Thursday, October 18, 2018

Case Study: Writing a Book

This case study applies to writing a book. You can also use this for any large personal project.


I want to share with you a case study on how to use the change planning model and today’s case study really applies to projects that you want to start for yourself. In this particular instance, for me, it’s writing a book, so there’s four passes to this model and what we’re doing is we’re going through all four quadrants and the quadrants are:

– I as in how the change impacts me.

– We how the change impacts how I relate to others.

– It the impact on other people, so putting myself in their shoes

– It’s which is all the materials and systems.

In the center of the model is the change or the activity that I wish to pursue. Write a book. The next thing I do is identify why I’m doing it and this is really important because by having really solid why helps you go through the challenges that invariably occur when you’re doing a big project and it helps you make decisions in terms of which paths to take. In book writing, I’ve learned that there’s essentially three big reasons why people write a book, one is to make money, which is always a nice thing to do, two is to share expertise, and three is as a freemium or just to get it out there and build your list. A lot of people use short books to build a list.

In my case, I’m using this as an expertise sharing exercise. Yes, making money would be great. I hope to, but it’s really more important to me to share my expertise and to do so in a way that’s more organized than 12 years of blog post. The first two passes I’m going to make will be the short term impact and the long-term impact.

When I’m looking at a project, the short term impact is – what changes I need to make immediately to make space to make this happen. Also the short term impact on others. I will pursue at least a high level version of this anytime anything I’m doing is going to impact someone else.

There’s two reasons for that. One is I want to make sure that I accommodate the needs of the people that are important to me in my life because I am going to be asking something of them. The second is because oftentimes when projects and changes get derailed, it’s because of the reactions of others. Surfacing, some of that is a really good idea for risk mitigation.

The second pass that I’m going to make is long-term impact because even with things like books or other projects like building a website, there is an operational component that you’re going to need to consider. How is this going to impact your life? I’ve learned even something that appears to be one and done like, “I’ll just go up and post the website,” often you need to update it.

There is a marketing component for those of us who are entrepreneurs or solopreneurs. Considering what the long-term impact of what you’re doing is going to be really important.

First two passes, um, and I would have done something really fancy with moving stuff in (with the PowerPoint). This section took me about five minutes. When I look at the impact on myself, short term, I just need to sit down and create the project plan to write the thing. It’s essentially setting aside time to do the work.

There is a mindset, a couple mindset and belief shifts that need to occur to. One, for me, is the belief that “I am an author” and I see that as being different than “I am a writer” of because “I’m a writer” is the act of writing.

I’ve been blogging for 12 years. I’m a blogger, but “I am an author” tells me in the back of my head that I am writing a book. And so reminding myself that I am capable of doing that is going to be really important.

A mindset shift I need to make is, “I have valuable information.” This is going to be really important because I don’t know about your demons, but my demons tend to be pretty loud and often remind me that “Why am I doing this? Because no one wants to listen to you, Yada, Yada, Yada.” It’s really important to me to … not necessarily quiet that voice, it’s always going to be there … but befriend it and do the things that you’re supposed to do as a healthy person to get stuff done. Because if I listened to that voice all the time, I’d never get anything done.

Another mindset shift that I need to make is reminding myself that completing the deliverable is not the end of the project. One of the things that I found as I transitioned from employee to entrepreneur is a lot of my career was spent finishing a project for a client, throwing it over the wall to the client, and hoping I never heard from them again. The client or the customer was the person who was responsible for getting it out there.

One of the big things that I’ve learned over the past couple of years as an entrepreneur is that – no, the work doesn’t end when I finish this thing. There’s a whole ‘nother phase of work that needs to occur in terms of marketing and sales. Another shift that I need to make is reminding myself that “No, this is the first phase.” Finishing the book is the first phase. There’s still a whole ‘nother phase of things to do for the book to be successful. That’s the I component.

The next place I went to when I wrote this was the We component. This is where I look at my relationships with others, what I’m asking from others, or what I need to model for others. In this case, I’m really doing more of an ask. Whenever you see Ryan (in this demo), he’s my partner. He’s the one most impacted by the stuff that I do. One of the things that I needed to negotiate with him was time and space for doing deep work; as in, time and space where he’s not going to interrupt me. Not because he intends to sabotage me or anything, but just for basic day-to-day stuff like, “Hey babe, are you ready for lunch?” He’s also working from home a lot more frequently. We actually have to work together to find space so I can get work done and so he can get work done. Making sure that we have that conversation and have it regularly and that I’ve maintained really solid boundaries and make very clear in regards to what I’m going to do and expectations for each other is going to be incredibly important.

The other thing that I need to do is to, and okay, I’m going to be the first to admit I’m really lousy at this and any of my friends who were watching this will know this, is to share what I’m doing and why. And also ask for their support help and feedback. This is a change that I need to make because I’m really lousy at asking for help and support, so it will be a good practice for me.

I’m going to go up to the upper right hand quadrant (It). This is the It. If the We is how I’m relating to others and any support or boundaries or expectations that we need to set with each other; then It is how my actions will impact others or how I feel they might react or how I would like them to react to what I’m doing. In a business sense, this really speaks a little bit to one of those stakeholder management grids. Knowing who’s going to be the people who are going against you, who’s going to be your supporters, who do you need to support you that may not be fully bought in yet.

I kinda think of this area as, are there other roles I need from others? Are there skills I need from others? What sort of support do I need from others? In the It section – I need an accountability partner and know this is something, thankfully that I actually have. A bunch of accountability partners. This is going to help me get this thing done. I am going to work with Ryan to identify what support I need from him. Thankfully he’s very encouraging so it’s probably going to be a five-second conversation. We’ve already had it, but it’s good to know during this process to reiterate. Also (for me to) get clear on how this book is going to help other people because part of the stakeholders is the audience for the book. Making sure I’m clear on what their needs are, how it’s going to help them, and making the appropriate adjustments is going to be key.

The It’s. This is the resources, materials and systems. One of the things I’ve done is that I’ve blocked regular time for writing and content creation. This tends to be early morning. I (also) need to check the effectiveness of my organization. Content management. I tend to write in small chunks, especially because the type of writing I do is nonfiction. It often has a lot of research. Also, when you’re doing large books, it helps to know where your chapters are and know where your outline is. And any material supporting materials like if I’m making charts or pictures. Making sure I know where my knowledge is (and making sure that my knowledge management is) on point.

I’ve done the project management (for this project). Again, this is something where it took me a lot longer to explain this than it took me to actually write this stuff down in the section. I did it in a couple minutes. I have slept on it, done a second pass and I may do a third pass when we’re on this today. It’s good to do it once, sleep on it, and take a look again.

The next pass, now that I’ve done the short-term is long-term. Here I’m really thinking about operations and what this looks like in the long-term. For this particular change, I’ve personally defined long-term as once I’ve gotten the book written. Again, part of this is reminding myself that, “Yes, there’s a whole ‘nother phase after I finished a thing. I’ve got to get out there and market. ”

I need to decide the marketing strategy. I need to decide sales strategy and actually execute it. Sales is not an area I’m terribly comfortable in. It’s a definitely growing edge for me. Making sure I execute on that is going to be key. I also need to determine a process for any needed updates. I know my thinking has evolved on the topic for my book over the past 12 years. There’s a lot more people out there now sharing their expertise on change and change management and how change works. There’s some great neuroscience out there as well. It’s really started surfacing in the past 10 years. I want to make sure that I’ve planned for updates.

One of the things I did, and I did this in italics, is I need to determine the long-term impact on me. I’ve got it in italics because I don’t know what that looks like yet and I’m not sure that’s an area I particularly want to plan or control. I probably need to do some deeper thinking on it. I’ve never been here before. I’ve never written a book before. I’ve never marketed a book before. I know I’m looking to build expertise; share my expertise. I don’t know what this looks like in practice. The mindset I still need to maintain long-term is “I have valuable information to share” and a belief that I need to maintain long-term is “People like my work and want to get to know me better.” This is really important for me because (again, my friends will know this) if I am left to my own devices, I’m a hermit and deep introvert. I think this is going to be very important – just remembering that the vast majority of people have good intentions. I know this from experience and I forget this pretty frequently. I let the Gremlins in my head tell me that people are terrible. (Assuming good intentions) is a belief that’s going to be very important for me to keep.

In the We section long-term, one of the things that Ryan and I need to negotiate, particularly as I share my expertise in various ways as a result of the book, is to negotiate boundaries around travel. How long I’m away from home. Things that will and won’t work for him in regards to that. What he needs from me. What I need from him. Again, this is in italics because I don’t know what the long-term impact is going to be. I do know that there is going to be travel and some demands on my time that haven’t been there for the past couple of years.

Then We, in terms of interacting with others, and this is everybody outside of my relationship with Ryan, family, friends, professional colleagues, people I meet. What’s really important is to maintain humility. I’ve learned an awful lot from an awful lot of people and had an awful lot of help. I think this is all really important. Just practicing gratitude just because I’ve been so fortunate to have people helping me on this path, particularly over the past couple of years.

If I’m able to maintain that mindset and really model, I think this is gonna be really helpful. Long-term, I’ve got two things that I need to keep an eye on. One is long-term impact on Ryan. I don’t know what that looks like. And long-term impact on the rest of my family. My family is pretty important to me and I want to make sure that I’m there for them. Again, those are unknowns. It may wind up having me pull the plug if it looks like the long-term impacts are going to be negative. Not necessarily in writing the book and sharing my expertise, but maybe some of the more travel and energy-intensive parts of expertise sharing.

Then some long-term systems that I need to take a look at: my marketing architecture, I have one, it’s going to need to be maintained; sales operations metrics, again, long-term, needs to be maintained in my update process.

At this point with the short-term and the long-term, I have a decision to make as I look at the potential, short-term and long-term impacts. Do I still want to do this thing? I know it’s going to be time consuming. I know that there’s potentially an impact on my family. This is where I also look at the short-term and long-term and think in terms of values. How is this going to impact how I want to show up in the world and the values that I possess? I think with boundaries I’ll be okay. If it looks like I cannot be successful and still maintain positive relationships with my family and with Ryan, I’ll have to ratchet this back.

This is a yes and I have already started writing this, obviously. We’re going to see what happens. It’s going to be an adventure. With that decision, I’ve made the yes decision and I know where my risks are and I’m shaping some boundaries around where my outs are. This is really good output for that phase because once I had surfaced any risks or any unknowns, I can go find the information. I can mitigate those risks. I can also come up with contingency plans. I know this sounds really complicated, but it is really useful because things happen in life and knowing what’s really important is going to be incredibly helpful during the journey.

This next phase is the resources that I have. I think it’s really important to do an inventory of what you’ve already got to work with, especially because for many of you, you’ve been in the field a long time, you’ve lived quite a bit of life. You’ve probably done similar things before. I think it’s useful to just reflect back and go, “Okay, what’s a similar that I’ve done?” It might be nothing, but there’s always something you can pull off (your prior experience) because most of us have written status reports. Most of us have done big projects just for ourselves or for other people. Then you can leverage that experience.

You can also think about who your friends are and who your supporters are. Those are the first people that will really help you. That you can lean on. Many of them have expertise possibly in the area in what you’re doing for your project. Also with things in terms of knowing what other material stuff you may have lying around. In this section, in terms of resources: I am writing in an area, I’ve got quite a bit of experience in, I’ve been implementing change for most of my career, and I’ve been implementing involuntary change most of my career. Being able to help people implement change they want to make is really exciting to me and kind of different. The other thing that I’m looking at is – I did write a master’s thesis about 24 years ago. The process is pretty similar. I’ve been using my experience doing that for this particular personal project.

The mindset that I’ve got, which has been incredibly helpful, is, “This is a learning experience.” This is a mindset I already possessed. I’ve possessed it for years, which is awesome. Occasionally I forget that mindset, but it’s pretty easy for me to get back to this at this point. Sometimes after a little bit of thrashing.

The We section. Thankfully I’ve got a partner who’s already very supportive. I just continue talking to him and I’m confirming that everything’s okay. Making sure those lines of communication are open. I’m also very fortunate to have some communities of practice that I’ve been involved in. Some of them for, more than five years. Some of them closer to 10. And some of them for my entire career. They’re really good with providing feedback. They have offered to help. Again, my task is to stay open to their feedback.

I do have resources so people with skills that I can reach out to. I’ve got peers that have written books before. They’ve been really gracious in helping me in terms of the process and things I need to consider. My dad. Fantastic feedback giver, particularly in the area of business. Ryan of course is a pretty good resource just in terms of day to day support for the process.

Then some of the resources I have available to me, and this is the materials and systems. I do have 12 years of blog posts. Many of them are on change. You won’t be seeing the blog posts in the book straight from the blog post. I am doing quite a bit of rewriting. I do have money which is enough to, I mean I’m not wealthy by any stretch, but I do have enough money in the kitty to cover the costs of this effort, which I am amazingly grateful for. Things that I need to succeed. What’s nice about this is if this provides me an inventory.

What are the things I need to go out and get for myself? I need to remind myself. “Beginner’s mind.” I am new at the whole book writing process. Even though I’ve written a Master’s thesis before, I am new at the marketing and sales process. I need to be okay with making mistakes. This is something that, early on, is a good thing for me to practice. I know that this is a practice that, now that this has surfaced, I know I need to be more mindful of. The discipline to follow through on the marketing and sales. Again, introvert. New at marketing, new at sales, hasn’t been my wheelhouse. An area of fear for me. I know to reach out for help with that. Then just belief in myself.

One of my beliefs that I need to make sure that I remind myself of is that I am capable of being a great writer who provides value through my work. This speaks to growth mindset. I may not be a great author or great writer yet, but the key word there is “yet.”

Then (making sure I am) providing value and making sure I’m reaching out and getting feedback. Does this provide value? I think the market will tell me. Then maintaining the mindset, “I’m open to feedback” and reminding myself that people tend to interact with best intentions. Focusing on the people who are interacting with best intentions because I do know that that’s not the entire world.

In terms of the We, I just need Ryan’s continued encouragement. I may need to seek out other communities as well. Asking for feedback and being open to the response. This is going to be a regular practice. I need accountability partners. I think I have some, but it’s always good to have many accountability partners.

Friends and family – what I need from them is understanding around my lack of availability and their encouragement even if they don’t quite understand what I’m doing. I know for me when I say “lack of availability,” I find that when I’m in these really deep mental processes, I sometimes am not nearly as present even if I’m in a room full of people. I’m working on that. I know that for me presence is a terribly imperfect practice right now. If they have understanding around that, and also if they occasionally, “Hey Wendy, are you there?” I think that’ll be a good thing. That will be a very helpful thing for them to give me. I need to have that conversation with people.

Then the It’s. What materials do I need. Thankfully, I have a marketing architecture so I don’t need that. I just need to make sure I keep my schedule blocked and I need more knowledge around and experience around marketing a book and selling a book. That’s pretty much the process.

From talking through this with you, you see some of the outputs that I’m able to use for the project plan and as I go through the project. I don’t have to be nearly as detailed in this project plan. I’m a project manager. That’s how I roll. I do know that I have some conversations I still need to have with people I’m asking for help. I do know that I need to continually make sure that I keep beginner’s mind, stay open to feedback and just remind myself that I am capable of doing this and that I am able to provide value. I’m maintaining boundaries. I do know that that’s something that I’m going to have to be very clear on with the people around me and asking for help if I need it. There’s some really good outputs.

The other thing, too, is this reminds me that I am doing this for expertise sharing. Expertise sharing really has a couple of things. One is, here’s the stuff I know, but also it’s (how do I put this) building that kind of expertise in terms of making myself known as someone who can actually help in this area. That really is secondary to, “Hey, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I hope you find this of value,” and putting this together in a way that people do find value out of it.

That is the book writing. That’s the pass of the Personal Change Planning model in the context of a project. In this case, writing a book. I hope you found this of value Please comment if you have any questions or have anything else that you, that you see or any comments. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you so much.

Change for All Quadrants: Personal Change Planning – is now available for pre-order on Publishizer.
Campaign runs October 1-30, 2018.

Order Now

Thank you so much for your support.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Why Change Fails


I wanted to talk today about change failure and, as you know, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on change and change failure – mostly to confirm or get a feel for how accurate I am when it comes to what I’ve been seeing over the 15-some-odd years of doing change work and the statistics are pretty scary. Current statistics on organizational change success – 70 percent or more of change initiatives fail and those numbers are apparently increasing. And yet, there’s a greater demand for change and needing to be agile in the face of a very uncertain environment and we’re becoming worse at it. And, I suspect, that your experience in that space is very similar to mine where there’s all these change initiatives and there might be a little bit of focus and then as soon as we’ve done the ceremony, had the training, turned it on, let’s do the next change.

And so people wind up being really tired, which is a common reaction to change initiatives. Particularly, I noticed that in the last five years working in organizations where it’s one thing after another, after another and people are just tired. The second thing is that even when you’re looking at personal change or habit change, the failure rate is 80 to 90 percent. And when I see the research on that, a lot of it is focused on, well maybe you didn’t chunk it small enough, you didn’t do anything with your environment … throw away the cookies. But I think there’s something that has been missed in some of this conversation. The reason that I’ve seen that change fails both in organizations and in just the personal changes we’re trying to make. We have not considered the impact on other people and we have not considered how we need to interact with other people to make that change successful.

So here’s what I mean when I talk about how we haven’t considered the impact on other people. In an organizational sense, I’ve often seen it as, “Okay, well we’re going to do the stakeholder matrix and we’re going to know them as a trainer.” You’re looking at it in terms of: “Who are my audiences? What’s the change that can happen now?” It’s very surface level, but we really haven’t considered both the short term impact because any change is going to slow people down as they learn new processes. They learn new tools and they have to integrate and learn how their interactions with others change. That’s a layer that we don’t normally get into when it comes to organizational change Then on the personal level, when many of us approach change for ourselves, like the new year’s resolution, we’re thinking about the behaviors and the changes we need to make personally without considering how this impacts others.

For instance, I actually had this conversation with my better half last night. I’m thinking about changing up some of the things that we eat. We’ve gotten a little sloppy with our diet and, thing is, if I was going the way I typically go and we have typically gone into things, it’s like, “Okay, well… I’m just going to change my diet and start eating vegetables and all that.” There’s a possibility that, that could get derailed pretty quickly because maybe on a day I want a salad, he wants pizza. I like pizza. How easy is it going to be for him to derail me from the salad to go eat pizza?

The changes that we make for ourselves tend to have a greater impact on others. It’s the same thing when you’re looking at even family and friends or people outside. Again, I’m going to use food as an example. There’s a social component around food and going into food situations where, “No, I can’t eat this, I can’t eat this, I can eat this.”

It’s good to set boundaries, but it does have a social impact. That’s something that often we don’t consider. I know for myself, if, whenever I’ve made changes and those changes happen to stick, part of it is me. I’m healthy. Part of it is me, but some of it is also how I’m interacting with the people in my environment now. Like a lot of humans, I want to belong.

I’m doing it more to make myself a little healthier. I don’t have medical issues, I’m not trying to lose a ton of weight. And I’m fortunate enough to not have food addictions, or that sort of thing. It is still worth considering how your personal changes are going to impact others.

The other thing that often gets lost, and I’m thinking part of it is because it’s really uncomfortable, is how we interact with people needs to change oftentimes with change. I’m going to go again to organizational…the personal on an organizational level. What tends to happen, or at least what I’ve seen in my career, is change comes down from on high and is inflicted on others, especially these process changes. But the people who are leading that change are treating it as “It’s a change you need to make. I don’t really need to do anything.” They may not mean to send that message, but that’s often the message they send – like, “I’m separate and apart from this change. Even though you have to make the change, it doesn’t apply to me.”

There’s modeling that needs to be considered. There’s How does this change what I’m rewarding? How does this change how I interact with people? Do I need to treat people differently?

A really big example of this is that shift to Agile requires an awful lot of changes in relationships between people. And I think that that’s one of the things that gets lost and that’s one of the reasons why a number of Agile implementations go sideways. And then on a personal level, again, there’s interaction changes. I’m not only modeling, “Hey, I’m really trying to do what I say I’m going to do,” but also setting boundaries, setting and maintaining boundaries. I’m asking for help – which is difficult for a lot of us.

I know I am super guilty of this and I am working on this constantly. Asking for help is really, really hard. If you’re not someone who has typically asked for help, that’s a major change in the way you interact with people. That’s one of the reasons why I’m writing the personal change planning book. I think that one of the ways we can really help our cause and make new habits stick is to deeply consider the impact on others and how we need to change how we interact with others. So I hope that helps. The link to the preorder for the personal change planning book I’m working on is below. Please comment or send any feedback or questions on this video or on the blog post.

Change for All Quadrants: Personal Change Planning – is now available for pre-order on Publishizer.
Campaign runs October 1-30, 2018.

Order Now


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Case Study: Personal Education


In this case study for the personal change planning model, I wanted to provide a case study for decision around whether or not to join a particular club or any other time-consuming activity. I would also think of this case study in terms of pursue a certification or pursue a new educational opportunity, one that is going to take some time.

What we’re going do is we’re going to do this using all four quadrants The quadrants are defined as – I, or the impact on myself – It, or the impact on someone else. I think that’s really important when we’re looking at personal change. We – any changes that I need to make in terms of how I interact with another person or other people. It’s – which are the systems and resources that might be impacted or that I might need for the change.

When we do this, we’re looking at two passes. First, to help us with our decision making. One is the short term impact across all four quadrants, which are shown here. The second is the longer term impact across all four quadrants. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. Then, once we decide, yes/no – this is worth pursuing, then we’ll take a look at what we have already available to us, which I think is the step that we often forget when we’re initiating a project or initiating change and what we need.

What I’m showing here is the decision that I made a couple of months ago over whether or not to join Toastmasters. Now, for those who aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, they’re an organization that’s been around for a really long time and they started as a group that helped each other become better public speakers; particularly in the format of giving toasts.

An old tradition is a best man, stands up at a wedding and gives a toast to the bride and groom. It was about perfecting that over the years. Particularly, in the last year, they’ve expanded their mission to become not just an opportunity to practice public speaking, get the support to overcome fears of public speaking, and get better at public speaking. They’re also doing a lot more around leadership and leadership skills and coaching skills and feedback skills. That’s what attracted me. When I approached, I already knew a little bit of about what the organization was. I also had an advantage in that my dad was a member of Toastmasters growing up, so I had a passing familiarity with the group.

The center of the model is the choice that we’re making and this is a yes/no choice. In a later example. I’ll go over choosing between options. The choice is do I join Toastmasters? Yes/No. The second part of the center is the why. Getting very clear on my primary reason for joining it. In this case, my why is to get better at public speaking, particularly extemporaneous public speaking. Now I’ve been in front of the classroom and doing online webinars for 20 plus years. I’ve never taken a public speaking class and I know even watching some of my recorded videos that I’ve developed some really annoying verbal ticks that I’m not real happy with. So it was important to me to go back and really work on my public speaking, particularly the extemporaneous public speaking.

That’s the primary reason. Now there are secondary why to this: networking. I am a solopreneur, so networking is always important. Finding community – that is important, but that is secondary to public speaking. Being very clear as to why I’m doing this will help me decide as opportunities present themselves what is most important and whether to say yes or no to it. Having that why there is going to remain very critical.

I’m going to turn on my laser pointer here. The first pass I take is the short term and really these first two passes only took five minutes each. Then what I do is I sleep on it and then I go back to it. So the first question I ask is what’s the short term impact on me and others and my systems and how I relate to people if I do this?

In the I quadrant, a short term impact is one – attending meetings. Going into new groups is always a little scary. The second thing that’s really important in this instance is to make sure I contribute to each one. Any of these is a give and take, I want to establish solid relationships right off the bat with a new group of people. The second one (actually the third) is they have something called Pathways – that’s the learning tracks within the organization. They did a really nice job (on these learning tracks), that’s one of the things that attracted me to this group. One of the things with the pathway that I need to make sure of is that I’m only doing one at a time and one project at a time. So … not getting too far ahead of myself, which is really, really easy to do.

Excuse me, for the dog. The second thing (fourth thing?) is belief. Going into it with a belief that I am interested – which is infinitely more important than the second part of this – and interesting. Mostly what I’ve found is that what I’m interested in others, I become more interesting. The one thing I don’t want to fall into is the, “Hi, I’m grilling you with questions because I’m too nervous to have an actual conversation with you.” That’s something that I’m working on. Maintaining that belief is really important. Then mindset. It’s really important with this change – actually with any change, but with this change in particular – to remind myself that just because I’m not the most inspirational speaker now I can become one with healthy practice and support. The whole idea behind Toastmasters is being able to support each other as we become inspirational speakers and not necessarily inspirational speakers as in, you know, “I’m going to stand up here and pretend to be Tony Robbins.” That’s not what I mean. Inspirational more in terms of I’ve inspired someone else to improve themselves. I think that’s the best way I can explain that. Those are the short term impacts. There needs to be a change in belief in myself and a change in mindset. Also just remembering not to get ahead of myself.

The change of the impact on others. Keeping in mind the impact on my household. My household consists of myself and Ryan who’s my life partner. Any decision or choice or change that I make that has me leaving the house or needing to make time for things, I need to make sure he’s accommodated. I’m very, very fortunate in that I’ve got an incredibly supportive partner, but on my side I need to make sure that everything’s copacetic. Ideally before I just do stuff. That’s just a value I have. That’s the type of relationship I have. It’s not even a permission thing. It’s more of a respectful, “This is what I’m up to, this is what I’m doing, this is where I’m going. You don’t have any plans for me, do you?” It’s a respectful thing like that.

The change in the impact on the We, which is how I relate to him, is just making sure I’m negotiating time for those meetings. I needed to have it up here because the impact on him is that he’s gonna have to cook for himself Monday night. Other impacts include getting to know the individuals in the community I don’t know. That’s kind of the short term impact. I don’t know what further impact this is going to have yet. I’ll talk about that on the next slide. In terms of we with friends and family, one of the things that has a short term impact is just sharing what I’m doing. Everybody’s really supportive. No one’s said “How dare you go out and learn more about public speaking.” This is not a terribly controversial activity.

Short term, this is a bunch of new people to me. I don’t know them very well. I didn’t go in there knowing anybody. What is important is that I show up, present and interested and polite. Trying to be my best self in each of those interactions. Demonstrating respect. I think that’s incredibly important with anybody, not just people we don’t know very well.

I think it’s almost more important that we demonstrate that respect with our closest friends and family. Then being open to feedback. One of the things with Toastmasters that can be a little challenging is that it really is about feedback and that I’m learning. A lot of people, I’ve noticed, find sometimes that feedback is really painful. Part of the lesson is figuring out how to give feedback and how to receive feedback and how to discern, productive feedback. I know the group that I’m with works very hard to make sure that the feedback they provide is productive and is in the right spirit. I know they want you to improve as much as you want them to improve.

In the Its area, short term, blocking time for the meetings and also commuting to the meetings and finding parking for the meetings. I live right outside of Washington DC. It’s not just the amount of time it takes to get from here to there, it’s also finding parking and it’s also the unpredictability of traffic, so I have to schedule that.

There are also projects. I have to block time for the speech writing and the projects, not just for the meetings. I did my icebreaker (first speech) a few weeks ago. It took me (I was super nervous so I took longer than it probably needed to) but that one took me about eight hours to decide what I was going to talk about and structure the speech, run it against the evaluation criteria, restructure the speech, decide to do another speech, repeat process. I don’t quite anticipate the other speeches to take nearly that long, but I do think eight hours is about the right amount of time. Especially since I seem to like tossing stuff and starting over again. I’ll get over that.

One of the short term things I need to do is figure out what the expectations are from the club, and also national. Each of the clubs have a national component. I also need to learn more about the Pathways process. They just changed their tracks. So it’s a learning experience for everybody. That that’s the important part. That’s the short term impact

The long-term impact. When we go into new activities I found oftentimes that we look at the short term, but we don’t necessarily look at how this is going to impact us long-term or operationally. This is true both for personal change and also for projects and organizational change. In long-term, too, I also think in terms of exit strategy as well as knowing when to call it quits.

I think that’s a good thing to ask about in these long-term quadrants. In the I quadrant, the impact on me, I will have to make a decision. This talks to my exit strategy as to whether or not I continue that commitment past my dues – so the end of 2018. That will give me four months to see how things go.I also need to make a decision in regards to what level of participation in volunteering I’m going to provide to the group. It’s good to make that decision early versus being asked, saying yes, and then realizing you have no time for any of the other stuff that you’re trying to do or you’re tired or I start neglecting my family. Being really mindful and remembering what I’m trying to get out of it.

I think making those decisions early now – you can always change them – but having an idea of why you’re making those decisions and what you’re trying to get out of the experience and what you want the experience to be like as you go through the process. I think is really important. That’s the I quadrant.

Now I’ve got these italics because I really don’t know. I need to see what the long-term impact is on my partner. I also need to see what the impact is on club members. Part of the evaluation is – is the giving and receiving even? Am I getting what I need out of the experience? Am I reciprocating what they’re providing? So far it’s been an even exchange, but that’s something that I need to keep an eye on. I also need to ask club members as well as I start developing relationships long-term. For Ryan, it’s really maintaining the boundaries and communication around the activities.

I should add this here – having him encourage me to get out of the house. It’s a little too easy, especially when I start hitting evening, for me to go, “Oh yeah, well I’ll skip it.” That’s way too easy. Ineed to ask him to continue to encourage me. “Hey, don’t you need to be somewhere Monday night?” That’s good for me. That’s an external accountability too.

Then with the club members, my goal is really to develop positive and mutually fulfilling relationships. They seem like a really nice group of people.

Then, in terms of systems, I do have to understand that there is a minimum operational commitment of time. I know at minimum I’m looking at two hours every two weeks and then for the Pathways or the work that I’m doing with the club. It’s to learn this public speaking. I’m estimating right now about eight hours per project. This is something I’m going to keep an eye on.

And then there are minimum costs that will come out operationally. There is annual dues. I’m involved with a community dinner club and one of the ways that they’re able to maintain that room in this restaurant is that they encourage us to get dinner. I need to make sure I budget for dinner every two weeks.

I’ve done my short term and I’ve done my long term and even though it took me longer to explain, the process took about five minutes. Typically I’ll sleep on it, and then go back to it and then I decide, yes/no, do I want to do the thing? This is a yes/no decision. In this case, the answer was obviously yes. Onto the next round.

Once I have determined that it’s a yes, the next thing that I need to do is think about what I have, what resources I have to work with already, and then what I need to do and what I need.

Again, these resources are in all four quadrants and I’m going to start in the I quadrant again. This really talks to internal resourcing and me and my mindset. The big thing that is really good in terms of what I’ve already got is that I’m not going in there petrified of public speaking, which is good. I have had stage fright and it’s not a lot of fun. The one thing that is really important is that I do not get complacent. One of the reasons why I’m in there is to improve my public speaking, going in there going, “Oh yeah, I’ve done this for 20 years.”That’s not gonna help. I really need to maintain beginner’s mind.

Another thing that does help me is – if you’ve ever read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, one of them is fundamentally I do what I say what I’m going to do. I’m true to my word. If I tell them that I’m going to serve as grammarian, which is one of the roles that they have in the meeting, then I can trust because I’ve done this for a long time as a practice that I’ve got a 95 percent chance that I’m going to do what I say what I’m going to do, irregardless, unless I’m really sick and contagious or dying. We can argue about how healthy that is. It’s been a mindset that has really helped me over the years more than it hurt me.

In terms of resources I have from others, people with the roles and skills that can help support me, I have a supportive partner who does encourage me to get out more, which I am eternally grateful for. And my dad was actually a former Toastmasters member. When I was a kid he participated for a few years, so he has a little bit of subject matter expertise. Also, he’s been the one who tells me I mumble too much – usually at the dinner table. He’s a really good person to get feedback from.

Then in terms of We – the resources I have. Ryan,again. I just need to make sure that we maintain our lines of communication. And, thankfully, I’ve been involved in some really fantastic online communities and professional communities and some of the speeches that I’m planning to give as part of my toastmasters projects are very much centered around the professional work I’ve been doing over the years. They’re able to provide feedback on content and have offered to. I do intend on taking advantage of their offer because even though these are Toastmasters projects, I think they’re important and I’d like to be able to provide value to them by being as accurate as I can be.

And then in terms of resources, I’ve got so much material for speeches. I am incredibly fortunate that I’ve spent 20 some odd years doing stuff and so I’ve got a pretty good library of topics. I do have video, I’ve been doing online video for a long time. I’ve been doing my speeches as dress rehearsals by filming them first, much like this. I’ve got all the materials for that. Actually that reminds me – part of what I need to ask is whether or not they’re cool with me filming my next speech.

Money. Thankfully I also have enough money to cover costs right now. I do need to keep an eye on this. I do have a community toastmasters group nearby. I have noticed that a lot of the groups in this area tend to be affiliated with organizations. I don’t know what it’s like nationally right now. The fact that there is a community group nearby where their meeting is pretty easily accessible to me, particularly since I’d have to drive around during rush hour around here, is really awesome.

Finally I’m looking at things I need to be successful. In this case with Toastmasters, I need to really maintain beginner’s mind. I’m going to get in big trouble if I don’t maintain a level of humility about this. I need to improve my public speaking. I need to improve my extemporaneous speaking. I can learn a lot from others who have been practicing and have been actively working on their public speaking. Yes, I’ve done this for a long time, but I also can get better. And I can do so by maintaining beginner’s mind, that’ll do me a world of good.

There’s a belief I need to maintain, mostly about being able to become great public speaker and coach the coaching things new to me. I’ve managed drift for probably too many years by just doing the public speaking and not really working on getting good at it.

Then a mindset of maintaining openness to feedback and realizing that they are looking out for me and want me to improve. Now I know in many environments that’s not always the case, this one it is. If I was going into it new, I know they have free meetings where they invite guests and one of the things that I’ve really looked out for is how supportive are they with each other. It was very important to me that I found a group that was very, very focused on supporting each other. I can trust it that is accurate.

In terms of other people, what I need from my partner is encouragement. I do need to find an accountability partner, a coach, someone in the organization. I’m learning more in terms of what the club members are expecting from me and from each other. It does take time to embed in the community and it takes time to make friends. This is something that I just need to keep an eye on and just ask questions if I don’t understand something and just observe. You can learn a lot by observing the norms in any community.

Then in terms of how I interact with other people. Ryan, I’m going to use for feedback, also encouragement and I just need to ask him for encouragement. The online communities, again, I need to ask and then be open to the response. I’m going to wind up putting myself out there quite a bit over the next year as I go through this particular journey.

These are the resources, like the material resources in the system, resources that I need to put together. One is I just need to sit down and block the schedule. I’ve already done it for the meetings. I have not done it for speeches and I need to determine a cadence for when I intend to do projects. There’s a balance that I need to set. I don’t want to always be going up there speaking. I do want to spend some time in some of the other meeting roles and I’m sure they’d be very tired of hearing from me if every single meeting I went up there and spoke. I do also need to figure out what the formal expectations are. I know some of them, but not all of them.

And make time for that, both learning about it and doing what I need to do to fill those roles. I also need to get a better understanding of the participation structure. I need to get a better understanding of providing feedback and speech writing and what those norms are. After evaluating their materials, it’s pretty apparent to me that they are doing best practices. I just need to get clear on that. Practice it, get good.

This is my case study for joining a group. If you have any questions, comments, feedback about this video, please feel free to leave comments in the video comments or on the blog post where I’m also putting in the transcript for this video. Thank you so much for your time. I hope this helps.

Change for All Quadrants: Personal Change Planning – is now available for pre-order on Publishizer.
Campaign runs October 1-30, 2018.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Why Personal Change Planning?



I wanted to share with you why I’m focusing more on the personal, particularly in my practice, but also in the book. I think real change, especially when we’re looking at organizational change, especially if we’re looking at societal change needs to start in ourselves and then the next place it goes is in our interactions with others, the one on one interactions. It’s tough to interact in healthy ways, especially if someone’s angering you. If you’re tired, if you’re hungry, if you’re hangry, which is one of my favorite terms. If you’re overwhelmed, overstressed and a lot of the onus is put on us and I don’t know about you, but it strikes me that there’s a lot on our plate.

I’m going to speak for myself. Sometimes I feel like a failure because I’m not reacting very well to the crazy that’s going on out there. And it strikes me that maybe being angry and depressed is a really, really good reaction (and not unhealthy) to what we’re seeing in our organizations, what we’re seeing in the world and how we’re interacting with each other.

So I focused on personal because I think we’re in an environment that’s incredibly destabilizing and it’s made worse by our foundations being undermined. When I look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – at the bottom of it is physiology, the second level of that is a safety and security. When I was looking at the research, (and I will eventually share all this research with you, maybe just remind me, I’ll have to put it in the back of this video or as a separate. I think we’ll do it as a separate video.) People are not sleeping well. People are burned out and disengaged. Even if they are highly engaged, one out of five people are burned out. We’re not eating well. Even those of us who are trying to eat healthy, there’s a lot of questions about what’s going on with our food and water supply.

Then if you look at safety and security, the Gig economy is growing. There’s a lot more contractors. Layoffs, are a lot more common as businesses try to right-size or whatever it is that a lot of organizations are trying to do. Fundamentally, and in a lot of places people are treated like cogs in a machine and resources. It’s a very, very old model and it’s very dehumanizing and people sense that even if you try to paint a pretty picture around it. With pretty terms around, “we value our people.” That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. This is what we’re working with. So the way I see it, it behooves us individually to get ourselves right and then make sure that when we interact with others that we’re doing so as best as we can on any given day from a place of respect.

It’s easier to do that if we’re sleeping well, if we’re well nourished, than if we’re not. What I’d like to do is perform an experiment and I’d love your comments. This is more of an observational exercise. Take a look this week at the days where you’ve slept well, things are going well, you’re in a decent mood, and just observe how you interact with others. Especially when someone’s giving you bad news or they’re being aggravating.

Do the same thing on days where you haven’t slept well and things aren’t going your way. You’re running around meeting to meeting to meeting, eating junk food. Maybe someone brought a cake. How are you interacting with others? Where’s your hair trigger? Just for the week. I think if you experienced that and just kind of do observation, you might be surprised by what you find. I think it’s really good baseline too.

That’s why I’m focused very much on personal change planning because I think, too, that if you’re able to experience what successful change looks like on a very personal level and particularly as you look at how that change impacts other people. And how that impacts your interactions with other people. That applies to organizational change management because at the end of the day, an organization is a group of people and each one of those people, is an individual. They are not cogs in the machine. They’re not toys that you mess within your system and hope it works well.

That’s my invitation to you. I hope this helps. Please write your comments, your observations, um, and any feedback on this video at the, in the comments area, either here or on the blog or wherever you happen to be encountering this video. Thank you so much for your help and support. I hope you found this valuable.
Change for All Quadrants: Personal Change Planning – is now available for pre-order on Publishizer.
Campaign runs October 1-30, 2018.

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Thursday, October 04, 2018

I’m Writing a Book!

(Two actually….but this one will appear first.)

I’m writing Personal Change Planning – Deciding What to Pursue and Shrinking the Gap Between Desired State and Future State (working title).

Over the next month – I will be sharing case studies and facilitation techniques using the Change Planning Model I am developing.

The book promotion is from October 1 — October 30. My goal is 500 pre-orders.

More details on the book, an outline, progress, and a sample chapter will be available at starting 8am ET October 1, 2018. Check the link below.

Thank you so much for your support.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Update from The Lab

Cross-Posted at

Change Planning Update

Key changes:

  • I’ve separated out personal change planning and will concentrate on that during this phase of the project. Organizational Change Planning has been moved to phase 2. Opportunity knocked and I had to answer the door.
  • I’ve returned to Ken Wilber’s original definitions of the It and Its quadrants and simplified the explanation — mostly for myself.

Experiments have started and I will be sharing those over the next month as permitted.

The experiment list is available at – 

The Transformation (working title) — Book

As of September 28 — I was on-track for completing Section 1 by November 1. Because of the book promotion opportunity for Change Planning, my dates will slide 1 month. I am still on track for a July 2019 completion.

I expect word counts to increase as I continue writing.

Current status (by chapters in progress — this is far from all of the chapters planned):

Introduction — 75%, 1076 words

Section 1

On Paradigm Shifts and Revolutions — 50%, 2535 words

Old Paradigm — 50%, 3180 words

Anomalies and Crises — 25%, 4262 words. (I may split this section further)

Articulating the Old Paradigm — full outline

Competing Schools for the New Paradigm — full outline

Section 2

Addressing Wicked Problems — 10%, 1009 words

Organizational Design and Teams — 10% 1225 words

Mindset Shift Required — full outline

The process I’m using to write this is the same one I used when I wrote my Masters’ thesis in 1994.

  • Gather all the things
  • Separate quotes and references into the appropriate chapters
  • Put the references in my own words
  • Add my experience and commentary as appropriate.

Unlike 1994 — there are fewer paper notecards and many more electronic references. This is partially a result of technology and partially a result of the topic.

This is going to be a large book when it is finished. I suspect I will wind up pushing back the date instead of de-scoping since I’m receiving feedback that the survey is needed.

I will be updating my progress on the Personal Change Planning promotional effort weekly and the Transformation book next month.

Thank you all for your support and for encouraging me to show my work.

I have some free resources available that you may find useful. Each button will send you to a video and supporting PDF after requesting your email. Check “I would like to receive future communications” if you would also like to subscribe to my newsletter.

If you are looking for a safe space to practice new skills and you would like some help defining and creating a plan to implement important changes to the way you work or your career – go to  .

Thursday, September 27, 2018

How to Measure the Life Impact of a Change

Transcript (edited from

Like most coaches, we’re going to work with the wheel of life.

There’s going to be a couple of key differences though between how you and I are going to work together with this versus other coaches.

First – I wanted to make sure you could see how whatever area you’re focusing on impacts the other areas of your life because it’s going to impact other areas of your life.

What we’re going to do is work together to define how you see the areas of your life. We’ll start with this rough template.

We’re going to wind up ultimately with between five and 10 areas. Then, we’re going to work together to define which area you’re going to focus on for the 12 weeks and also which area we need to keep an eye on to make sure that it at least stays stable. We don’t want that area impacted.

For instance, over the past three months, I’ve been working on putting together this coaching practice, so I’ve been very focused in this work and education area. It was important to me to not impact my relationships negatively. So the area I’m keeping an eye on is relationships.

I’m not working to improve them necessarily. I just don’t want them to get any worse. Thankfully I’ve got really solid relationships with my family and friends. I’m very grateful for that. Work and education has been my area of focus. Relationship is the thing I’m keeping an eye on to make sure that’s not negatively impacted, and then these other areas are going to improve or decrease depending on whatever else is happening. In the health and appearance area, my workout regimen hasn’t been terribly consistent because I’ve been spending more time on work and education.

These things happen. If you’re focusing on one area, other areas are going to be impacted. Hopefully not negatively, but that is a risk. You need to decide what you’re willing to tolerate. We’re going to make sure that all of that is very clear during the course of our engagement.

The other thing that we’re going to be keeping an eye on (and I’m going to click on this progress tab) is any trends because what we don’t want to have happen is, “I’ve been focusing on work to the complete detriment of my health and appearance.” You don’t want to go from a level four to level one, so we want to keep an eye on that.

I think by using a dashboard, it’s going to be easier for both of us to really see what’s going on. We can see trends and whether things are trending up or down. Also, we can see what the current overall changes are in the averages. This is one of the tools that we’ll be working with in the coaching practice. I hope this helps.

I have some free resources available that you may find useful. Each button will send you to a video and supporting PDF after requesting your email. Check “I would like to receive future communications” if you would also like to subscribe to my newsletter.

If you are looking for a safe space to practice new skills and you would like some help defining and creating a plan to implement important changes to the way you work or your career – go to  .

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Reiteration of the Importance of Safe Spaces

For real learning to occur, you have to have a safe space to practice.

To create a learning organization, the organization has to be a safe space to practice.

If you want a coaching culture, coaching interactions need to be safe spaces.

These safe spaces can’t be “separate and apart” from the day-to-day work.

Google discovered during their research into high-performing teams that the #1 most important predictor of team success was psychological safety. Is a team a safe space for risk-taking in the face of seeming incompetent, disruptive, negative or ignorant?

You can’t have your only “safe spaces” be the training room. Or the 30-minute “coaching conversation.”

If you have a culture that fears failure, is highly competitive, and has no patience for experimentation – even those “safe spaces” aren’t safe.

Most employees know this. No wonder they resist – unless you have spent months (and, often, years) proving that you can be trusted.


I’ve written about this before: Reskilling Prong 4 – Safe Space

Resources – Google’s Project Aristotle, Research on Teams

What Google Learned (NY Times)
Results: Google Project Aristotle

I have some free resources available that you may find useful. Each button will send you to a video and supporting PDF after requesting your email. Check “I would like to receive future communications” if you would also like to subscribe to my newsletter.

If you are looking for a safe space to practice new skills and you would like some help defining and creating a plan to implement important changes to the way you work or your career – go to  .

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How to Avoid Expensive Mistakes

This is a 1978 Chevy Camaro.

Chevy produced the second generation from 1970 – 1981, with minor body modifications in response to new safety standards and changes to the motors in reaction to the early 70s gas crisis.

If I were to purchase a classic car, I have the following requirements.

– A 6’5” man (my partner) needs to be able to drive it.

– There needs to be enough trunk space for it to fit 2 sets of golf clubs

– And it needs to work well enough to be a daily driver. That means

+ AC

+ Unleaded gasoline

+ The car runs

+ The transmission shifts

+ and the brakes work

This is my type of classic car – a 1971 Camaro that has been restored within an inch of its life, with a modern engine, modern features, a fancy interior and a brand new paint job.  I thought this one was gorgeous. Understated. Looks fast. Is fast.

I knew it would meet all the requirements. Except one.

Would my 6’5” partner fit in it?

I was by myself. I’m 5’6”. I am not a very good gauge for whether he would fit in the car.

A little later, I ventured back to this car and found 2 men taking a closer look.

One was 5’11”, the other 6 feet.  I asked how comfortable they found it.

Not very was their answer. There was no way my 6’5” partner would fit in the passenger seat, nevermind the driver seat.

If I had the money and went into this without a set of requirements, I likely would have purchased this car, brought it home, and encountered one very disappointed partner.

How many large enterprise purchases has your company made because someone with money saw something shiny and didn’t go into the purchase with any requirements?

What did that ultimately cost you?

In this case – if I purchased this Camero – it would have been a 90,000 mistake.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Overlooked Value

The 1974 Dodge Dart Swinger. This was considered a compact car by American manufacturers in the early 70s.  This was originally around $3000, maybe a bit more with the factory air conditioning.

This was the type of car that my high school friends used to drive as $100 junkers back in the mid-1980s.

One of the great things about car auctions is watching those $100 junkers go for thousands of dollars.

In this instance, this car was bid up to $10,000. And didn’t sell – at least, on the auction block.

Still, someone was willing to pay ten thousand dollars – not including the auction fees – for a mid 70s era Dodge Dart. Of limited special provenance, other than being low mileage, still running with the original engine and in decent shape.


It made me wonder – what do we have lying around that may have value? What are we over-looking that we can use?


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Mastery Through Chaos

This past August, I went down to Radford, Virginia with some friends to watch the Tour of Destruction.

I thought the Tour of Destruction events were great examples of using creative constraints to increase mastery.

In this particular event – drivers in barely-running junkers race backwards around a wall.

Many of these cars have unreliable steering, unreliable breaks, iffy visibility, and threaten to break down at a moment’s notice.

These same drivers at other points in the evening, raced these same cars forward while circling another dead junker – adding a demolition derby component, played car soccer, and raced buses.

I have a hard enough time backing a car into a parking space in a vehicle with working power steering, even with today’s backup cameras.  To me – this seemingly chaotic bit of racing was a demonstration of mastery.


Part of the Tour of Destruction is a demonstration of the Green Mamba – a homemade jet car that burned so hot you could feel the heat at the top of the stands. It was an impressive feat of garage engineering.

One week after Radford’s Tour of Destruction, the Green Mamba crashed into a wall during an exhibition run, killing Doug Rose – the driver.


Please help the Tour of Destruction raise money to help Doug’s wife Jeanne restore the car. 


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dave Grohl on Learning and Creative Constraints

Despite becoming a legend in rock, Dave Grohl continues to keep learning.

Sonic Highways, for instance, was an exercise in traveling to a city, writing a song on-the-spot, recording it in a local studio, and filming the process.  The first constraint was more than enough. Adding movie production on top of it? Because…Dave Grohl.

In this clip, he links how he uses the occasionally ridiculous challenges he sets for himself as a way for him to extend his mastery and get better at his craft.

The constraints force him to get creative and extend his skills into uncomfortable areas.  He’s forced back into the uncertainty of the beginner. Can I do this?

Dave Grohl is well past the point where he needs to get uncomfortable.  He does it because he wants to keep learning and growing.

This is what lifelong learning is about.

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Thursday, September 06, 2018

Change Planning As a Project Decision Tool

All projects are change initiatives

Classical project planning goes through initiation, planning, execution and closure cycles.  Agile projects follow a similar model, just with faster and more frequent cycles between planning and execution.

Typically – Change Management activities occur sometime during execution when the project team realizes that they need to implement their project to others. Most of us have seen how well this works.

Organizations with more mature project and change management practices put change planning during the planning phase. This is typically where the stakeholder and communications management plans are developed, along with any RACI matrices.  It is assumed that the project is a good idea and will be accepted when we get to the planning stage.

I believe that if we put Change Planning in front of the project process, we can determine whether we should spend the time, money, and human resources on the project in the first place.

We can better predict the chances of a project succeeding.

And we can identify simple activities we can do to lay the groundwork for the change you wish to make.

All projects are change initiatives.  We are messing with how people do their work.

And, frequently, whether we plan this or not, these projects have an impact on the culture – for good or ill.

By putting our change planning at the FRONT of our project cycle, during initiation, we can see whether the organization is ready for the change and start laying the groundwork well before the allocation of money and resources.

You may find that the project may not need to be done in the first place.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Meaningful Flow Lab Status Report – August 29, 2018

Cross-posted to Medium

Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback on the project to date.

Notes from this month:

  • I have separated the Book project from the Change Planning Model project. Having a new Change Planning Model within the book weakens my argument for the book that much of what we need for the Transformation is already available. Furthermore, this buys me some time to test the Change Planning Model (thank you Dave Grey for the advice to test until I can easily have others execute the model without having to be there to explain it)
  • I received some great feedback from Robb Smith at Integral Life around incorporating developmental level analysis into my Change Planning Model. He suggests that it may not be necessary. Furthermore, there is no “quick” way of determining someone’s “level” or identifying a center of gravity for a culture without lengthy observation. Doing level assessment also runs the risk of inappropriately labeling people/situations/cultures in a way that is too simplistic.
  • The first video (Book Project) is a dress rehearsal for my Conscious Business Change Agent Certification (CBCA) final project presentation. I am presenting August 28, 2018.
  • The video of the Change Planning Model (2nd video) includes level analysis since I had filmed this before my discussion with Robb Smith. I decided to share anyway so I can accurately show how the model evolves.

Video 1 (46 minutes)

Video 2 – Change Planning Model (22 minutes)

Activities for September 2018

  • Complete and publish experiment designs for the Change Planning Model for review.
  • Get cracking on the writing for the book. I have set the due date for the survey section to November 1, 2018.
  • Identify funding sources for this work.

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Teams as its own Process Area

Team Management, in Version 6 of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOKv6), is buried in the Project Resource Management Knowledge Area under the Executing Process Group.

PMBOKv6 is 756 dense pages (not including the Agile Practice Guide). Of those pages, only 45 of them mention teams. Only 25 of those pages talk about teams in any detail.   That detail is mired in discussions of documentation inputs and outputs along with a brief exhortation to use good interpersonal skills.

Stakeholders get their own Knowledge Area. I would argue that they get TWO Knowledge Areas – if you also include Project Communications Management.

The Project Team is the group that makes the project actually happen.

So why do Teams get such short shrift?  Why is any concentration on teamwork buried in the Execution phase as one of many resources – like materials and money?

Even materials (Project Procurement Management) and money (Project Cost Management) get their own Knowledge Areas – along with being included in Project Resource Management.

So much of what we do these days requires team health and team resilience.

The project failures I have witnessed have been a result of dysfunctional project teams.

Successful projects (often in spite of everything else) have been a result of high-performing, highly resilient project teams.

We need to start paying more attention to team resilience and team health.

One way we can do that is by making Project Team Management a recognized knowledge center – separate and apart from Project Resource Management (which also includes materials, equipment, supplies, and facilities).

The processes I propose within Project Team Management :

  • Initiating Process Group – Identify Roles, Identify Team Members
  • Planning Process Group – Plan Team Management (including team management and performance norms), Estimate Assignments,
  • Execution Process Group – Acquire Team, Develop Team, Manage Team (These are already in the Execution Process Group for Project Resource Management)
  • Monitor Process Group – Monitor Team Performance, Monitor Team Resilience (and yes, I see these as two separate things that need to be monitored – because the team can perform well and be completely burned out)
  • Closing Process Group – Lessons Learned, Reassign Team

The people who help us make an idea real should be given the attention (and support) they deserve.

Thank you to Robb Smith, CEO of Integral Life, for his recommendation that team health, performance standards and norms should be built into the project charter.  I deeply appreciate his time and enjoyed our enlightening discussion last week.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Aretha Franklin and Teamwork

Aretha Franklin’s 1998 Grammys performance of Nessun Dorma, beyond it being a masterclass in deeply respecting the source material while making it your own, was an illustration of great team functioning.

Luciano Pavarotti, the legendary tenor, had to cancel his performance at the last minute.

The impact would have left a huge hole in the program. The producers stared at the specter of having to come up with something “entertaining” quickly. The orchestra and chorus were staring down the possibilities of either losing their gig or having to learn a new song impossibly fast. Staging, other presenters and performers, broadcasting – all impacted.

Then Aretha stepped up, 30 minutes beforehand, and sang it in Pavarotti’s key.

The aria is difficult enough. Singing it outside one’s natural range – just…wow.   (The link is a recording of her singing the aria her way. Notice that she’s pitched it up a bit.)

By Aretha stepping up the way she did, everyone wins.

Aretha gets to show off a skill she’s been practicing in a friendlier environment and be a hero.

The audience gets a unique version of this Puccini operatic showstopper.

The orchestra keeps their gig.

And the production team collapsed in relief.


Organizations dream of having teams where talented individuals willingly step in for each other so that the show goes on.

Some of the best teams I’ve been on have had these characteristics.

  • Talented individuals.
  • An understanding and acceptance of the goal and the desired outcome.
  • A willingness to stretch if they have a skill that they may not use very often or are just learning, but is needed at that moment.
  • Encouraging team members who appreciate the help – even if it is not what they expected.
  • An appreciative organization that allows the team member to do the work without fear of criticism or judgment.

Aretha Franklin stepped up and rescued the 1998 Grammys – taking a HUGE risk to her reputation by subbing for a legendary tenor at the last minute. She did this without making anyone else adjust.  This is why she is legendary.

RIP Ms. Franklin and thank you.
Subscribe to my monthly newsletter!

Each month, I will share resources and materials centered around a theme.

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– Special subscriber-only offers

– First-dibs on new services and offerings

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I promise not to spam you with repeated emails during marketing campaigns and I will do my best to provide value with each interaction.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Spicy Octopus Dumplings and Risk Mitigation

In an earlier video – I mentioned that I purchased a bag of spicy octopus dumplings.

Let’s say that I want to serve spicy octopus dumplings to my friends – Mary, Dave, June, and Mike.

The Spicy Octopus Dumplings are the change. Mary, Dave, June, and Mike are the people in the organization.

If we want to serve Spicy Octopus Dumplings to our friends (or…make a change to the org), it helps to figure out whether the people in the organization (or my friends) are ready for the change (or, in this case, for the spicy octopus dumplings).

I am going to assume that none of my friends have ever had spicy octopus dumplings before.

To evaluate the potential success of the meal, I am going to break down the components.

For spicy octopus dumplings, we need to ask whether:

  • The individual likes (or can at least tolerate) spicy food.
  • The individual has tried, likes, or can tolerate) octopus.
  • If they haven’t tried octopus before, do they like seafood?
  • The individual has tried and likes dumplings.

I’m going to add whether the person has tried and liked other forms of Korean food to this questionnaire. If the person is familiar with the flavor profile of Korean food, they are more likely to accept the change.

Mary – loves spicy food, has tried and liked octopus at the local sushi joint, and thinks dumplings are awesome.  She hasn’t had Korean food before, but she’s an adventurous eater.  The spicy octopus dumplings shouldn’t be a problem.

Dave – likes spicy food and loves dumplings.  He’s never had octopus before, but he likes other forms of seafood. And he’s never tried Korean food, but he’s willing to try. He also has a high likelihood of liking the spicy octopus dumplings.

June – likes dumplings and is OK with some forms of seafood – white fish is ok, but things like clams, oysters and strong tasting fish are not. She also doesn’t tolerate spicy food and thinks that octopus is disgusting. She’s also very suspicious of Korean food and is not going to try it voluntarily. Spicy Octopus dumplings are going to be a harder sell.

And Mike’s entire diet is hamburgers, fries and diet cokes.

If the organization is mostly filled with Marys and Daves as we attempt to implement the spicy octopus dumpling change, you are likely going to be ok.

You can reduce some of the risk of rejection by introducing them to Korean food and Octopus.

And since Mary already enjoys octopus, she can help Dave with acceptance.

It helps if YOU have experience with and are a fan of Korean food if you are trying to implement the spicy octopus dumpling change.  This will help guide the rest of the organization with NO experience and provide a safe space for trying out this new thing.

But what if your organization is filled with Junes and Mikes?

You have a mismatch between your organization and the change you wish to create.

You will likely need to adjust.

Maybe you can have leek dumplings as your change instead?  You are still serving dumplings – but it is not spicy, not octopus, and generally pretty mild.  And if June likes Chinese food, you have a much higher chance of succeeding.

But you still have Mike. How much do you need to accommodate Mike?

  • Is he a senior executive or CEO?
  • Can you provide an alternative that does not impact the baseline change you need to make?
  • Do we even have to dis-invite Mike to make this change happen?
  • Or do we have to give up on the change altogether?

The answers and solution depend on your circumstances.

No matter what – keep an eye on WHY you are making the change.

If your goal is to have a nice dinner with friends – maybe a burger and fries will work after all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Risk and Choice

(Transcript from Temi – edited for context)

One of the ways you can mitigate risk is by the selection of the risk that you take.

Some organizations and some people are risk averse and likely for good reason and some have a much higher tolerance for risk.

I’m going to use the products from my international grocery store trip for an example.

Item one is the donut peach. Now, if you’re trying to donut peach new for the first time, this is at a fairly low risk. Most of us have had peaches and we know whether or not we like the peach and this tastes like a peach. It smells like a peach. It looks like a peach, just a little squishy.

This, to me is like an upgrade between something like project management systems. I know we’ve got a project management system. We just need to do an upgrade to it or transition to one that’s somewhat similar. So… low risk change.

Slightly higher risk is, say, going from a pear, which many of us have had before and many of us know we like them, to something like this, which is also a pear.

Now, some of us live in an area who have had a chance to try Asian pears. We don’t know whether or not this pear is like an Asian pear or not and this was the first time I’ve tasted it.

So yeah, this is like an Asian pear just in terms of texture, so it’s a lot crunchier than your normal pair, little closer to an apple and this is a lot sweeter than Asian pears, which tend to go more towards the apple side of things. This is more like a really, really sweet bosc pair, but with apple texture, so pretty good. But again, this is higher risk.

The analogy I would use here would be – I’ve got a fairly good project management process. I need a tool to help me automate it or help me solve a problem that I’m struggling with in my current process. Like resource management.

Again, it’s a calculated risk, slightly higher risk tolerance. Um, these are really good.

An even higher risk – something like this, small octopus dumplings. Now, depending on how you feel about octopus, your risk level on this, uh, might be higher than most people. I happen to like octopus when it’s done well.

You can mitigate it (the risk).

An example – let’s say I’ve never tried octopus. I know, I like dumplings. Higher risk. We’ll find out whether or not you like octopus.

The other, slightly lower, risk is I know I like octopus. I know I liked dumplings. This should be good.

I would actually use this more as a metaphor for – we don’t really have a project management process. We do some stuff on spreadsheets. We’ve got a few things at work. Let’s try to implement a system.

That will be more of your small octopus dumpling.

I will actually report back, let you know how this is (the small octopus dumplings). This was one of my picks. An interesting thing I have not tried yet. And, honestly, I enjoy picking out things like this to freak out my friends. So hope that helps as an analogy.

If you have access to a farmer’s market nearby and it’s in season, go ahead and get yourself some donut peaches. This is probably your lowest risk thing. I hope this helps.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

How to Try New Things

(Transcript from Temi)

Hi. I just got back from the Korean grocery store. One of the great things about living in the DC area is that we have a number of fantastic international grocery stores and digging through these things is one of my absolute favorite things to do and one of the things I’d love to do on at the Asian grocery store is pick out some vegetable or some product that I’ve never actually tried before.

This particular plant is Taiwanese spinach and this one’s a little more of a calculated risk than some of the things that I pick up.

One, I was able to discern that yes, this is spinach and two, I’ve got a rough idea of how to handle greens or how to cook greens, but I have no idea how this is going to behave when I cook it and I don’t particularly know what it tastes like.

And so far the only thing I can come up with is spinach with a little bit of soap. So this might not be a repeat purchase, but my plan for this particular bunch of greens is to put it in soup so I’ll be able to mask any soapiness out of this.

This really speaks to risk and taking risks and trying new things. It could be as simple as doing this in your personal life first were and in a small scale like going to the grocery store and picking up something brand new that you’ve never tasted before or never tried before.

You don’t have to buy a ton of it. You don’t even really have to eat all of it. You could taste it and come up with a calculated reason why you don’t like it.

One, you can now say you’ve tried it and you don’t like it, and two, you can explain why that is.

Or you’ve discovered something that you really enjoy.

You can do the same thing in your business – find a really small technique that you’ve never tried before.

When you’re managing your project or you’re working with your team, something really low risk and experiment with it. Talk to your team afterwards. Then you’ll have an educated reason as to why you did like the technique or you didn’t like the technique.

So whether it’s doing standup meetings where you have your developers lead those meetings and you can see what’s working, what’s not and why.

And if you decide to not do that again, you’ll at least know why you didn’t want to do it again.

Thank you. And I hope this helps.