficult to gain acceptance of Coaching as a formal part of enterprise architecture across the board but that it might be accepted at some organizations.

  • It is often difficult to individuals to fully grasp the value of coaching until they experience it directly. 
    • This can be through a formal program such as you attended, a 1:1 coach, or through indirect coaching.  
  • I’ve observed that coaching is often associated with Mentoring.  While they are similar, I do believe that they are often executed in different manners with different motivators and drivers.
  • There has been a subtle perception/belief that Mentoring is to help move someone up the ladder to be more successful, while Coaching is more about “fixing” an issue or “bad behavior.” 
  • The skill set required to be a good coach is undervalued.  
  • Just like with consultants, there are good, very good, and “less good” coaches. 
    • I hesitate to say “bad coaches” as I don’t believe that anyone would label themselves as a coach without a minimum level of true coaching skills.

A good coach would listen in an authentic manner and seek ways to guide self revelations and self awareness.  There is a great difference in acceptance rates between telling someone something and allowing them to discover it for themselves.

To be a good coach you have to make a calculated choice as to when and how often to deliver a difficult message.  You need to weigh the balance of the objectives and desired outcomes of the interactions with the risks and potential land minds when talking about the metaphorical elephant in the room, overtly identifying and discussing the underlying motivations and drivers.  We all are challenged to really look in the mirror some days and truly see ourselves.  The image shown changes over time and should be revisited periodically.

Coaches can be hired or they can simply be people you work with or know, that help you gain a better understanding of yourself, how you operate, and how you interact with others.  The desired outcome being an improvement in how you are feeling about what you are doing and the ability to operate more effectively.

Ron Thiessen • I think that one of the most intriguing dynamics I have observed over the last 10 years or so is that we have invented numerous “time-saving” gadgets that have succeeded in monopolizing our time beyond all sane measure.  What this seems to have created is a rush toward initiation, progression, and completion of projects to the exclusion of thought-provoking analysis of pros and cons.  In the drive to the bottom line, most corporations do not have TIME to designate to the think tank.  And the type of reflection you refer to (I think) could become pretty scary because an individual might have to justify in his/her own mind why they are attempting to move at such a frenetic pace to reach…….what? 

The number of clients I see who are “burned out” as a result of work stress is mounting almost daily.  Invariably, one of the secrets of moving from stress to sanity is intensive self-reflection, bringing the sufferer back to the basics of existence and their Life Purpose.  If corporations understood the power of key employees who are at peace with their world, they would run, not walk, their employees to the nearest conference, seminar, life coach, or psychologist.

Ari Tikka • I second Ron. Run you fools… :)  I aim at making my every client a peer coach.  Think of a team with every member taking responsibility of leadership and peer coaching.  Sadly, the current disempowering management norm is weeding this kind of development away.  Short term wins.

Doug McDavid • This brings the human element into a topic (EA) that too often focuses on the technology, or, when human social systems are considered, they are in such abstract form that the person is lost.  Here’s the kind of problem that could be addressed by the right kind of coaching. 

Systems developers are motivated by the desire to do something helpful for the part of the business they are closely associated with.  After hundreds or thousands of well-intentioned efforts have proceeded, the bigger, enterprise-wide system of systems can be a big mess.  Enterprise architecture, with its attendant governance, tries to bring coherence to this mess, but apparently with a loss of autonomy of individual development efforts.  Coaching can help all parties to see other points of view, and achieve a balance of big picture and immediate practicalities.

James Lapalme • For me EA is about helping the organization to align all its dimensions (people, process and technology) in order to meet organizational visions and objectives.  These dimensions encompass elements such as organizational structure, capital expense models, IT, performance management, knowledge management, process design, etc.”

If you agree with my definition then you would probably agree that EA is basically strategic business planning.  In this context, my question becomes “Does coaching have a role in strategic business planning (especially when working with CxOs and senior executives)? 

And the discussion went on…. 

Defining Enterprise Architecture – Take Two

Let’s just say that I like James’s definition and leave it at that.

Some Closing Thoughts

So what are the takeaways?  What do I hope you will stop and ponder for a moment?

  • What does the term Enterprise Architecture mean to you? 
    • Do you think at the Enterprise Architecture level?
    • Is there a group focused on Enterprise Architecture at your organization?  If not, why not?
  • What is your personal view of the role of a Coach?
    • How might you personally or someone you know benefit from a Coach
    • Have you observed resistence to the concept of Coaching in your organization?  If so, what and why?
  • If you think coaching is valuable, how might you help your organization understand the value?
    • Do you feel that you could ask for a Coach?
  • Is there someone you could swap Coaching with?  You Coach them and they Coach you?
    • What are the challenges with this?
    • What might be the unique benefits?
  • What might be contributing to your own personal burnout?   
    • If you aren’t feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or a little crispy – Congratulations and share the secret!
  • Are you using Social Networking tools to engage in thought provoking dialogs? 
    • If not, why not?
    • Might this relate to part of what Ron touches upon?

The Challenge

Get yourself a Coach!  If you can’t afford to hire a professional Coach, I encourage you to actively seek out a friend or colleague who can act as a personal Coach.  It’s important to remember that this is not the same role as a mentor.  The person you ask needs to have a good level of empathy, interpersonal skills, understand psychological issues, and be willing to make the time investment to help you. 

The web is full of tools (some free, some not) that can help you conduct your own personality and behavioral analysis.   Its important to agree about what you want as an outcome and that both parties be committed to the process.  Good luck to both you and your Coach, should you decide to take on this Coaching Challenge!

Note:  These are only extracts 5 of the 16 posts in this discussion.  Discussions like this are a good way to challenge your and other’s thinking on a topic.  Edits did not include wordsmithing, rather deletion of content not relevant to this article.

Are you trying to juggle the world in your hands?

Do you feel like you are trying to juggle the world in your hands?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to be a Change Agent. 

  • What does it really mean to be a Change Agent? 
  • What does it take to drive lasting change?
  • How much physical, mental, and emotional energy does it take to make changes and truly make them stick?

Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of energy to change.  It can be an enormous amount of energy, especially when you are trying to project positive energy into a group.  The more places in your life you are working to make changes, the more people you are trying to impact, the more energy it takes.  I’ve recently determined that I’ve been trying to be a Change Agent in too many places at once – juggling too many balls at once.  I had hit my personal “change fatigue” wall.  I had lost my energy and was feeling like a Zero (O).  (For more information about what I mean by a Zero, refer to my first blog, The Revolution of One).  I was concerned about my ability to remain upbeat and positive.  How had this happened?  I didn’t want to be a O.  Yikes!

After talking with a colleague the phrase “coming from a place of hope” suddenly ran through my mind.  What the heck?  I realized that I was feeling more optimistic than I had the last several days.  I started to analyze (what, me analyze something?):

  • How did I feel mentally, emotionally, and physically at that moment in time?
  • What did this phrase mean to me?
  • Why had it come to mind?

I realized that I had unexpectedly had a “state change”.  While I was still feeling tired and overwhelmed I was now a bit more optimistic.  Not the “light at the end of the tunnel”, rather from a glass half-full rather than half-empty perspective.  It’s the place I want to be.  I believe that we can add or subtract energy from others around us individually and in groups.  That how we feel and the emotions we project affect others.   As I talked with my colleague, I’d been talking about the business environment, my views on change, and my sincere desire to have a positive impact on those around me and on business at large.  There have been huge amounts of stress in the work environment this past year (and at home too) for almost everyone. 

I wasn’t trying to execute anything, just talk about my perspectives and beliefs.  I explained that if I have a personal mission to have a positive impact on others.  That I believe in cascading impacts.  That if I could positively impact one person, they could have a positive impact on someone else, so on and so forth.  That we could together have a large, positive impact on the business environment.  Our own Revolution of sorts.  I think we need it in the business world.

In describing my fundamental beliefs, I had found some new energy.  I remembered the “root reasons” (vs. root cause) that I am a Change Agent.  By simply talking with me and validating my thoughts and work, my friend had been a Change Agent for me – providing some much needed positive reinforcement and new energy. 

It can be hard being the person that rattles cages, raises red flags, and points out the elephants in the room.  Candidly, it’s stressful and exhausting.  I don’t enjoy raising the flags or talking about the elephants, but someone needs to in order to drive long-term, sustainable change.  

Talking about problems, challenges, and pink elephants often raises fear and worry in others.  This can take excessive amounts of emotional energy to help manage effectively.  It’s something that most people are afraid to do, but something that must be done to make real and lasting changes.  You can’t drive successful change if you aren’t willing to discuss problems and history.  If you are not honest and “real” about situations, there will simply be some head nodding in the room when you discuss new or desired behaviors.  When people leave, they will go back to their old behaviors – quicker than you might think.

What my friend had done for me was to validate that while I can’t please everyone and might feel personal stress about acting the “troublemaker,” what I was doing was important.  I had left the conversation with a renewed sense of purpose and personal hope.  “Coming from a place of hope” described how I was feeling at the moment.  It struck me that this too was a powerful thought.  That where there is hope, there are possibilities.  Where there are possibilities, change can happen.  That having a feeling of hope had actually helped counter my feeling of exhaustion (no, not all of it, but some). 

I stepped back from myself to acknowledge that I can’t be “on” all the time as I had been trying to do.  That it’s not realistic to think you can always be a One (1).  While I do want to drive a Revolution, (see The Revolution of One), there are times I might need to be a O, at least for a little while, so that I can go back to being a 1 later on.  That in the real world, unlike my technological metaphor, there are in-between states – ½, ¾, 5/6.  Those are also ok places to be. 

So I decided that for the next several days I’ll focus on the idea of hope, recognize the bumps in the road, acknowledge that there are day’s I might need to be less than a 1.  I’ll remind myself, work on feeling, and believe that I am coming from a place of hope and that’s good enough for now.  I’ll accept that it’s ok to be a ½, neither a O or a 1 for the time being.  I’ll be a ½ with hope for a better tomorrow and the belief that with some rest and sleep (not always the same thing) that I could go back to being the 1 that I want to be. 

So my personal lesson for today was to hold tight to hope and possibilities.  To accept that when you can’t be a whole (1) it’s ok to be a ½.  Give yourself partial credit. 

Change is hard.  Being the Change Agent can be even harder.  Change is tiring and never happens all at once. 

So my wish and hope for all of you is that you too find a piece of hope today and each day forward.  That you give yourself credit for what you have accomplished, rather than focusing on how far you still have to go.  That you find your own place of hope, piece of inspiration, and some renewed belief.  This can come from the smile of a colleague or a child, taking time to stop to look out a window at the flowers and trees (or the snow if it’s winter).  Find something in your environment around you that you can draw inspiration and hope from.  Stop, Look, and Listen not to understand others better, but to pause for yourself.  To give yourself a break and some personal recognition. 

I ask that you can continue to join me as we make our own Revolution at whatever level you can, one day at a time, one person at a time, one situation at a time.  For today, I’ll continue to focus on being a Change Agent-at-Large, even only at half-strength.  I’ll keep my hope for better tomorrow.  I absolutely believe that together we can change many things.  A little bit at a time isn’t simply good, it’s GREAT.

So here is my “true confession.”  I actually drafted this article several months ago.  Life (and all the winter flu varieties) simply got out of control and I never finalized this post.  Some days I felt a bit guilty, but I worked to remind myself that any forward progress was good and 1/2 was ok.  I asked myself if it really mattered if the story went up in October or in January.  You, the reader don’t really care do you?  As I start the New Year and seek to post articles and stories more actively, I pulled the draft of this article out and made the final edit.   

So what are the key messages I hope you take from this article?

  • Being a Change Agent is hard work.  It can be stressful and exhausting.  But if you don’t do it, who will?
  • It’s critical to rattle the cages, raise flags, and point out the elephants.  If you don’t talk about them and address them, it is unlikely that change with “stick”.  Again, if you don’t do it, who will?
  • There is a great level of stress that comes with always being “on”?  A simply analogy is a light bulb.  It gets hot and burns out quicker if it is always on.  When natural light is available or no one is around, shutting it off prolongs the life of the light bulb.  We need to do the same for ourselves.
  • Have you thought how “change fatigue” applies not just to change programs, but to yourself also? 
    • Are you planning appropriate breaks for yourself and within your change program? 
    • Are you taking care of yourself physically, recognizing how your health impacts your ability to create change?
    • Are you giving yourself appropriate mental breaks?
    • Are you giving yourself the credit that you should?
  • Are you recognizing that any forward progress is good, even if it took longer than you had initially planned or scheduled?
  • Are you familiar with the concept of diminishing returns? 
    • Can you recognize when you have reached that point? 
    • Can you tell yourself it is ok to step back and not work on something for a while?  Regain your energy and start again.  You will likely get farther.

A huge THANKS and virtual hug to my friend Ron for providing positive feedback in a time of need.  A shout out of THANKS to my spouse, Bruce, for his on-going support of my efforts big and small, including providing feedback on this blog.  He rocks.

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes