Giving Tuesday … An Idea Whose Time Has Come… LIterally

Giving Tuesday

We survived MuddyThursday and Black Friday…

We celebrated Small Business Saturday and continued to party through Cyber Monday …

Now it’s time for some altruism.

Deciding who gets a donation today in the Heartland ….


Hashtag for you Twitterites among us:  #GivingTuesday

I Don’t Believe It … Part 5


Well, this one hurts a little:) … As someone who styles themselves as an external “wise guy” who can help facilitate change, part of me wants to shout “Except me!   Hire me!“.

However, a small amount of reflection tells me this myth is alive and well.  I have experienced first-hand the emotions and conflict around bringing in outside experts who turn out to have only a well-honed presentation style and sales pitch, but who ultimately do not help the organization change.   Well, they do influence change, but not for the better.

Actually, the best external consultants have one specific focus:  Making the team or organization healthy and effective enough to fire them.

When someone has invested significant effort to making themselves appear very necessary to an organization, changing that earlier perception is hard to do … unless the outside expert is very good at their work and really understands the role of the facilitator.

The best summation of the argument against this myth presented in the book is this statement:

“The best position to lead teams out of resistance is the position that has the authority to hold the team accountable and support the team in overcoming resistance.”

This deceptively straight-forward statement has several inferences which I firmly believe about leadership, teams, and change.



We can talk all day about leading from wherever you are in the organizational structure, but being in a position with authority facilitates doing so ~ if the person with the position uses it for positive growth.

One very damaging tacit assumption in this myth is that we cannot handle change ourselves, but must turn to some outside source, who will magically do what we poor mortals were unable to do.

An outside expert can offer tools and perspective.  They can skillfully lead groups to discover what they already know and help them make their goals become accomplishments.  They are contributors, but not necessarily leaders.


We are often good at stating what should happen and why, but we also sometimes forget to add what will happen as a result

Accountability is not established by statements like “Violations of this policy will result in significant disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”  That’s no accountability, that’s legalese in HR clothing.

Accountability is when both the negative and positive possible outcomes are clearly delineated, along with the full range of specific responses.

Of course, then you have to actually follow through by making what you say will happen … well, happen:)


As noted above, accountability includes not just clearly stating and enforcing standards and expectations, but also has to do with identifying what and who is working, reward that behavior, and nurture more of it.  

This implies an ongoing role for those who lead and manage in an organization to support and nurture the momentum of positive change.

After all, these are the people who have the institutional knowledge and engagement to be the change agents … they just need the right tools.

If I had unlimited space and you had unlimited attention, we could discuss the essential role of organizational culture in all this, but that’s a topic for another day.

Looking inside for strength and wisdom in the Heartland ….




Reut Schwartz-Hebron of the Key Change Institute discusses five myths in her recently published book  “The Art and Science of Changing People Who Don’t Want to Change”. 
This post is number 5 in a short series based on this great new resource for those of us who work with people and change.  Click on the titles to read:
Part 1 – Personalities are fixed
Part 2 – Belief that more information and better logic will change people
 Part 3 – For people to change, they first have to trust the change agent
Part 4 – It’s best to avoid resistance unless it’s actively blocking progress

I Don’t Believe It … Part 4


I once spent six months totally focused on training a corporate headquarters and regional staff on a very comprehensive personal productivity system.  For almost everyone, this marked a complete change in how they handled paper documents, files, archives, computer data, and their daily work routines.

Thus I learned some things about resistance . . . 

Resistance can be in-your-face overt or devilishly passive.

Resistance never happens for its own sake.  Something else is always driving the behavior.

Resistance is energy.   Sometimes energy destroys and sometimes energy creates.  It’s all in how you deal with it.

Reut Schwartz-Hebron (see notes below) approaches resistance as a lack of skills on the part of those who resist.  When you lack control, you will try to regain control by whatever means are available.  

Sometimes you pick up the right tool and can use it effectively.  More often, you choose the tool which is available, but wrong … and things go south.

 “Resistance itself is a representation of the strategies people are missing.”

“The solution for resistance isn’t to ignore it.  The best way to deal with resistance is to equip teams with the strategies that will remove resistance at its core.”

So we always returns to the idea that people changing need new and different Key Strategies to be successful.  More on this later.

Considering how to resist resistance in the Heartland ….


Reut Schwartz-Hebron of the Key Change Institute discusses five myths in her recently published book  “The Art and Science of Changing People Who Don’t Want to Change”. 
This post is number 4 in a short series based on this great new resource for those of us who work with people and change.  Click on the titles to read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

“How’s That Working For Ya?” …

A few years ago, I aspired for my work to be all that …

So I embarked on the quest to be completely open and honest at work.  I tried to honest with my co-workers and my boss, I attempted to be at ease, even in some difficult encounters, and generally tried to live in the moment every single day.

To quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for ya?”

… a mixed bag, at best.

I had some incredible, almost Zen moments where I felt completely at east, just like Michael Carroll describes, and I felt a new sense of togetherness with the people with whom I worked.

However, honesty and openness is not a universally desired characteristic of the workplace.  Personal politics exists in all places where people gather and even the best of work environments is not immune.

Not everyone else wanted to play the game with my rules.

I shared my honest perception of a possible initiative with our president … and was told I was not “supportive” and the ultimate insult of “not a team player“.  Apparently I was not moving the ball toward the goalpost, even though I though we should not be playing football in the first place.

I tried to be open to criticism and became known to some as “the whipping boy“.  Openness requires vulnerability, which comes from risking, which is seem by some as strength and some as weakness.  Unfortunately, those who see weakness are often more aggressive in taking advantage of their perception.

My attempts to consider the more spiritual aspect of our work was met with gratitude from some and distrust from others.  “Why are you doing this?” can be an honest question or a veiled comment.  The raised eyebrow sometimes helps the interpretation.

I was labeled “soft” and “a dreamer” (which I took as a high compliment):)  Of course, since I worked in an operational part of our business, I was not allowed to be either, since “everyone knows” that business is all about being decisive and action-oriented.  Many large companies no longer exist because of decisiveness and action without thought and reflection.

Some who I counted as supporters and some who I perceived as oppositional traded places.  This is the way of the world and my mistake was to pin my strength to having other’s support. Nice when it’s there, but if you only feel motivated when you have a critical mass of supporters, you may be waiting a long, long while for that magical time.

Setting aside for the moment my possible gap in communication skills, I reflect on all of this and come up with important considerations as we attempt to change ourselves and our environments: Continue reading

Of Oatmeal and Kaizen …

I was just fixing some instant oatmeal  … honest!

Then it hit me … if I cut off the cardboard flaps on the oatmeal box, they would no longer catch on the sides of the drawer. One quick search for a cutting tool and a few seconds of hard, manual labor … problem solved. In the middle of this little “fix it” moment, I flashed back on my first experience with the concept of continuous improvement.  

Flashback to my first professional position after graduate school:

I was responsible for the safe and effective operation of facilities, supervision of full-time and part-time staff, and charged with making resident student’s lives “better” by enhancing the educational experience of college.   I was also acutely tuned to anything which might help me do all that.  A little grounding in the work of W. Edwards Deming , along with a cursory knowledge of the PDCA Cycle and I was hooked.   Used the concept of continuous improvement in almost every professional experience since, in both paid and volunteer positions, and apparently, my personal life.

How else to explain cutting cardboard in the morning? Continue reading