Hibernate to Improve your Leadership

As we celebrate the Winter Solstace in North America, I am reminded of the value we can derive from “the longest day of darkness of 2016.” It is fitting that this day comes as we turn the clock towards 2017. Much like our wildlife respond to the darkeness by hibernating, we too can hibernate in a purposeful way to advance our leadership style. 

Enough has been said about the year of 2016. It is likely that you have had your ups and downs professionally and personally. By hibernating on our leadership style, we close our eyes and look inside to reflect and deepen the  awareness of our impacts enabling us to refine how we lead in our work and homes. 

To jump start your leadership hibernation, I offer some questions. On a professional level, what is it in your current way of leading that enabled those ups and downs? What is it in your personal life that enabled those ups and downs at home, and in the office. To explore these questions, try this activity:

  • Take out a piece of paper
  • Draw a line down the middle
  • Title it with your greatest leadership impact of 2016, written in a sentence like “As a result of [insert your action(s) taken], I enabled [insert impact] to happen.”
  • Take 3-5 minutes with your eyes closed and relive that experience in your mind
  • On the left side of this paper capture the choices, thoughts, and feelings that you recall through that action and impact. 
  • On the right side of the paper capture the actions, and behaviors you made happen. 
  • Reflect and hibernate on how you can and will do more of this in 2017

Then, take out another piece of paper

  • Perform the same exercise, this time under the title of your greatest leadership mistake of 2016
  • Do the exercise
  • Reflect and hibernate on how you can and will do less of this in 2017

Finally, make a commitment to move both of these experiences into action by any of the following ways:

  • Seal the pieces of paper in an envelope to be opened before the end of Q1.
  • Write the impacts on a post it and leave it on a visible part of your desk as s daily reminder
  • Take a photo of the exercise papers and save them to your phone wall paper or background as a frequent reminder

Hibernating on your leadership helps to find the breakthrough in your style that can unleash greater impacts in 2017. Go into that quiet space, and contemplate how you plan to advance your leadership impact in 2017. 

What is Your Human Condition?


We all share the human condition, and just as we are all unique individuals, so is our individual human condition. You have an opportunity, more so an obligation, to work with your own human condition with respect to your leadership of self and others.

Your human condition is shaped in two ways. First, it is shaped by the external experiences you have with your environment. Second it is shaped by your internal reactions to your environment, or the story you tell yourself about your experiences.

Discover Your Human Condition

To discover your particular human condition, first seek to understand what signals your environment is sending you. Are your colleagues supportive or punitive with their words and actions? What is the story they are telling you through their words and actions?

Second, ask yourself “what is the story that I am telling myself?” As you go about your day, be it a work day or a weekend, try to observe yourself and the messages that you send to yourself. If you are presenting to a client or team of people, what is your state of mind? Are you whispering to yourself that the meeting is going to be a success, or is there self doubt creeping in or dominating your thoughts? These external and internal perspectives help to share your human condition.

Discover Your Corporate Condition

By the way, the same internal / external human condition concept that applies to you as an individual, applies to your business entity. What is the story that your employees and leaders are telling themselves and each other about the company? This is your company’s internal story. Is that story supporting or inhibiting your ability to achieve your strategic intentions?

Your customers are telling stories too. They are shaping your corporate condition through the experiences they share with others and with your employees. Finally, what story are your employees telling your customers? The messages to your customers are your company’s external story.

Changing Your Human Condition

To work with or change your human condition, you must start with your internal story. You cannot directly change your external environment or other’s words and actions, but you can directly change the internal story you are telling yourself.

In my experience, the most impactful option to change your human condition is to change your own mindset. A highly valuable method for changing your mindset is meditation. Meditation leads to mindfulness which leads to a new way of seeing, feeling, and deciding about yourself and others.

Check Out What Harvard Says About Meditation and Strategy Implementation

Changing Your Corporate Condition

To lead your company, you need to start with yourself in the journey. By changing your internal story, you change other’s story about you and your role model the change required at the company level.

Developing new ways of seeing, feeling, and deciding is critical for strategy implementation, transformation, and leadership breakthrough because this new way of seeing, feeling, and deciding generates a new human condition to be shared by yourself, your employees, and your customers.

To learn more about how these concepts come together for corporate transformation, please visit http://www.businesschangeleader.com.

Are You Living Your Purpose?

Have you asked yourself “what is your purpose in this world” or “what is your legacy”? I find these questions to be profoundly shifting in relation to how we view ourselves on a daily basis. Having asked these questions a dozen or so times, with only those who I have my most trusted relationship with, each time, it is like time has stopped, and the recipients of my question are “stopped in their tracks” pausing to take a perspective of their life inside the office as well as outside the office to consciously ponder an answer. I rarely, if ever, have received an immediate answer that honors the depth of the question. And the recipients get the depth! That’s why they are “stopped in their tracks”.

I submit to you that these are questions that bring clarity to life, to your daily comings and goings, to your trials and tribulations, and to measure the value of the investment you make daily with the cost of doing so.

If you have read this far into my post, I have an ask for you. Is it the – trying to answer the question in the title – that drew you to read these details? If so, where do you find your mind wandering? Is it outside of you, towards your career, profession, title, income, or social status? Or, is it inside of you, towards your values, beliefs, and honest intentions as if no one were judging or measuring you by your answer? Either was is fine. If your default response is of the former, the outside, write it down, take note, and then look inside, to your higher self. Complete your answer from the outside and then look inside. If your response is of the latter, the inside, ask yourself “why”. Stay in the question, the wonderment of your purpose for another minute, hour, week, or month. This is not an answer who’s quality is measured in response time. Any answer is accurate, and only you know the true answer.

Stay in the question. Be in enquiry of the question AND the answer, for, how do you truly know that your answer is the true answer to the question: what is your life’s purpose? You will rarely find a better question or answer to ponder in life. And if you do, please let me know because I am very curious to hear your perspective.

How to find your spiritual path

As we all progress in our own individual journeys, we periodically come across others that are doing related work. I have experienced this several times in life, and Wendy Quan is one of my newest experiences. Like a rope is braided, so are our individual and collective journeys toward greater consciousness.

In a recent entry, Wendy eloquently and shared simple insight into the meditative experience that we all have access to, if we choose.

As we enter the culmination of the Holiday season, I encourage you to take 3 minutes to read Wendy’s latest gift to the blogging world. Once you have checked it out, take 5 minutes to stop and consider how you might weave meditating into your 2016 plans, as an investment in yourself and your own happiness, you deserve it.

The Calm Monkey

Spiritual path Find your spiritual path and purpose by learning to sit in silence. It develops your intuition and awareness.

If you live your life in a state of constant busy-ness, life is flying by without much meaning and you figure there must be more to life, I write this post for you.

Allow me to turn the clock back about 15 years ago, and explain that’s exactly where I was in my life.  Life was just busy and although I was doing fine, I did not feel passion for life like I envied in some people I observed.  Now that I’m able to look back to 15 years ago and clearly reflect on what I was feeling, here are the kinds of thoughts I had:

How could I find my path?  Is it a spiritual path I am seeking?  How would I even go about finding a spiritual path? How can…

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Are you achieving your higher self? A Simple Two Question Test.


Many years ago, my work shifted from a job to a career. In the recent years, my career became my vocation. Along this journey, my work / goals / objectives expanded beyond integrating processes and systems, to integrating people and teams, to now include helping others expand themselves so they may better achieve their own work / goals / objectives.

Along these lines, the question of “am I achieving my higher self” arose which I now answer on weekly basis in two simple questions:

  1. Am I getting things done?
  2. Am I leaving others with an experience where they want to get more things done with me?

I have to answer yes to both questions to possibly claim I am achieving my higher self.

Lots of people get things done, and they leave a trail of “broken glass” experiences in others like damaged self-confidence, career set backs, troubled relationships, joblessness, etc. We all know the types, they always deliver results “by any means necessary”. Perhaps there is a place in our world for people like this, but not around me.

This is why question #2 is so critical, and a great test of achieving one’s higher self.

When you are able to deliver results by getting things done, AND people enjoy the experience of working / being with you, you ignite others to achieve more and elevate your impact in the world.

What is Your Life Map?

It’s been a long time since I posted an update, and I look forward to reversing this trend in 2015. I have been seeking the topic, post, or theme that would inspire me back into writing posts. I have found one such topic.

The TED talk below introduces some social studies and technology that may change how you commute to work or the gym. Daniele Quercia calls his work, Happy Maps. in the 7 minute video he describes a cartography of his commute to work being driven by happiness and not efficiency. His discussion of his commute cartography moved me to consider this same concept applied to other contexts beyond a daily work commute.

Inspired by this video, I want to expand your awareness regarding Happy Maps to a larger context. Each day, we travel through our life as leaders in our families, work environments, communities, and even ourselves. In doing so, we create a cartography for our days. On any given Monday the cartography of our life may be characterized by family, work, exercise, and maybe some entertainment if we manage to squeeze in the favorite show we recored on our DVR. The cartography of our days will change based on the activities or destinations we experience. Some days may be filled with more happiness, if you change your work commute using the Happy Maps being developed by Quercia. Some days may continue to be ruled by efficiency, if you use your mapping app in a traditional manner.

I want to pivot this concept of cartography from the traditional mapping app through the concept of a Happy Map and into a Life Map. How would you describe the cartography of your life?

  • What destinations, activities, experiences, and emotions are you creating in your family, work, and community life?
  • What destinations, activities, experiences, and emotions are you creating in yourself?
  • How would your family observe and describe your life map?
  • How would your co-workers observe and describe your life map?
  • How would your community observe and describe your life map?
  • How would you observe and describe your own life map?

Having pondered these questions, I would then challenge all of us to consider if you are consciously designing your life map or are you unconsciously navigating life, missing opportunities to create destinations, activities, experiences, and emotions in yourself and others?

These same questions can be directed to the context of transformation, possibly as a transformation map. As leaders of change and transformation, what destinations, activities, experiences, and emotions are we generating in others and ourselves? Are they done so consciously with purpose and intention or are they accidental and unconscious thereby generating unintended consequences and resistance to the change.

Regardless of the context of the map, we can all take ownership of it by designing our map to reflect not only the efficiency and effectiveness that our societal environment so frequently demands, but also the emotional experience that we as human beings all deserve. Maybe you would design your life map to be characterized as a Happy Map, or maybe efficiency is the design, either way, I encourage you to purposefully and consciously design your Life Map based on what emanates from inside you with a whole life perspective inclusive of emotions and experiences.

The #1 Change Technique

Rowing technique


Are you leading change in an environment with significant resistance? Are you placing the blame for the resistance on “them”? Do “they not get it”?


Of all the change techniques available to us, the most fundamental and pragmatic approach is to bring the impacted stakeholders of the change into the problem space.


How many times have you seen a large change or transformation get strategized, designed, built, and then deployed with little to no impacted stakeholder involvement? These approaches are often sold with rationalizations like…


1) We don’t have the talent to deal with this complex a problem.
2) We need outside perspective, not the same old way of doing things that our current employees built over the last several years.
3) If we acknowledge this change now by engaging our employees, we’ll lose control of the messaging and people will resist.
4) Its a competitive advantage to not let people know yet. We’ll include them when we are ready.


Secrets kill change.


You can mitigate resistance by…


1) Including the appropriate level and number of your impacted stakeholders in the understanding of the problem.
2) Designing the change solution based on some but not necessarily all the input of the impacted stakeholders.
3) Making champions out of the star impacted stakeholders who demonstrate a passion for change and “the new way”.


Bring your impacted stakeholders into the problem. Define “change success requirements” and you will lower the resistance.



Elevating the Role of the CIO – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of this article, we discussed the requirement for a management system to assist CIO’s with generating more value. We teed up the idea of how a CIO can improve their relationship with their Board of Directors by managing technology as a business.

There is significant thought leadership originating from a group call the Technology Business Management Council (www.tbmcouncil.org) regarding these same concerns. What is a CIO’s management system and how can they implement something that is transferable from one industry to another so their peers and board might more easily grasp their world?

As a reference, check out the Technology Business Management Framework below.


This framework provides a consistent language to communicate the world of technology in business terms that are industry agnostic. CIO’s are dealing with these challenges on a daily basis, and they are all implementing management systems to plan, monitor, and preside over these concepts. Imagine if each CIO were able to articulate their management system and approach to adding value using this framework? If they did, they might be closer to the CFO and Chief Counsel role standards described in PArt 1 of this article.

Further, if CIO’s were able to manage, communicate, and deliver using this standard framework, I suggest that they would change the dialog they have with their boards of directors. Think about the questions that Boards ask their CIOs. They include but are not limited to the following:

  • How are you investing in the business to create new and unique value = Innovate to Grow & Compete
  • What are you doing to control operating costs = Optimize Your Cost for Performance
  • How are you addressing risks like cybersecurity? = Transform by Enabling Agility
  • How do you compare to your peers and competitors? = Understand and Benchmark Your True Cost and Performance.
  • What is your sourcing strategy? = Position to Manage Your Supply and Demand
  • How are you improving your people? = Drive A Performance Based Culture

The framework is comprehensive enough that it is applicable to any size company in any industry in any country at any point in the life-cycle of a business (early adopters, plateau, or decline). It demystifies the business of technology using common terms understandable by multiple layers in a company from entry level through board level.

To truly explore the value of this framework a more detailed discussion regarding the decomposition of these framework elements into a service catalog and standard costs elements is needed. And, that’s exactly where the TBM Council is headed, per a recent article that can be found here.

Consider this provocative proposal: by embracing a framework like this, and establishing a management system (e.g. service catalog, cost model, etc.) under it, you will position yourself to improve your relationship with your board of directors.

The conversation has just begun! More details, perspectives and thought leadership is coming. To join the discussion, visit the TBM Council and get in the game!

Elevating the role of the CIO – Part 1 of 2

Image representing Wired Magazine as depicted ...
Image via CrunchBase

What is Your Management System – Wired Magazine

Have you ever wondered how an organization adds new value and manages their business? How does a management team come together and exert their will on an organization so their commitment to the Board is achieved? How do they deliver increased revenue, launch new products, lower operating costs, integrate new sales channels, improve customer service, innovative solutions that create competitive advantage?

For a publicly held company, we see the financial results of these efforts via annual reports, quarterly filings, and the classic measure of stock valuation. We measure the delivery of incremental value long after it has been created within the company. So, how does the management team build the new value? There are many actions and decisions required to build a new value chain (e.g. agree on product design, service offerings, market entry strategies, etc.). The value opportunity is unveiled when the product, sales channel, or new value is deployed to the public. Often there are months, even years of work that leads up to the new creation of value. The value is created minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and ultimately, month by month.

In the area of value creation where technology is a key driver, how does a CIO and their team contribute to this value? How do they manage their business?

Wired Magazine recently published an article that explores this question in greater detail and offers a challenge to the CIO’s of companies to build a more standardized management system. The article is available here.

In summary, the role of the CIO must mature in the coming months and years to create a more consistent and transferable management system for their companies. CIO’s need to manage technology like a business. In doing so, they will elevate themselves amongst their peers and in turn create more customer, competitive, employee, and shareholder (CCES) value.

In part 2 of this article, we’ll explore how CIO’s can unlock their relationship with their board of directors and up-level their positional ability to generate CCES value.

Decide Fast, Learn Fast, Win Fast

Ready to Unleash Your Transformation? Focus on Decision Making.

How many time has this happened to you? Its Monday morning, and you just logged into your weekly staff meeting when you get an urgent call from senior management. They want you to call them immediately, join their conference call or maybe even come to their office to discuss why your company cannot move faster with your projects, change, strategy execution, technology, process improvements, etc.? At least 3 times this month? It happens everyday, and it happened again today. The pace of your change needs to be faster. It will happen again tomorrow! So, what do you do? For starters, I propose you start with your decision making.

A company can only move as fast as they make decisions. The effectiveness of decision making is like the speedometer for your project, change initiative, strategic endeavor, etc. If decisions are slow, your transformation will be slow. If decisions are fast, your company will be able to move forward faster. Decisions create actions that translate into tasks for people in the company to complete. No decisions, no actions, no tasks, no completion.

DecideFastLearnFastWinFastIn Leading Successful Change, authors Shea & Solomon propose to change an organization you need to change behavior. They elaborate further to describe 8 levers of change, one of which they describe as decision allocation. Simply put, think of this as “who decides what, and where?” There are models available to help you structure the decision making process. I personally prefer the DACI model: Driver, Approvers, Contributors, Informed because it is simple and emphasizes accountability in the role of Driver to make the decision happen.

Before we go rushing off to “just make more decisions, faster”, lets consider some drivers behind slower decision making. When companies lack action, they are indecisive. Indecision can be caused for may reasons including but not limited to: not enough information, too much information, and unclear roles and responsibilities. Said another way, people hesitate to make decisions because they fear the decision will not have the required quality demanded by the company.

This balance of speed vs quality can be challenging. Consider the classic 2×2 above to assist with guiding actions to improve your decision making. If you find yourself with fast decision making, but low quality, focus on learning faster from your low quality decisions. If you find yourself with high quality decisions but too much time to make them, focus on deciding faster by embracing more risk.

Make no mistake, if you make decisions faster you improve your company’s ability to move forward faster. Have you heard the old saying “Win Fast, Fail Fast“? While it is very applicable in this context, I prefer “Decide Fast, Learn Fast, Win Fast”. If you make decisions faster, and they truly lack the quality you desire, engage your learning capability and dial your learnings back into a new decision to ultimately win faster.

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