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Change Management: Stability is Just an Illusion


change-stabilityThere is an immense amount of information about change and change management in books, case studies, newsletters, magazine articles, and blogs, etc. There is not much new to be said about the topic, but in this blog I would like to share some of my thoughts and reflections. When I think about change, I think about life and the constant unfolding of our existence. Nothing stays steady, everything morphs.

As humans, we spend our lives structuring our time, giving meaning to our experiences, staying viable by fighting entropy, and maintaining our relevance. In some ways, organizations experience the same process. They are organisms or systems that exist for a reason and that gives them meaning. An organization has processes, procedures, plans, programs, timelines, and meetings that provide structure to the life of the organization. There is a core “input-throughput-output” process that makes an organization viable as well as processes that address problems that may be threatening to the organization. Organizations also have processes that keep them relevant in the eyes of their customers and society at large. So, what is it about the concept of CHANGE that, in most cases, provokes a strong reaction, often with negative implications, in most people within organizations?
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Technology and Change Management


change management, technology changeFor the last 20 years or so, I have watched how organizations have turned to “hi-tech” in order to address a variety of problems or challenges in a rapidly changing, highly turbulent, and competitive environment where they have to operate and succeed. Globalization has opened the doors to new competitors as well as to new markets and lower labor costs. Companies around the world have been engaged in what I call the “Golondrina Factor” which literally means the “Swallow Effect.” They move their plants from country to country in search of the lowest labor cost, most favorable taxation, appropriate infrastructure, and adequate accessibility to ports or airports, but when a company moves, they leave behind high unemployment which can often cause violence and other social problems as a consequence—which is what happened in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Ciudad Juarez, and many other cities around the world.

The rapid pace of change is also triggered by the incredibly fast change in technology. Companies rely heavily on technology in order to increase efficiency, reduce labor costs, improve product quality, allow 24/7 communication with their plants, divisions, or stores around the world, and create “virtual” teams to address problems or tackle opportunities. I have noticed with several clients in the retail and hospitality industries that applied technology has become the key strategy that they rely on in order to compete and succeed in the marketplace. Retail stores and restaurant chains use technology to increase sales and customer loyalty as well as to manage labor costs and deployment, etc. As technology evolves, the life cycle of technology solutions becomes shorter and can make current solutions obsolete even before they are fully implemented which, consequently, creates a constant state of disruption and organizational anxiety.
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“You Can’t Always Get You Want” The Principle of Symmetrical Reciprocity


symmetrical reciprocity, executive coaching orange countyWhile in graduate school in the early seventies, and when the human potential movement was at its peak, I decided to participate in an intensive, week-long Gestalt therapy program at the Esalen Institute. At that time, Esalen was the most avant-garde place for living and breathing the essence of the movement. The facilitator was Dr. Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy. During one of the sessions, while he was doing a one-on-one intervention with one of the participants, Dr. Perls raised the question, “What’s in it for you?” The session continued and then Dr. Perls came up with another phrase “You mean to tell me that you do it for nothing…nobody does anything for nothing…we all want something.” These phrases have stayed with me for decades and have influenced my approach in my consulting and coaching practice.

I have simplified these phrases into a perspective and thesis that any sustainable relationship is based upon what I call “symmetrical reciprocity.” Whenever we engage in a relationship, we want something out of it; there are no “freebies,” and when we start feeling resentful, taken for granted, used, or that we are treated unfairly, it is symptomatic that our needs, expectations, or fantasies are not being met to the extent that we believe they should be based upon what we feel when we give. Everything we do with others is an exchange, and when the exchange is perceived as “uneven” by either party, the unevenness will begin to undermine the relationship. Read More

Daily Encounters With Imperceptible Teamwork Excellence

Team Building

executive teamwork, executive consulting orange county, execuquestThis week, on a return trip from Mexico, I was sitting in the Centurion Club Lounge at the Benito Juarez Airport and I had the opportunity to witness what I would call, “my daily encounter with imperceptible teamwork excellence.”

As I was waiting in the lounge before my departure, I ordered a bottle of soda water which, within about a minute, was brought to me with a separate glass of ice. The waiter proceeded to pour the soda water into the glass, and then asked me if I would care for some snacks. I responded with a nod of acknowledgment and, immediately, another waiter showed up with a plate of spicy peanuts (my favorite snack). I took a sip of the soda water and went back to focusing my attention on my emails. Without noticing, I turned my tablet in such a way that I knocked over and broke the glass, and water quickly started to spread across the table. In a matter of seconds, and before I was even able to react, there was a waiter with a cloth scooping up the water and pieces of broken glass into a tray which was being held at the edge of the table by another waiter. And all the while this was taking place, a third waiter had served me with a new bottle of soda water and a fresh glass of ice. Read More

What Makes A Team? A Team Versus A Group of Individual Contributors

Team Building

In the previous blog, “Achieving Financial Goals and Success Through Teamwork,” my colleague, Stephen Wagner, described what is a common model in most, if not all, retail operations, and it is the most prevalent operation model in the fast food and casual dining business.Achieving Financial Goals and Success Through Teamwork,” my colleague, Stephen Wagner, described what is a common model in most, if not all, retail operations, and it is the most prevalent operation model in the fast food and casual dining business.

Most retail operators divide their market into regions. Each region is then divided into zones which are composed of a number of retail units, i.e. restaurants, stores, etc. There is often a COO (Chief Operating Officer) who is held accountable by the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) for the overall results of the retail operation. The COO’s metrics are, in many cases, reviewed weekly, if not daily. Reporting to a COO, there may be many Senior VPs of Operations who are held accountable for the retail performance results of a large area of the country—for example, the West, Midwest, Northeast, and South regions in the United States. These Senior VPs may have several Regional VPs who themselves have Zone Managers and each Zone Manager is held accountable for the results achieved by the stores or units within their zone. Read More