Monthly Archives: April 2009

More on Change

 |  Change Management

The dominant topic for our clients in all verticals at the moment is change.  This is the overriding business imperative all are facing: The way we work is changing. How do we lead change rather than react to it?

There are three essential components to leading change successfully.

1.     Create a compelling vision of the future. Where do you want to go? What is the case for going there? How will you measure success along the way and at the end?

2.     Align thought and action. Is there clarity about what will be done to realize the vision, who’s doing what, and by when? Is there a common language and process tool kit for leading change embedded with leaders at every level to ensure consistency in execution?

3.     Grow leaders at every level. Do you have leaders who are agile and adaptable? Are your growing your capacity at every level to sustain high engagement and high performance?

Only you know how prepared you or your organization are to lead change. Too many negative responses to the questions above may be a sign that there are conversations with your key stakeholders to agree the vision, create alignment, and grow your capacity that need to occur.  As many organizations are entering the last quarter of their fiscal year, the time is to ripe to define the future state, analyze the current state, and build a cohesive and comprehensive plan to frame the transition from where you are to where you want to be – in short, to lead change.

Face Change with Poise

 |  Change Management, Leadership

Face Change with Poise
The pace of change continues to accelerate. The world works at a faster and faster speed with each passing day. One thing may be certain as we make our way through this dynamic economic reset, things are never going to go back to the way they were.
We believe that people don’t fear change; they fear loss. In times of dramatic change, people fear they are no longer in control of their situation. They may also fear that they don’t know where things are headed or why things may be happening as they are. Some may feel that they lack the talent to compete and survive in the emerging business environment. Still others may fear that they will lose their connections with their team or organization.
Leading through change requires a different skill set than leading in times of stability. The skills required for leading in a stable environment have more to do with managing a process. We need to be good at analyzing, planning, directing activity, and monitoring situations. Those skills are still important; however we also need to grow a skill set that enables us to lead in a constantly changing environment. These skills have more to do with uncertainty and engaging people to allay fear. In a changing environment we want to be good at providing clarity, experimentation, communication, and developing others.
The goal is an engaged and high performing workforce in a constantly changing business environment. The way to get there is leadership that can remain calm in the face of change and employ a new skill set for change with aplomb. At the heart of this new skill set, will be the leader’s capacity to lead with poise.
In the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary (2005), poise is defined as “a stably balanced state, an easy self-possessed assurance of manner, gracious tact in coping or handling, a particular way of carrying oneself.” Poise is not something the leader does; it is who the leader is. Poise happens from the inside out.
Leaders seeking to lead with poise will want to create the threshold occasion for themselves and their teams, facilitating the ‘ecstasis’ necessary to change and compete in the new world in which we live and do business. Organizations will want leadership at all levels capable of managing complexity: thinking clearly, making smart decisions, motivating themselves and others, and remaining calm in a fast-paced and hectic reality that is the new norm for most of us.
To read more about facing change with poise, download our white paper at

Great vision – Check. Smart strategy – Check. Operational excellence – Oops! Mind the gap!

 |  Change Management

A well-crafted vision and strategy without a game plan and capacity for smart and fast execution are useless. This is the gap that keeps many organizations from realizing their vision. One leader told me, “We’re great at meetings; but nothing gets done.” This is true for lots of companies, especially companies in the midst of change. They spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the strategy and meanwhile, no one is executing to deliver it. Ecstasis Partner Debra Bowles ( is former CEO of Blue Shield Life Insurance, where she oversaw many change management initiatives. She’s our resident change management guru. She says that in times of change and transition the people in our organizations need three things: Empathy from their leaders, Information about what’s going on and why, and Ideas and guidance on what their role is. This last piece comes in the form of a clear and comprehensive execution game plan that lays out what needs to be done to execute the strategy, by when and by whom. The game plan includes detailed actions to address customers, the product/service portfolio, org structure, systems and processes (including communications, working arrangements, etc), and people.
An execution game plan addresses the gap between the desired future state (your vision and strategy) and your current state by laying out the steps through the necessary transition state. It also provides the clarity and alignment that is the foundation for operational excellence. So double check and don’t forget to “mind the gap!”