Friday, 27 February 2015

10 Tips on How to Co-present a Presentation

This week, I co-presented a webinar with Jocelyn Bérard called Change Agility: Mastering Constant Change

We gave a similar keynote presentation at the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) Conference in November. Although the content was similar, the format was very different. The biggest change was that we couldn't see any of the over 500 participants. 
In many ways, webinars are easier to lead than in-person presentations: you can use your notes, you are sitting down and you don't have to think about your gestures.

There are also some challenges with this format: vocal mistakes are more noticeable, any background noise is a distraction and the only way to convey emotions is through your voice. 

Technical risks are just as big. Fortunately, we had Sarah managing IT and production. She flawlessly managed the communication software, emceeing, polling questions and choreography.

What I loved most was the partnership the three of us shared. Like any productions, it takes a well-coordinated team to make them work well.

Here are some tips on how to partner on a presentation:
  • Write a script―it improves flow and leaves little to chance
  • Listen and be open to your partners' recommendations―it leads to better quality and personal growth
  • Show up well-rehearsed―this is a given for trust-building and ability to perform
  • Arrive very early―remove a risk that would let down your audience and partners
  • Practice as a team―co-presentations are like dances: you must be in step with your partner for them to look good
  • Focus your practice time on transitions―hand-offs have the highest risk of going wrong
  • Know the technology―Sarah was the expert, but she needed to educate us on its fine points for the recording to work well
  • Discuss what could go wrong―contingency plans lead to fast corrections
  • Have an sense of humour―it builds and communicates rapport
  • Eat together―I remember Neil Peart, of the band Rush, talking about the importance of sharing meals with his band mates (Jocelyn shared his lunch with me twice!)
The presentation went well and as planned. We had a great time interacting with participants and ourselves. When we finished our closing comments and the recording ended, my first thought was 'when would we get the opportunity to partner again?' A partnership doesn't get any better than this.


Friday, 20 February 2015

How to Make the Most of Business Travel

My flight from Zurich to Munich was on time, which was a good start to journey home to Toronto. It has been a year since I have traveled outside of North America and a few since I did so almost weekly.

The rituals of business travel came back to me faster than I thought, from packing efficiently to researching local transit and store schedules. I even remembered to take melatonin pills on the overnight flight to regulate my sleep cycle and minimize jet lag. I was back in the business traveler zone.

What I had forgotten were the many benefits of international travel, which help counterbalance the losses of leaving your family. They are often unexpected, exciting and inspiring. Here are the ones that I noticed this week:

  • Experience a new culture -- day-to-day differences in culture are fascinating. I feel like pinching myself every time I am abroad
  • Increase your knowledge -- reading local magazines and newspapers provide glimpses of what is important
  • Broaden your perspectives -- talking with people about their lives expands your frame of reference and makes you more tolerant of different realities
  • See old friends -- this trip I saw great people who I had worked with many years ago The highlight was being invited out to dinner by an old friend and his wife (a new friend)
  • Practice your manners -- a test of character, especially when things go wrong and you don't speak the local language
  • Take time for reflection -- the best time to reflect is when you are in a new environment, without distraction of your regular commitments and schedule 

My second flight of the day, from Munich to Toronto, is also posted as being on time. It looks like I will return home without incident, tired and motivated. I don't want to forget my new experiences so I can make the most of my business travel. 


Friday, 13 February 2015

How to Help Someone Who is Lost

Yesterday, we headed off on a family skiing vacation at Mont Tremblant, 130 kilometres north of Montreal.

The drive went well, especially using GPS. Other than a few twists and turns through Montreal, travel was smooth and on time.

We eagerly watched satellite navigator click down the kilometres to our checkered flag destination marker. "You have arrived at your destination, the route guidance is now finished," it confidently exclaimed. The problem was that we were still on an unlit, two lane highway with only trees on both sides to welcome us.

We kept driving until we reached the Mont Tremblant Village. There were no passersby to ask at 11:00 pm in -25 degrees Celsius weather so we kept going.

After confirming we were lost by driving in all directions, we headed to the only resort we could see. We asked the the person at the front desk if this was where we check in to the place we were staying, he said, "no." We then asked how we could get to where we were going. He gave us a map of the area, drew a line to our destination and then pointed out our mistake, which sounded like the old Bugs Bunny line, "You should have taken a left at Albuquerque." 

We headed off again but realized that where we were to check-in was not where we were staying. We called the registration office and the woman said that our mistake was using GPS: "You shouldn't have used GPS. It doesn't work here." When we mentioned a restaurant that was in sight, she confirmed we were lost. "No, that's not where you should be." 

Our guide directed us to go past the golf course heading toward to mountain. Since it was completely dark and being our first visit to the area, we didn't know where either of them were. It now seems amusing exchanging comments in the care like, "Do you see the mountain...I don't see the mountain...could it be over that a golf course under the snow?" 

The good news is that we were only a minute away. The bad news is that we continued driving in the wrong directions for ten. The only remaining option was to backtrack the way we originally came past the invisible GPS checkered flag point. In minutes, we arrived at our destination an hour after estimated arrival time.

Travel stories are excellent metaphors for working through change. There are clear start and end points, landmarks define the path and usually there are people available to help them to get to where they are going.

Here are some tips to help travelers of any kind:

  • Be clear on where people need to go, including landmarks they will see along the way
  • Tell people multiple times where they are going―repetition and accuracy are connected
  • Check in with people to make sure they are on track
  • Put yourself in their shoes―no one tries to get lost and they can't always see the mountain to show them where they are
  • Inform people that they are not the first to get lost―confidence and success are connected
  • Assure people they will get to where they are going
  • Confirm that people get back on track when they are lost
These may seem like simple tips, but many change initiatives focus on the destination without checking in to make sure people are progressing toward it. The destination becomes the focus over how people are getting there. 

Mont Tremblant is beautiful, especially when you can see it. We have reached the checkered flag and it feels good.


Friday, 6 February 2015

Ten Tips on How to Measure Change Management Success

I have an opportunity to present "How do we Measure Success in Change Management?" to a group of change management consultants, my peers.

Selecting key performance indicators (KPIs) continues to be a hot topic for organizational initiatives, from learning & development to large scale transformations: how do you measure the benefits of this type of investment?

There are many ways to do this incorrectly, such as measuring things that:
  • aren't directly connected to the initiative, e.g. an office relocation measured by website traffic levels;
  • are influenced by multiple factors, e.g. leadership training measured by net profit gains;
  • can't be measured with data, e.g. goodwill;
  • leaders do not care about;
  • no one is responsible for measuring;
  • are not reviewed with leaders after they are measured; or
  • claim to calculate return on investment (ROI) without stating how.
ROI is the Holy Grail of performance measurement because it implies financial significance and accuracy. A good investment is one where the tangible benefits gained are greater than the costs incurred to secure them.

Measuring change in this way is challenging, if not impossible, because the numbers are typically based on subjective estimates. For example, I heard someone proclaim that sales training resulted in 25 percent of his company's annual sales increase. Based on what? Usually these estimates are guesses based on impressions, or wishful thinking, versus facts, which negates the significance and accuracy they are intended to establish.

Here are some suggestions on how to measure change management success:
  • Set expectations that change management (or any organizational initiative) is a contributor to hard results, not the only contributor.
  • Pick a few strong KPIs versus a long list of them―it focuses the evaluation exercise and reduces resource requirements.
  • Focus on the metrics that leaders value―others may help you but they will be viewed by the organization as irrelevant.
  • Gain agreement on what data will be tracked by whom at the beginning of an initiative―the data and the resources to collect it may not exist.
  • Include tracking responsibilities in people's goals―it will increase the likelihood they will be tracked well and people will be rewarded for doing so.
  • Be clear on how long KPIs will be measured―most benefits are realized months or a year past implementation.
  • Gain leaders' commitment to review results for the duration―what gets reviewed by leaders gets measured.
  • Gather anecdotal feedback from people who are working with the changes―verbatim comments help describe benefits and lessons learned.
  • Use tracked results to support business cases for future initiatives―this is often a missed opportunity.
  • Communicate results to the entire business―it increases engagement and invites people to celebrate wins and learn from mistakes.
I am looking forward to discussing the measurement of change management with my peers. It will be difficult to measure how much I will learn, but I know it will be a lot. 


Friday, 30 January 2015

Should you stay connected with everyone you have met?

LinkedIn has a feature that I haven't used, until this week. It is the "See Who You Already Know on LinkedIn" utility that offers to send invites to people whose email addresses are stored in your email account. 

A way to conveniently extend your LinkedIn community to people you know seems like a good idea. Why not send invites to people you have emailed in the past?

On Saturday, I decided to investigate this function. I was curious about how it worked and whether I could filter my email connections for those I wanted to connect with.

I hit "continue" in the pop-up menu and instantly had second thoughts--what about all the people who are copied on business emails? I decided to exit the window, no harm done.

Immediately, I noticed the red email indicator light up on my Blackberry. I looked at my email (a Pavlovian response) and saw two acceptances of my LinkedIn invites. Oh no. I was mortified. 

I had sent LinkedIn invites to everyone who has been copied on an email in my Gmail and Outlook accounts since the beginning of time--presidents of client organizations, professors, dentists, plumbers, you name it.

The acceptances kept coming in. How many invites were sent out, I wondered. How many were ignored? It felt like a popularity contest. 

The more the acceptances arrived, the more relaxed I became about my invitation bonanza. It's only an invitation to connect, I rationalized.

Most people I recognized and was glad that we were now connected. I was surprised that I wasn't already connected with others. Some I wouldn't have sent invites to because either I didn't have relationships with them or the invites might be viewed as requests inspired by personal gain. 

In total, I have received 60 acceptances in 6 days, a 4 percent increase in my total LinkedIn community.

Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? Absolutely. Like change management, my personal goal is to positively influence people to change how they think and act to be more successful. Influencing more people extends my influence, even if it has pushed me out of my comfort zone to achieve it. 

Helping someone decide whether to use a LinkedIn feature may seem like a small thing, but it might be more important to some readers, and that's what makes writing this blog meaningful to me. You never know what influence you can have.

So should you try out this LinkedIn feature? The meaningful connections you gain might be worth it. They were worth it for me.


Friday, 23 January 2015

The Importance of Year-over-year Results

Yesterday, I gave a talk at the HRPA Conference, Canada's largest annual human resources event.

After my session ended, I visited the conference bookstore to sign copies of Change with Confidence. As I was chatting with a bookstore employee, I realized I had done the same thing one year ago almost to the day. 

I am a fan of measuring year-over-year results, both professionally and personally. Finances, running statistics and adherence to guidelines get year end reviews.

What I hadn't reviewed this year was the progress of my book. I reread a blog post I had written after the last conference for clues about what I was measuring. This was little help since my focus was on how I got to the conference in a three-day snow storm in New Jersey.

I do remember that the number of sales was very important to me. As a first time author, it was a tangible measure of acceptance, or the importance of my book. I checked often.

Also important were the number of reviews, interviews and the number of articles I got published. More concrete measures of approval.

As the year progressed my focus changed. The biggest accolade was a reader who emailed me to say how much my book had helped him. "Just what he was looking for," was what he wrote. Also, a few professors had added it to their reading lists and a company believed in it enough to create an online course on the content, which meant a lot to me. 

My focus had changed from acceptance to influence. 

I hadn't realized that my change in focus has affected my promotional efforts. It had become part of my decision making criteria for speaking engagements and the businesses and institutions I approach. 

I feel good about my progress and the types of results I will make this year.


Friday, 16 January 2015

Is photographing ourselves more important than the photo?

I have been spending a lot of time lately digitizing old family photos, slides and 8 mm films. Boxes and boxes of them.

Many images haven't been looked at in decades, which feels like a missed opportunity.

Could it be that the desire to capture these moments is more important than the captured images?

I have come across many series of multiple photographs of the same moment. And this was before the days of no cost smart phone photos. Why spend so much time getting the photograph just right?

I think the process of picture taking signifies that the moment is special and worthy of capturing. Taking multiple photographs of the same scene reinforces the importance of the event. The importance of getting it right is a message in itself--this moment matters.

For many years, I would ask teams working on organizational changes if I could take their picture. I would do so for both project teams and workshop participants. The photo taking process was always a social activity that lightened the mood no matter how immersed in content they were. It was an up beat event.

 For these work teams, the photo shoot implied that they were creating important outcomes that were worthy of being acknowledged. They were building the future.

This acknowledgement also happens in our personal lives. For example, the setting up and taking of a 'selfie' signifies that our image at that moment is important and worthy of being captured. The actual selfie is a byproduct of the event―the  recording is more important (and valuable) than the record.

For the last few years, in workshops, my camera has been focused on capturing flip chart notes versus the teams that created them.

I now realize that I have stopped performing an important function for the team and its productivity. Teams are important and they need to be acknowledged. Their work around change builds the foundation for a better organization. 

Regardless whether anyone looks the picture, the process of taking it represents productivity, progress and promise. People and the good work they do are worth capturing because they matter.


Friday, 9 January 2015

10 Tips on How to Hold a Meeting in a Coffee Place

More and more I work with clients remotely, which is changing how I work. Email, phone, Skype and Google Hangouts are our modes of communication. I only meet my clients in-person when I am leading key meetings or workshops.

Since my face-to-face meetings are at my clients' offices or their chosen off-site locations, I have no need for commercial office space. This expense would only add a commute to my life, reducing the amount of time I could work on my assignments.

I do have a need to meet with other consultants and contacts to work on projects or to network. For these meetings, coffee places are excellent. Chains like Starbucks, Costa and Tim Horton's and independents offer a dynamic space with ample room and refreshments. They are inexpensive too. 

Here are some tips to make the most of your coffee place business meetings:

  • Pick a location that is easily accessible for all parties―commuting time is a cost for everyone
  • Visit the cafe before scheduling a meeting around the time you plan to meet―is there enough seating, is it too noisy, is it conducive to collaboration and conversation?
  • Check for wi-fi access―invariably someone will need to access something on the internet
  • Arrive early so you can find the best spot to sit―this week, I arrived second and five minutes late, which is bad form
  • Pick a spot away from the door―weather and constant traffic can be distractions
  • Offer to buy your meeting attendees coffee―it's good form
  • Tip those who take your order―it's a small recognition for the use of their space
  • Ask if you can check the time―it's difficult to do surreptitiously and I always go overtime if I don't
  • Offer to dispose of everyone's cups, etc.―it's a courtesy
  • Ask others if they liked the cafe as a meeting location―this could become a regular meeting spot or somewhere you won't return to

Coffee places are excellent business meeting spots. This week, I had a meeting in a converted book store that had the old world charm of its 88 year history. It was a perfect backdrop for our conversation.


Friday, 2 January 2015

3 Words to Guide My Actions and Behaviours in 2015

The holidays is a perfect time to plan for the new year. I spent mine thinking of the three words that will guide my actions and behaviours to achieve my goals and live the life I want to lead.

An assessment of my use of last year's words (Purposeful, Groundbreaking and Global) helped make my selection—when I used them well, when I didn't and when I forgot them altogether

This year, I have vowed to use them for all substantial decisions on how I spend my time.

I realize that every decision impacts whether or not I am progressing against my goals. Everything counts. For example, if I agree to do something that is unplanned, the benefit must be greater than doing something else. It's a choice. That's why my first word is 'Choiceful'. It will remind me of the implications of my decisions before I make them.

This year I want to grow by taking on new opportunities and challenges. This will require limiting the amount of activities that are repeats of things I have done in the past. New experiences and challenges are what I am motivated by this year.

My first two words will have limited impact if I don't leave room in my schedule to seize opportunities. Michael Hyatt calls this creating marginThat's why my third word is 'Flexible'. I must keep enough room in my schedule so I can choose take on new experiences.

I felt the pain of zero margin over the past 3 months when I over-extended myself well beyond capacity. My cost was working non-stop, day and night, missing out on other parts of my life. I did it to myself and don't want to do it again.

I am excited about my 3 word selections and how I will use them over the next 12 months. They are posted by my computer so I don't forget them. I also plan to conduct a couple of check-ins over 2015 so I get the best use of them.

So what do you think? If you chose 3 words to help guide you in 2015, what would they be?


Friday, 26 December 2014

Why It's Important to Take Stock of 2014

Media is filled with best and worst lists of 2014—best business books, worst movies, best "best of " lists, etc. Although they are momentarily appealing, they only share one person's subjective view of what good (or bad) looks like for the year. 

What is more valuable is a comparison of results to goals. This is the only meaningful way to measure success and learn from the process.

Measuring your yearly accomplishments allows you to assess whether you achieve your goals. It also allows you to reflect on what what worked and didn't work and which approaches you should start, stop or continue to achieve next year's goals.

I tried a new goal setting approach this year based on a blog post by Chris Brogan written on January 1st. He recommended choosing three words "that sum up what you want to work on changing/improving in the coming year". It's a simple and effective way to prioritize, make decisions and keep track of your progress.

I chose my three words over two weeks. It was important that each one connected to my purpose of helping people and organizations  be more successful by working in new ways. My three words are: purposeful, groundbreaking and global. I used them as guides as I choose how to invest my time.

Here's my assessment of my ability to achieve each one:


I had a purposeful year. The assignments I took on had meaningful goals, both for the organizations and people working on themthere were no 'change for change's sake' initiatives. Also, I took on many speaking engagements that provided immediate, positive approaches for attendees, including people going through a downsizing initiative, managers trying to motivate not-for-profit volunteers and specialists seeking to have a voice during constant change.


This was not a groundbreaking year. I did do a few new things this year including working in new industries and partnering on a keynote presentation with another author. Both broke new ground and were successful, but didn't reach the 'earth shattering' expectations I had set. I have learned that being groundbreaking in itself is not the goal, although things may be groundbreaking to achieve other goals.


I had a global year, both from business and mindset perspectives. Ninety percent of my assignments were with global organizations working on global projects. They all held fascinating challenges (and rewards) of working across multiple geographies and cultures. I have also developed many new international relationships. It's a global world and I feel good about my presence in it this year.

My analysis has taught me a lot about how choosing three words each year can guide my actions and behaviours. Taking stock at the end of the year is informing my next year's word selection too. More on them later.


Friday, 19 December 2014

How to Minimize the "Get it done before the holidays" Syndrome

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I get the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, reflect on the year and plan for the next one. 

That's my plan every December but it never seems to work that way. This is one of the busiest times of the year. Whether it's achieving yearly goals or completing projects before the holiday, schedules are full and people are overloaded.

This year has been no different; projects have been sped up and one was even pressed to start before year's end. Beyond the personal impact of working around the clock, there is a business cost to this rush: people aren't doing their best work. 

Efficiency becomes the goal at the expense of effectiveness. Getting things done is more important than doing things well. The closer you get to the office closing, the more short cuts are taken. At worst, commitments become check box exercises with the intention of reviewing them after the holidays. 

If the pre-holiday season is an environment where people don't do their best work, how do you avoid this "get it done before the holidays syndrome"? Here is a checklist to minimize the effect:

  • Assume that 25 percent of your time in December will be spent on last-minute requests
  • Avoid scheduling important meetings one weeks before the holidays
  • Don't schedule training sessions two weeks before the holidays—attention is low and attendance is a challenge
  • For meetings that you must hold just before the holidays, send action items out within 24 hours along with an invite to review them in early January—people will forget them
  • Ask when people are returning from holiday—it might not be the first day back
  • Be patient with your colleagues and yourself—most are caught up in the holiday rush. 
Following these practices may even give you the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, reflect on the year and plan for the next one. Happy holidays!


Friday, 12 December 2014

10 Questions to Ask When Starting a New Change Project

I just started an exciting change management project. The goal is to enable a global roll-out of a new cross-functional process. 

The 'what' and the 'why' of the project are clear but the 'how' needs to be defined after internal capabilities--resourcing, skills and culture--are assessed and understood.

The 'discovery' phase of this assignment includes interviews with key stakeholders and a deep-dive review of documents. In addition to learning about the business strategy and how it is being delivered, we need to understand how people work together.

Triangulation, the technique of comparing different data sources to distinguish between facts and fiction, is helpful to create an accurate picture of the organization. This is needed before determining how to position the change and develop the best transition process.

Interviewing is the most effective and interesting part of the discovery process. Asking a set of questions to a diverse group of people will give us the puzzle pieces to assemble the organizational picture. Triangulating the answers will help identify the ones that don't fit.

Here are 10 questions that create a good picture of an organization:
  • What does success look like to you about this change?
  • What are people struggling with (pain points) without the change?
  • How will the organization and operators benefit from the change? 
  • What changes were successful in the past? Why?
  • What changes failed in the past? Why?
  • What should I know about your culture? How so?
  • Why might people resist adopting the process?
  • How would you roll-out the change?
  • How would you get people involved in making the change?
  • What last thoughts do you have about making the change?
Questions are powerful tools to gain understanding of how an organization and its people operate. Doing so in a structured way with the right questions will help you help them to change their picture for the better.


Friday, 5 December 2014

When Decision Making is Clear, Change Follows

I have been working with organizations that are changing their operating model. Their new structures, processes and approaches have been designed to make them more focused, faster and efficient.

There are many drivers of this type of change including new mindsets, roles, relationships, skills, behaviours and systems. A focus of change management is to help people understand and commit to new ways of working so they can fulfil their new roles.

The change management plan answers the question, "How will people understand what is changing, why it is good to do so and how will I work differently under the new operation model. Town halls meetings, written and video communication, new team awareness sessions and process and skills training are common activities to achieve this objective.

It became clear this week is that decision making is the most important aspect of the transition that needs to be decided and communicated--who makes them, who is accountable for providing inputs, what process will be followed and how they are communicated. All other aspects of the change are connected to this aspect of organizational governance.

Some organizations have shied away from clarity on decision rights. The momentary harmony of ambiguity is more compelling than executional precision. An initial false sense of alignment is created until opposing positions arise and the organization slows down. Without clear guidance, outcomes are determined as much by personal power than organizational design.

Many organizations are now identifying  the need for clear decision making governance. They are investing time and resources to define and communicate how decisions will be taken on everything from strategic priorities to expense approvals.

For each key process, they define: 

  • What decisions need to be taken?
  • Who owns the decision (who makes the final call)?
  • Who participates in making the decision--who provides input, is consulted and is informed?
  • What forums are they made in?
  • How are the decisions acted upon?
  • How will they be measured?

These details may seem obvious but often they are missed, especially the forums in which decisions are made. When this is unclear, decisions can be made to early, without proper input or participation. 

The most important aspect of new ways of working is decision making. When that is clear, people know how to get things done. When that is clear, the other drivers of change quickly follow.


Friday, 28 November 2014

When People Want the Same Thing, Give it to Them

This week, I interviewed people who will be taking on a newly-created role in the new year. I wanted to get their input on how to design a workshop for them to define their ways of working. 

The questions I asked included:

  • What does this role do and not do?
  • How could they collaborate together? 
  • How could they effectively work with internal partners?
  • What behaviours are most important to succeed in this role?
  • What does "good" look like for the first 90 days?
After a few interviews, I realized everyone was in their late 20's. These 'Millennialswere all intelligent, articulate and digitally social. Their feedback was consistent too: direct, candid and optimistic.

Historians William Strauss and Neil Howe believe that each generation has a common character derived from common traits. My interviews supported this theory. Feedback was consistent across business areas and geographies. Although the phrasing was different, the themes were the same. 

The last question I asked became my test of commonality among the interviewees: "What would make a successful workshop?" Most comments were consistent too:
  • Social connectivity
  • Variety of ways to interact
  • Clarity on expectations and next steps
  • Definition of what "good" looks like
  • Understanding the level of autonomy
  • Support to move the organization forward

My sense is that Millennials take pride in their input and expect it to be used. It's clear what they want. All I need to do is give it to them.


Friday, 21 November 2014

Can you stop the train after it has left the station?

With most change initiatives, there is a desire to quickly get set up and make traction. A new team is formed, a charter is written and a timeline is set.

There is a pervasive feeling that we are behind, though we haven't yet started. Gaining momentum and pooling organizational energy are good things; people notice activity, new news is interesting and new projects can invigorate those involved.

There is a dark side to speedy project beginnings. Often (and more so now than in the past) the desire to show progress is stronger than the desire to set the foundation for success. Evidence of this: plans are created before the change has been fully defined, meetings are scheduled with no agendas,and solutions are declared that are not supported by facts.

Speed becomes the currency of change: process equals motion. The cost of this approach is that it results in delays, rework and additional costs in the future. A quick step forward is followed by two slow steps back.

The biggest risk the mechanisms of speed cause the strategic aspects of the change to be passed over for the warm comfort of project planning. Benefits are not substantiated, measures are not validated and the drivers of change--mindsets, skills, processes, relationships and systems-- are set with little rigour or interrogation. 

If you witness this phenomenon, it might make sense to return the train back to the station to complete the strategic work that was missed. Technically, it is the best solution but practically it isn't feasible. Momentum is a greater force than logic. 

What you can do is slow the train down so that the strategic work gets done in parallel to the planning and execution of set up activities.

You do so by asking questions that expose gap in thinking and areas of risk. Here are some questions that have worked for me:
  • Can you explain the change to me?
  • What must we change in order to realize the benefits? Does everyone agree? How do you know?
  • Have we reviewed our assumptions with leaders?
  • What are our metrics? How will they be measured?
  • Have you considered other options? What were they? What about this one?
  • Have we tested our approach with what worked well (and not so well) during past change projects?
  • What are the risks of moving this quickly? What can we do to minimize them?
  • Are you confident that we have done our due diligence before setting our plans?
Speed is important as long as you know where you are headed and have adequately prepared for the journey. A slower train can lead to a better ride and faster arrival.  


Friday, 14 November 2014

10 Ways You Can Benefit from Speaking at a Conference

This week, Jocelyn Bérard and I presented a keynote address at the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) Conference entitled Future-Proofing Your Organization Through Change Agility.

We knew that a keynote is a different game to leading a workshop. The audience is bigger (700+), people are physically distanced from you, scripting is required for pace and flow and engagement is more difficult (especially at the end of a day at a conference).

Another challenge is that we had never worked together. Learning about our styles and choreographing our movements was a must. It would take continual revision and rigorous practice to get it right.

As with most important events in life, this one flew by. I will always remember exchanging confident nods with Jocelyn as we launched into our presentation. Delivering our work was as exciting as I hoped it would be.

The best part of the day was when people approached us afterwards to say they appreciated what we had to say. What a feeling!

There are so many benefits to speaking at a conference and only a minority of people choose to do so. Here are the ones that have meaning for me:

  • Crystallizes your thoughts on a topic
  • Establishes your reputation as an authority in your field 
  • Builds capability (public speaking, communication, etc.) 
  • Broadens experience base
  • Helps people become better 
  • Meet new people (Jocelyn and I met at a conference)
  • Promotes what you have to offer
  • Scares you and makes you overcome the fear
  • Ups your game
  • Provides a sense of accomplishment

  • All of these benefits have one thing in common: growth. The best part of my CSTD keynote was working with Jocelyn. I learned so much from him and our partnering. We combined our knowledge, experience and styles to create something better than what we could have created on our own.

    Immediately after our session, we shook hands and both said, "Let's do another". That's what most people say after leading their first conference session. You might too.


    Friday, 7 November 2014

    How to Get Change Buy-in with an 80 Percent Solution

    For many years, I believed creating the best plan would lead to successful adoption of change--the better the plan the better the outcomes. 

    What I now know is that the goal isn't to create the best plan; the goal is to create a good plan that people will own and implement. The problem with the 100 percent "perfect plan" is that there is no room for people to contribute. Without providing inputs, people often feel that change is being done to them. This can lead to resistance, or worse, indifference.

    I remember defending one of my perfect plans to the detriment of its execution. Being technically right increased my ownership and decreased it in those who were being tasked with implementation. My inflexibility contributed to lukewarm execution. I had sabotaged the plan without knowing it.

    It is essential that people are given opportunities to provide input into change programs and implementation. People must see their fingerprints on the change before they devote themselves to following it. The 80 percent plan creates room for participation and co-creation, which leads to a pride, confidence, capability and ownership.

    Here are some tips on how to gain buy-in for change through contribution:
    • Refer to your plan as a "draft"
    • Set up a team to review the plan
    • Include a member of each group that is adopting the change
    • Demonstrate you are actively listening to feedback by asking open-ended, clarifying questions
    • Explain why some points of feedback will not improve the plan—don't make a change that will not improve the outcome
    • Acknowledge when an approach is better than yours—it's a win for the person who came up with it
    • Identify contributors by name: "Alka suggested that teams that work together should attend training together."
    • Attribute success to the team—this encourages future contributions and successful changes
    Buy-in and ownership are essential for successful change. Providing room for reflection, creation and contribution build a sense of purpose, commitment and resolve to do things differently. People must want to change themselves.


    Friday, 31 October 2014

    Using 5W Questions to Navigate Any Situation

    Last night, my brother, Steve, and I took my dad to the hospital emergency ward. At 91 years old he had fallen. 

    Our dad seemed okay after the fall although his left eye and the top of his head were red and swollen. Nurses at his seniors' residence were monitoring him throughout the week and noticed his abrasions were getting worse. An appointment with the doctor prompted the precautionary visit to the hospital.

    It took a couple of hours for my dad to be admitted and we spent the next six hours watching as he progressed through a series of tests. 

    The '5W questions'—Who, What, When, Why, Whereare primary tools of journalists, researches and problem solvers. They are the first to be asked and create an overall picture of a topic or situation.

    The 5W's are excellent change management questions too. Each question requires factual answers and cannot be answered with a "yes" or "no". They help to gain perspective, develop hypotheses and support decision making on how to move forward.

    Here are the questions we asked (and ones we wished we had):

    The tests are ongoing, far longer than we thought. More questions are required. This time, I will write them down in advance so there are none in the 'should have asked' column.


    Friday, 24 October 2014

    What triggers your performance mindset?

    Last week, I ran a half marathon. I wasn't in the best shape given I was battling a cold and had missed a couple of training runs. As I approached the starting line, I didn't feel like this was my day to break any records. 

    A fun part of runs is reading the humorous posters that people display along the course. Even the most popular phrases―"Chuck Norris Never Ran a Marathon", "Worst Parade Ever"--continue to inspire smiles. 

    There is one sign that I look out for at every race: "Touch Here for Power". I always take the opportunity to veer off the path to hit the star-burst on the poster to receive my motivational power charge. 

    I used to do it because it was fun. Now I do it because it has become a trigger for my performance mindset. Immediately after I hit the target my mind focuses, I take stalk of my physical condition and what I need to do to maximize my speed. 

    Within seconds I have formed a game plan. I may decide to rehydrate at the next water station, eat a snack, change my stride, run faster or slower. I am confident that I am improving my performance regardless of the action. 

    I also have tricked my mind into believing that I am getting energy from the sign. It gives me a psychological edge when battling pain, exhaustion and ever-depleting resources. Performance is a mental and physical pursuit.

    The same phenomenon holds true in business. Before I give a presentation, I call on my triggers to focus my mind, survey my environment and maximize my performance.

    Here are the triggers I have developed:
    • Introduce myself to everyone in the room―for large groups, meet everyone sitting at the front three tables
    • Angle my body so that it is squarely facing my audience
    • Control my breathing―breathe in, hold my breath and exhale for three seconds 
    • Smile
    • Begin with an open-palmed welcoming gesture
    • Share a story that either relates to the audience or my topic

    Two kilometres before the finish line I saw another "Touch here for power" sign. Again, I veered over and hit the star-burst, triggering my performance mindset. 

    Although my legs were starting to cramp, I sped up at the end to pass a few runners. 

    It felt like a good race but nothing spectacular. When I got home I was surprised to learn that I had achieved a personal best time, 1:13 faster than my fastest half marathon.

    I will continue hitting power signs and activating my business-related triggers. Having a performance mindset helps me to be my best.