Day 0 – The Network Came to Help


M&A Reflection

My job changed January 1st, 2016, the first day of what we called “NewCo.”  There was a lot of talk about “Legacy” company x and y.   All I really knew was that the culture and feel of the company I was working for had changed.

Regardless of what it became, it simply wasn’t what it was.  My new manager was dramatically different from the leadership I had.   The feel of the language changed and it was up to the employees of the company acquired to learn it.    I was thankful to have an opportunity to serve this new company, but I also recognized that I was an artifact of the old.   Ironically, I was new to the old company and had just started to get settled into the culture.   It wasn’t easy to learn the culture of a company with a rich history of over 130 years, but I did have pride in the company.

When I initially joined, I interviewed leaders, peers and staff across the company.  It was a learning experience similar to a consulting engagement except that I chose them and they chose me to be with them for my career.  I was honored, humbled, proud, excited, nervous, hopeful and I had so much energy that it just poured out of me.

My Global CIO was challenging corporate norms, he was constantly critiqued about his decisions and under considerable pressure from those he served.   His motto was “To deliver on commitments and exceed expectations.”   His office was behind a security door, but he wasn’t there in the office, he was out with us on the floor.   He told me when I first joined that my most important job was to work with partners and understand what they needed, why they needed it, and find ways to help, not hinder.   Beyond that he told me that he was counting on me to keep our promises.


As I started to learn more about the company and meet people along the way, my network started to grow.  The opportunity to meet people and learn about what they do for a living was fascinating.  The experience that people have over careers spanning, in some cases, 45 years, all came with stories.  Lessons, instruction, passion, love and thoughts of the future were all there.   It was a true blessing to have this opportunity to learn.   Senior leaders, like the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) opened the door for conversation and education.   The Innovation Officer taught a master class on the insurance industry with every exchange.   His understanding of the industry and his knowledge of how things worked at the company were so wide and deep that I would have to take snapshots of the whiteboard or come up to see him with a computer or notepad on every occasion.   He shared his knowledge and made certain that when I walked out of the office that I could understand the language, the story, and his intention.    Beyond that, his leadership style was familiar to me from my military history of working with DoD leadership.   Both the CIO and CInnO,  believed in excellence and backed it with their leadership.

The days were filled with learning to negotiate and build the partnership network.  Some people outwardly rejected the work I brought and others embraced it.   Where doors opened, we built relationships day by day.   One of my team members leading a strategic program and project organization would meet me every Tuesday.   She was an organizational coach and friend that would allow me to bounce ideas off and discuss pain points.   She helped me navigate the daily challenges.   The CIO presented everyone on our team an opportunity for leadership coaching with a company called “Brand Velocity” with leaders coming from various industries.  These folks could walk into a room and know everything about you in a Gladwell Blink.   They didn’t leave that first assessment to make a decision about us individually, they gave us a chance.   One of the coaches said, “I don’t coach B players, once I confirm where you are, if you are an A, we are going to get you to A+ and beyond.”  I was humbled by the investment by my company and that I had a chance to sit with and talk to global leaders in industry.   What I found was caring people coming from years of experience where there was recognition that companies have to make tough decisions, but they can make these with integrity and respect for their employees.

From my perspective, it took a chunk of the company and consultants to coach me and interact with me for me to be an effective leader.   I also made friends with brilliant people across the organization.  Some have become close personal friends that I cherish the relationships.

Down Shift

I took a turn with all the support in 2015 and got on the highway of successful growth.  Our projects and initiatives were at the bleeding edge of what is now being discussed and known as “Digital Workplace.”   My partnerships with HR, IT, Business leaders,  Innovation and others felt like a family matter.    We had challenges and difficult things to work on, but my team was empowered to do what they needed to do.  In fact,  without the good graces of my team (you know who you are Tina, Deb, Jane, Pat, Ian, Mitch, Terri).  In the beginning we had only 6 + Mitch.   With their support, we were imagining possibilities and realizing them in short order.   I would also like to state for the record that most folks were either late Gen X or Boomer.    Once they gave me a chance,  I couldn’t help but literally experience their support.   The projects and initiatives saved the company millions of dollars in 3-6 months of operation.  The savings spilled over to revenue generation and we were all at a loss in terms of words to express our excitement.

Tina wrote something recently in reflection of our experience. The Howie Experience  they are her words untouched in anyway by me.

As we accelerated and gained momentum by the forces of the crowd and our network, we were consistently writing, learning, and adjusting to meet growing demands.   While we were a small team initially, we grew our work across the many.   By the end of 2015, we realized savings and reallocation of monies into 20 million dollars.   While all this was wonderful,  our team was aware in mid-2015 that things would change in 2016.

On January 1, 2016, we were faced with integrating new team members and down shifting our work.   Our focus moved more towards technology and our team size at that point was over 5x larger.    We had to quickly regroup and adjust.   (Probably a good story for another time.)  To note, many of the people that merged with my team became a part of the family.  I will leave their names from here out of respect for their current role and position.

The Network

My personal network from my years at Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin,  Joint Forces, Exxon Mobil and friends I have met along the way had always been strong.  In my life,  I have been more than lucky to meet people that I share a bond of brotherly connection, kindness, respect, and admiration.    These people became family and I never let them go and they never let me go to far as well.  In a recent presentation by Kim Bullock and Wendy Woodson at KM World, Wendy and Kim explained to a packed room of KM’ers that our external network has been critical to our internal organizational success and that our connection to others is one of our greatest strengths.   As they presented,  I could only feel pride that after all these years, we kept so closely tied.  No geographic or work boundaries could keep us from helping each other and others.

My network and my relationships are what drive me.  My passion to help others is only exceeded by my humility on how others have helped me.    When people ask me over the years why I would help or advocate for them,  my answer is simple,  it is my way of paying it forward.   If you are reading this and you know me, I am talking about you.

My Next

On Monday, November 6th, I was informed that as a result of the M&A, a large portion of my team would be released from our current responsibilities.   While this is difficult for all involved,  it wasn’t a day of sadness.   On that day for myself and my team, my network came out and hugged me both virtually and physically.  I literally called a very good friend and recent business partner and asked him if he was heading down 200 miles to KM World.   His response was, “I am on my way, and I am coming to get you now. Be ready.”    I jumped in the car and we drove down to KM World where many of my closest friends were.   It was an outpouring of understanding and connection.    While I don’t know where the road will take me from here,  I know that without a doubt my network is full of people that I am absolutely proud and honored to have a connection to.

On my first day of my next chapter,  I wasn’t alone.   My network of family and friends were there and gave me the positive reassurance, advice, and empathy that I needed to take my next steps.   I am thankful, grateful, and honestly humbled by you and I won’t let you down.


Categories KM

Twitter: Judge, Jury & Executioner

The Social Truth

An allegation is an assertion until it can be proven but this doesn’t stop companies from reacting immediately to a social truth.

I define a social truth as something that is true because it is supported or corroborated to some extent on social media.   The result is that many voices become one message which may or may not be factual but seemingly without hard facts (at the point of entry onto social media) true.

This is a really difficult issue and highly concerning for our time.    In a recent television show,  Seth MacFarlane actually addresses the complexity of this in Orville “Majority Rules”  As a side note on this,  I think MacFarlane is paying a true homage to Star Trek (original series).

As we are living in this new norm of social media,  I believe this is very dangerous.   I use social media and I believe it is a powerful tool for communication.   The concern is that we are heading towards and even living in a “mob rules” aka Ochlocracy situation.   Whether political, social, military or corporate action taken on social media, the result recently has been immediate action.    The new normal in business is “speed” and “sentiment” but this has many costs and risks associated that follow.   In the entertainment business there are billions of dollars at stake and while this alone may not be a big deal to normal people, it sets a precedence that is concerning.


Social @ Work

Generally speaking social media at work has been helpful to companies.   There have been a few situations (Google most recently) where social has created an issue that became public.   It seems that as quickly as these things bubble up, they also go away.

They go away from our view, but what reminiscence they leave behind and the troubles or costs are troubling.    Many companies today are moving away from community management and now leaving communities to self-govern.   The result is internal mob rules which is also dangerous.   CEO’s can get ousted based on an implication.   Careers can be destroyed because someone made a statement.    What is starting to happen is people are becoming more fearful in some cases and embolden in others.   Having courage to speak your mind in a corporate setting is important but the channels in which we use are also critically important.

Whether or not for example Uber former CEO Travis Kalanick is guilty of the actions in which he is accused it should have been independent of Uber itself.   Many people today won’t take Uber just because it feels wrong.

Law and Justice

We need fairness in our society.   We need to be consistent and we need law to keep order.   In the world we live in,  it is dangerous for our families and our children because we are always recorded and there is no forgiveness of words or actions recorded.   A record automatically put on social media becomes the fact and that fact is judged with immediacy.  The public is now prosecuting people through this record and the higher the counts of which people speak of an action or deed, the faster things happen.   It isn’t that way in every single case, but it becoming that way more often.    It is driving us apart as a nation and it is impacting us on a global scale.   It is now becoming harder and harder to know what is true and what is not.

There is a difference between free speech and yelling about danger in a movie theater.  What we may be doing today on social media is the equivalent of yelling “fire” on a scale never before seen.

Community Management

I think we can have our say as a society and have safety at the same time.   Community managers have historically and successfully been involved with cultivating and managing social communities.   They look for indicators and help facilitate and control conversation.   They exist today on Wikipedia and Quora and many other places but they really don’t have a strong presence in other areas.   That’s not to say there aren’t controls in place but there aren’t community managers.    We need to find ways to inject people into situations where things are trending high to make decisions on when to buffer conversations.   This doesn’t mean to control or stifle conversation, it simply means to take a look at what and where people are yelling “fire” and make a determination as to potentially pause the discussion for the greater good.   This is dangerous territory and a tough subject but I believe if we keep going down this road as-is,  there will be proverbial hell to pay.

What are your thoughts? if-all-you-had-was-a-hammer



Categories KM

How to FIX the Talent Shortage


There is NO Shortage

I started a new role in Knowledge Management and within the first 24 hours, my new boss told me that I had to replace everyone on my staff.

When I asked why,  he explained that

  1. They didn’t know Knowledge Management.
  2. They have been moved around a lot.
  3. They have a lot of experience (Understand?)

You know those moments in your life where you aren’t in danger but you still go into fight or flight mode?   I was in shock that someone would say anything like this to me no less on the first day of my new job.

So, you want me to …… let them all go?  

The answer from me was “NO” and the answer from me today is still “NO.”   This is part of the problem in large companies.  There is a lot of bullshit nonsense transformation and not enough thinking.    I refused to let anyone go and I went on to learn about this team .. my team.   They were experienced professionals that understood learning, training, performance and knowledge.  They were experts in Knowledge Management and corporate leaders including HR didn’t know it.    No one took the time to ask them and no one seemed to care.   It gets better though, not only could they do the things I envisioned for our company, they could do things that I had no idea about.   They had knowledge,  experience and ideas that far exceeded my own.   This team humbled me.

Unfortunately,  my experience is uncommon.  Most people in my position would have walked in and let them all go.   That is the truth.

The Message

Companies generally speaking don’t know who works for them.   Unless you are famous but even then, you could be forgotten and buried.   Think for a moment about your own company.   What do you know about people outside of your immediate circles? What do you know about the people you work with everyday?   Hobbies matter…  one person on my team today is an expert photographer and drone enthusiast,  one is an expert technologist including bleeding edge technologies,  some are experts in design, animals, plants, health..  it goes on.  That has nothing directly to do with their immediate job but since I know about what they can do, if I ask them to help with something or if they had an interest somewhere else in the company,  they COULD do it.

There is no labor shortage.    Companies are more willing to pay 3x for a person they believe is an expert vs pay less than 1.5x to upskill or cross train employees they already have on staff.

All of the new RPA skills are so new right?  How about … NO.     RPA the buzz is about software that does BPM in a much more sophisticated way.   Let’s call them technological cousins but the ideas and actual process may be exactly the same with the same desired outcome.   


If you want change..   If you are a leader that wants change ..    YOU have to change and YOU have to be part of change.   YOU have to stop the nonsense.

Where is the Staff?

There is a good chance.. that you have them already.   For the record though, let us say you don’t have them.

  1. University students – Can’t find work?  Link
  2. Veterans – Can’t find work? Link
  3. Minorities – Can’t find work? Link  (This link applies to woman as well).
  4. Women – Can’t find work?


Ask me about all of the talented people that I know looking for work.   The problem is with companies ignoring talent management.    The problem is that companies are reactionary.  “Oh shit, we need an AI expert.”    They don’t even know what that means.    One of my favorites was when I heard a leader say “We need an expert in development for the cloud.”   I asked what was the difference between developing in the cloud or on-premise,  and they were like “it’s too complicated to explain but there are many differences and that’s what we need, so find a cloud developer.”

The reason you can’t find what you are looking for is because you aren’t looking. 

If you want to fix the talent shortage in your company,  start by finding out who your employees are. 


Leave your brain at the door please…



Categories KM

20 ~ 20 CIO Challenges Simplify #warontalent



Top CIO issues persist because they aren’t CIO issues at all.   They are business and People issues that involve every business area.

  1. Talent Issues
  2. Innovation
  3. Speed to Market
  4. Security
  5. Automation
  6. Productivity and Experience
  7. Cost Reduction / Controls  (IT related and Business Related)
  8. Agility & Flexibility
  9. Culture
  10. Brand

A few ideas here to share..

Trust your team

If you knew everything you think you know, you wouldn’t be in the role you are in right now.  You would be somewhere else doing something else living the life of legacy.    Many leaders in these roles are hard to approach.  They don’t trust people inside their organization and they look for technical and business competency in other organizations or consultants.   They also think they are smarter and know more than they actually do.

Take the toilet as an example. As a thought experiment, would you be able to explain to someone else how a toilet works?  Most people can’t.   Oh, I know toilets aren’t IT systems.  Right they are just simple toilets.   There is a good chance as a reader that you actually don’t know how the toilet that you use every day works.    Point here is..   A business is run on collective organizational intelligence.   You are as smart as those that inform you and keep you up on knowledge and “in the know.”

If you trust your team, there is a very good change that they will tell you about the real problems in the organization.  They will tell you when they don’t know how to do something instead of doing all the guess work.


Stop Looking Outside

Hey, I get it..  you need IA, AI, RPA, RPA(I), Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud,  smarter systems, faster, faster, faster.  The board wants…  The CEO says..  The market is ..

All of that is bologna.

Sure,  we need to bring in outside expertise to do work.  Every company needs help and trusted partners.   The difference is that many leaders are always looking for answers outside.  They aren’t taking the time to learn about what they know inside.  They discount what they have in their own organizational intelligence.  They don’t listen.  Just think, in many cases you trust a stranger to tell you something that you wouldn’t trust a person that you vetted and hired to tell you.


Become Aware and Be Available

I get frustrated when leaders tell me they “can’t find the talent” or there is a “war for talent” and the market is so empty of people that have the right skills we need.  We have to pay so much to get help and these people are so rare.   Then when we find them, we lose them..

Yeah.. BOLOGNA.   Here is your problem.   You don’t know who you have in your company.  Your expert location system is broken ..  mostly because you don’t actually have an expert location system.  You may have profiles but they aren’t up to date.  Job descriptions aren’t up to date.  There is a very good chance that you have very little idea on what people inside your org can do.   On top of that, due to cost cutting, you had to “let people go.”   You could have just let go the best data scientist you had go but didn’t know it.  Many times,  companies cut people and it costs 3x to get someone in to do the job.   This is what happens.   HR doesn’t help because they really don’t know.   They are just pushing around the excel sheets with the names on them.   They can tell you about legal risks but they can’t tell you about the people individually.  They can tell you what to say and what rules to follow but they don’t tell you or encourage you to take the time to understand what the heck is really going on.

The answer is “Show Up” and I don’t mean that you personally have to show up every time but start teaching your team what that means.   You have to lead by example.  The reason people leave is because of their leadership.    The reason people leave is because they are frustrated.    Money doesn’t fix that.    Learn about being available and learn about finding ways to both technically and organizationally instill practices to discover the people in your organization.  Many tools available don’t cost a penny.   (Ask me how)

Introduce Change Management and Knowledge Management

Awareness in knowing that we don’t know is the first step.  The Dunning-Kruger effect: the unskilled just don’t know what they don’t know. This matters, because all of us are unskilled in most domains of our lives.

We need to learn and practice Knowledge Management.    If you want to learn more about KM (Here is a book by one of the best KM folks around)

The book doesn’t cost anything.. but .. if that is too much ..   You can learn somethings from

The underlying idea and premise is that we all should be able to discover (FIND) the best information and knowledge when we need it and where we need it to do what we need to do.   “The right information, at the right time, in the right context.”

Change Management..

If you don’t make the time to learn about these things, they will happen to you as opposed to you making them happen.    There are plenty of free change management resources out there.  There are practices that are proven as well.   Frankly,  the first step is realizing that you need bring these concepts into your life.  You need to learn about them and what they mean.   If you don’t.. then you will continue to go the conferences with the same problems year after year.  Listening to vendors, contractors and consultants advise you in 3 slides how they have solved all these problems for your competition and that YOU are behind.

Simplify by Allowing for Complication

Your child is getting ready for a heart transplant and you ask the doctor about the procedure.    How long will it take?  What do I need to worry about?  What are the risks? Many questions.   What if the doctor says “Don’t worry, I just read 3 slides and brought in a sub to take care of it.”   They have a process call prime, pull, press and progress.  They will come in and do some things that are really complicated and then the person (insert name here) will be ready for shipment.. or recovery.

You wouldn’t tolerate that.   You would be outraged but in business, this is what folks do.  We simplify very complicated concepts and we don’t seek to learn.   Let me be clear, I am not saying that you should know all the math involved with Alexa but I am saying you should understand what the heck is really going on and/or have advocates on your behalf that do.   How do you deal with this?  How do you solve for x?   Invest in training.  Allow for people to admit they don’t know and accept that they don’t know.   Allow for people to address complicated issues and concepts with more than 3 slides.   Allow for people to teach and encourage organizational learning and education.    Have people train each other and upskill.   Invest in current employee cross training.


I Wrote Too Much

If you are here now, statistically speaking you are a rarity.  Why because I wrote too much and I bored the heck out of people by the third sentence.  This is why there is a problem.   If people aren’t fed snippets of information in micro-transactions, they get frustrated and move on.  Unless of course it is caustic or negative or something we should argue about.    If we are going to solve the top challenges for a CIO or other leaders, we really need straight talk on these issues.  If not,  the people that “get it” will “have it” all!








Categories KM

Schrödinger’s Manager

From the desk of Mr. John Benfield


In the early 20th century, physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed a thought experiment involving an unlucky cat in a box, a vial of poison and a device which would watch for a random particle decay. When the decay is detected, the poison is released and the cat dies. Rather than being a simple way to piss off PETA and other cat lovers, it was meant to illustrate what he saw as a logical flaw in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. The particle exists only as a probability, simultaneously in states of “decayed/not decayed” (superposition) until observed. Similarly, the entire contents of the box, the detector, poison vial and cat are tied to that observation and exist in superposition. The cat is simultaneously both dead and alive. As soon as the contents of the box are subject to observation (able to interact with the system outside of the box), the wave function collapses into one of the possible states and animal rights activists are immediately notified.


While the Copenhagen interpretation has been supplanted by newer interpretations, these “cat states” are very real and have been demonstrated at macroscopic levels, though at very small scales and without the assistance of willing or unwilling felines.

However, I believe that I’ve uncovered a practical macroscopic example that’s occurring every day in Corporate America.

Let me provide you with one of many real life dialogs that started me down this path:

SM (Schrödinger’s Manager): “Maybe we should look at moving everything into the cloud”

Me: “We’d love to see that as an option. It would reduce our infrastructure costs and help simplify the environment”

SM: “We’re not moving to the cloud.”

Me: “But you just suggested…”

SM: “We’re not doing that. Why are we talking about this?”

What I would have attributed to simple cognitive dissonance, I’m now starting to see as a brilliant management strategy. Like our Cat-in-the-box, Schrödinger’s Manager exists in a continual state of superposition until observed by someone outside of the system (their boss). This allows them to exist in all possible states and, by extension, keeps all downstream decisions and activities both “aligned”/”not aligned”. Everything contained within the organizational “box” can be temporarily protected from observation and, therefore, from accidental collapse of the wave function into a decision.

When an observer (generally someone above the level of SM) comes along, the interaction causes the collapse of all of the possibilities into a consistent system of aligned or not-aligned decisions and fired, not-fired, punished and not-punished conditions. SM, however, appears to the outside observer to have always been in the state that’s observed when “opening the box”. They’re perceived as brilliantly insightful for having perfectly anticipated the observer.

While this is great for SM, the individuals sharing the box with him are left trying to function within a system of continual uncertainty. While it leaves possibilities open, that also means that both failure and success exist in superposition and there is no outside observation or interaction to help guide behaviors. If anything, feedback is specifically designed to maintain that delicate entanglement and ensure that there are no accidental decisions that will collapse those possibilities.

So how do we mitigate this phenomenon?

It’s really quite simple; Trust.

When an Observer (senior leader) trusts an underling like Schrödinger’s Manager with a decision and implicitly agrees to support those decisions, they shift the role of Observer to that person.

By trusting people “in the box” to make decisions and communicate openly with others outside of the box, the trusted take on the observer role and they become empowered to collapse probabilities into realities.

Trusting people does mean that you have to relinquish some control and power. But a good manager will have prepared their people to handle that responsibility and accountability…. and doesn’t that beat being a dead cat in a box?



No TED Talks @ Work

@Work Entertainment

TED (standing for Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “ideas worth spreading.”

I enjoy TED talks..

I love listening to TED talks.  I enjoy the stories and the style.   I have good recall on many of the talks and in some cases,  it changes my life or perspective.    In most cases these talks are designed to make us think and feel.  People remember the talk because there is emotion wrapped into the story.    This is a far cry from the HR videos designed to deter us from making mistakes in harassment or hostile work environment in the office.

If you don’t know what a TED talk is.. take a look at this

That was a great one..

Not @ Work

A few years ago as part of a change management activity I suggested we do “TED talks” for our employees.   As a result, nothing good happened.  TED talks are written and spoken with passion and purpose.   There is something organic feeling about a TED talk.  It is something that is honest or at least feels honest.  There are plenty of lack luster TED talks out there but there is a style here that is almost like making music or a play.

TED talks

Use Anecdotes: If you can’t connect the anecdote to the current content and it isn’t emotionally connected, it is a waste of effort.

Rotate:  Weaving in entertainment and content and consistently looping it back in. 

Share New Info:  The information has to be new and fresh, even if it is a fresh take on an old thing.  It has to be new!

Have Passion:  HAVE PASSION

The ideas are “ideas worth spreading”  This is the kind of thing that drives a person to share the video or discussion with others.   It becomes personal and it is new even if it is old.

Corporate La La

When watching a TED, there is a good chance that you were introduced to the talk by someone sharing it with you.   A few months ago,  someone shared an Apple video from 1987 that was fascinating to watch today.

This video is TED worthy almost by itself.

The reason is that it is new, compelling and it emotionally touches some part of you.  It came from a source that was not “approved by corporate communications.”

There is a level of authenticity involved, even if you don’t agree with the content.  I believe that the person speaking is authentic.   In a corporate situation,  it is much more complicated.    If you come to listen or watch a TED talk with a closed mind from the beginning, there isn’t anything that can be said to pull you in a different direction because we need proof.  Most TED talks address some kind of research.

If your CEO is talking about how he researched that all figs have wasps in them and so we all need to understand the concept of “mutualism.”     You would potentially walk away scratching your head.   (Yes, figs can have wasps in them.)

These talks have to be authentic and if this is the first time you are ever hearing someone from the C-level come out to speak with you in the TED format, there is a reason or driver for this that is questionable to anyone.   Corporate leaders should speak often to employees but this format is made for a purpose and people will need to believe before they receive information that these are “ideas worth receiving and sharing.”



Testing You ..

Name 3 CEO’s or any C-level people that you believe should do a TED talk or have possibly done TED talks.   Were any of them your CEO or C-level person?   If not,  why?

There are many ways to communicate with employees, start by writing and showing up more.  Become present in the lives of your employees.   TED is for ideas not for companies to build relationships with their employees…  think about it.


Categories KM

Change Leaders |


“Change is easy for those driving it and hard for those being driven by it.” – Anyone but me


Change Leaders …

  • Understand change from strategic and tactical perspectives.
  • Accept short term failures as part of long term success.
  • Communicate through any and every channel.
  • Embed themselves into the fabric of the organization and become an active member of multiple communities.
  • Learn and Share.
  • Know when to stop.
  • Know when to push.
  • Understand the differences between collective intelligence and individual intelligence.

Change leaders can only be successful if the structure and culture of the organization is engaged in a change practice.

Structure being – Functions and organization in management hierarchy and responsibilities.

Culture being-  Interaction between people in peer to peer and/or relationships between manager / leader and staff.   Culture deals with human factors of cognitive, physical and social relations.

Jim says “You have to come to the realization that there are times, we must self-amputate.”    Organizational cuts are painful and sometimes needed but they become important when other options have been exhausted.  – Jim Knight

Change is hard.  

changes went well.jpeg

Change isn’t a program which can be handled by basic high level steps and initiatives. Change is much more fluid and adaptive.  Change leaders have to sense and respond to events constantly adjusting activities and behavior.   That isn’t to say that we don’t make plans.

Imagine for a moment that you are planning a road trip across the country,  you may decide on places to stop for fuel, food and rest.   While you are on the road, that 64 ounce bottle of water really got to you and you may have to alter your plans adjust and pull over for a bio break.   It is the same kind of idea.   Planning and goal setting is important but you have to be flexible.


In consideration of the same road trip,  it is possible that some family members didn’t want to go.   What would you do to help them accept and possibly even enjoy the trip?

Clarity and communication is a basic constant.   Clearly discussing and sharing the mission, vision, scope and objective of change.   Why is change needed?  What are the costs of keeping things the same?


What happens when you refuse to change?  What happens to the company if we refuse to change?

Change leaders work across an organization to connect ideas and people as part of a community.   Change leaders have to constantly change, learn, grow and adapt themselves.


The Real

The average time spent at a job is now 4 years.   Depending on your frame of mind and tolerance for risk,  this could be a good thing.   If we consider the personal benefits in our individual time to competency or time to mastery,  change or shifting roles / job in 3-5 years will increase our overall knowledge, skills and ability.  Staying in a job (may) decrease our ability.   In the chart below, educators are normally on the B curve.


Change Reaction

If you are reading this in Sept 2017,  you will note that Donald Trump is president,  we are on the brink of war with a few radical countries,  “Cash me outside” is a thing that is making millions of dollars by being rude and disrespectful,  massive hurricanes are becoming normal, earthquakes, volcano erupting, and a super planet was prophesized to hit the earth and cause the rapture a few days ago.

Wow..  seriously.. wow..  especially that “Cash me outside” nonsense.

So, the issue is  | change at a higher level whether it be organizational or other becomes personal.   When it impacts “me” is when change is an issue.

People deal with change (generally) in three ways.

1. Victims

  • Perceive themselves as independent of the facts.
  • Feel threatened with hostile situations they can’t handle.
  • Panic and respond with “fight or flight.”
  • Become fatalistic.
  • Oversimplify the world into good or bad, limiting their alternatives.
  • Are never happy and complain about everything.
  • Become pessimistic and cynical about management’s intentions.
  • React by waiting for change to overtake and crush them.

2. Survivors

  • Believe they are at the mercy of circumstances they cannot change.
  • Believe they can survive the change if they simply “hold on” or become competitive with other employees.
  • Convince themselves that “grasping” and “clinging” are necessary for self protection.
  • Respond with anticipation to what is coming and behave accordingly.

3. Navigators

  • Face the pain of change and take a proactive approach.
  • Create a vision of the desired future.
  • Gather pertinent information and assertively pursue the vision.
  • Manage the stress of change well by cultivating a belief in their own ability to deal competently with the situation.
  • Believe in being the cause and influences of events rather than the victim.

Point Being..  change sucks..  changesucks

Going through change and dealing with it or leveraging it may be difficult, there is a good chance things will be better at the end of the change story.   That being said,  I don’t want Niribu to hit the earth right now, that just wouldn’t be cool.

New or Different?

All the cartoons and quotes won’t make any of this better.    It is hard work to go through a change practice and more often change initiatives fail.   The catch is that there really shouldn’t be a change campaign.  Change happens and should be communicated so that individuals have a higher level of awareness.   Companies hire people today on long term contracts.   This means that people for the most part are all contractors.   It is always a temp job.  The catch is how long can we as individuals maintain our relevance.   It is also important for the organization to maintain, grow and raise (organizational intelligence / competency).

It feels like a one way relationship to people because something is “happening to me” but really it is a multi-dimensional relationship.   Something is happening to the company and to all the people in it.  Something is happening to senior leaders.   Something is happening to managers at the mid-level and something is happening to subject matter experts.   The difference is “awareness.”

If I were to add anything to the ADKAR model, it would be “Transparency” because people simply want to be respected and informed.   In general, people just want to understand what the heck is going on and why.   Even if it is bad news, they can be better prepared to help as opposed to being in the dark.



We don’t know..

Change management and knowledge management go hand in hand.    Many companies survive change and many do not.   Even large companies fail to deal with change and wind up dying.   When going through change, everyone has to be open to possibilities and realize that a fixed destination is not a specific target as much as it is a range of possibilities.    Operational awareness, organizational transparency and clear relevant communication are the factors for success.   We can’t know what the end of the story will look like as it has yet to have been written.