4 Questions about Change Intelligence (so you can apply it today)

To help illustrate how CQ is relevant to change leaders like yourself, I thought I’d share with you some of the questions I’ve been asked about how to apply the principles of the book to your team or organization:

  1. With all the leadership books out there, why was it important for you to write this book? From my first day on the job, standing in front of a room full of all-male steelworkers all decades older than me, I lived firsthand how challenging the role of a change leader can be.  It can be pretty scary to be the one up front and center  and intimidating to realize that even the best education and training doesn’t always prepare you to lead the change.  It’s been my passion for the last 25 years to equip change leaders to successfully navigate and direct change even in the most complex and challenging situations.  When you know your CQ, you know what to do next even if it’s a situation you’ve never faced before.
  2. What type of leader would benefit from reading Change Intelligence? I wrote the book for at any level charged with implementing change.  So, whether you’re on the front lines or in the C-Suite, Change Intelligence can be applied directly to your situation.   That being said, the demands and dynamics of leading change can be very different at the CEO versus project manager versus front line supervisor levels, and I offer advice to guide each based on my decades of experience coaching up, down and across organizations.
  3. What types of change is the book relevant for? What industries? The book is full of real-life case studies of transformations from mergers to new technology implementations to process improvements in industries spanning healthcare to high tech, refineries to retail, and steel to sales teams.  This is critical, because as leaders, we are constantly on point to manage multiple changes at once, and the pace is increasing, and the scope becoming more complex every day.  What matters is less the specifics of the change or industry dynamics, and more that by knowing your CQ you are equipped to lead change even when you’re facing a challenge you’ve never experienced before.
  4. What’s the book’s key message – the bottom line – and how can I apply it today? The big “ah-ha” of the book is that it is possible to lead successful and sustainable change – if it’s led effectively.  And it is possible to lead change effectively – not necessarily by starting with “overcoming resistance by others” or applying a new tool or process – but rather, by looking inside, and starting with yourself as a change leader.  What are your strengths?  What are your blind spots?  What are you natural tendencies as a change leader?  The 15-minute Change Intelligence self-assessment ($97 Value) that comes free with every book helps you answer these questions quickly, and the customized report each reader receives contains simple, practical, and applicable coaching for how to bolster your CQ right now, on the job today.  When you know your CQ, you experience an immediate increase in your confidence and competence in leading successful and sustainable change

Timely Lessons from Change Leaders Around the World

Here are some of my favorite inspirational tidbits from remarkable change leaders around the world:

“Think globally, act locally, panic internally” -(David Rock quoting another colleague) 

I love this quote and I believe it so crisply captures the change leader conundrum – so many needs, so many opportunities, so much fear! So often, we focus on easing the transition of the targets of change – but what about the emotions and confusion of the guy at the front of the room leading the troops over the hill? That’s why I created the CQ System – to give leaders a framework for understanding the uncertainty and anxiety they experience along with the change their teams and employees must absorb and integrate. With David’s quote in mind, what can you do to ground yourself so that you can act in spite of the internal stress you may be facing?


“If everything is under control, you’re not going fast enough” -(Dan Denison quoting racing great Mario Andretti)

What a perfect phrase to keep in mind when we’re coming up to yet another curve in the road and feel the wheels wobbling under us!  Control, certainty – all illusions.  Complexity, chaos – we need new mindsets and behaviors, systems and processes, to lead today.  How can we cultivate a tolerance for reasonable risk-taking, comfort with decision-making in the face of ambiguity and incomplete information?  How can we help clients (and ourselves) bake in time for intentional reflection, to ensure we are learning as we change and not simply rashly reacting?    

“We’re moving to teach people how to fish” -(Melanie Francis, who led the Change Management Centers of Excellence at Symantec) 

I work with many organizations that want to build Change Management (CM) Centers or Communities of Practice to develop a common approach and toolkit to guide the process.  It’s important that CM practitioners do not devolve into change-by-checklist template-filler-inners, but rather partners with a seat at the table throughout the transformation.  Are there opportunities on your current project or in your organization to educate key stakeholders about how to conduct a leadership alignment exercise to ensure an initiative has the right sponsorship at the onset?  A readiness assessment to gauge end user understand and ability to adopt to ensure solutions are on-target?

“What do you mean when you say ‘Change Management’?” -(Kristin Harper, formerly the Director of IT Strategic Change at McDonald’s)

As professionals, so often one of our first responsibilities is to enlighten our clients that “change management is more than communications and training”!  Moving beyond a focus on the tools and tactics to principles and benefits when working with stakeholders goes far in making a meaningful difference and elevating the field to have the impact it can and should.  That said, being asked to help create a communication plan for a change effort – even when it’s practically an afterthought and turnover is tomorrow – is still a very viable first step entry point to get the conversation started.  Is there “low hanging fruit” you could pick right now, which would both add value to a current change process as well as educate others about the value of integrating CM throughout the change lifecycle in the future?

“Experience is a great but a cruel teacher – you get the test first, and the lesson later” -(James Chisholm from ExperiencePoint)

This to me is both one of the most critical services we can provide our clients (whether we’re internal leaders or external consultants). With all of us working on multiple projects at once, at multiple stages, with multiple stakeholders – how overwhelming, but what a goldmine of insights and learning.  All lost if in our zeal to do it all we sprint from one meeting to the next, one email to the next, one crisis to the next.  Powering down to power up – facilitating after action review sessions, organizing reflection roundtables, coming to conferences – enables us to capture, communicate, and capitalize on lessons learned as well as refresh our perspectives and rejuvenate our energies.  Can you start where you are and organize even an informal gathering to begin to identify and share best practices?  What works and what doesn’t in your environment, with your people, in your workplace to move together in positive, new directions?

North Carolina, Ready to Learn Your CQ Style?


Will you be in or near Charlotte, NC on Tuesday, October 7th? I am excited to be partnering with the Synergistic Coach, Gerri Steadman when she hosts her “Learning Through Horses” workshop.

Though the workshop itself is private, there will be a free reception that is open to the public from 5:30-7:30pm. At the reception, I will be talking about the Change Intelligence System as well as sharing an exercise that will show you how to find your personal Change Quotient style.

Afterwards, there will be a Q&A session as well as a complimentary meet and greet and light refreshments. Don’t forget to bring your copy of Change Intelligence to have it signed! RSVP your intention: http://ht.ly/S04yY

To find out about the workshop please visit the Synergistic Coach website here.

The CQ System Goes French

We were recently informed that the CQ system made an appearance in one of the main economic newspapers in France. Yves Cavarec, the author of the article, wrote an analysis of the failed June merging of two French rugby clubs. Without knowing details of the case, but using the CQ system, he determined that the merge was based on a high-Head approach. He also determined that the change leader ignored both the Heart and the Hands.

The feedback from the article was very good. In addition to being talked about on all the popular social media networks, Yves Cavarec also recieved an email from the mayor of the city. Having been involved on the merge project, the mayor agreed with Yves Cavarec’s analysis and congratulated him on the article.

If you are fluent in French you can read details about the failed merging here. In addiiton you can also read the analysis that Yves Cavarec wrote here.

Change Agility: Five Tips to Adapt in Challenging Environments

Are you being asked to adapt to changes in your industry or workplace, or expected to help others adapt?  Adapting to change doesn’t have to require eons of evolution, radical reorganization or taxing turnarounds.  For change leaders, a winning step is often something well within our control: that is, to adapt (or change) ourselves first.  Here are five simple steps to get you started, to develop and role model change agility and leadership:

  1. Change Your Story – Reframe resistance.Resistance in organizations is like the immune system in the body; it protects against harmful invaders from the outside. Just like pain in the body is a symptom something is wrong, so resistance is a sign to which managers should pay attention. The goal is not to eradicate it, but to allow it to surface, so it can be explored and honored.  To lead more effectively, learn to see resistance as your ally, not your enemy.
  2. Change Your Stance – Picture a triangle. So often, we view ourselves on one angle, others at another angle, and “the problem” on the third angle. In our minds, it feels like it’s us against the other people as well as the problem. That’s exhausting. Instead, re-envision yourself and the other people working together to solve the problem. Move from being and feeling and acting against others, or doing something to others, or even in spite of others, to working with and even for them.  If you can make this simple mindset shift, how you relate to others will almost immediately become palpably partnership-oriented to them.  
  3. Change Your Seat – What you see depends on where you sit.  Change looks very different at different levels of the organizational hierarchy. Those at the top are typically isolated. Those at the bottom are most resistant. Those in the middle are squeezed. Sit in others’ seats and appreciate their pressures. Adapt your approach and messages to the very different needs and concerns of these very different audiences.
  4. Change Your Style – We all know the Golden Rule:  Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. To lead change effectively, follow the Platinum Rule:  Do unto others as THEY want to be done unto. Tell stories they can relate to. Share statistics relevant to them. Demonstrate what’s in it for all of us to work together in new ways.  
  5. Change Your Strategy – So often, what looks like resistance is really that people don’t get it, don’t want it, or they are unable to do it.  Engage the brain by explaining the “why” and “what” of the change — help the “head” understand your vision, mission, and goals. Paint a clear picture of the target and the end game. Inspire the “heart” to care about the change objectives by engaging with others, actively listening, dealing with fears and insecurities, and building trust.  Help the “hands” apply the change — provide tactics, training and tools, and eliminate barriers standing in people’s way.

The good news: None of these tips require leaders to change who they are.  They are all about shifts in mindsets and behaviors.  It’s about the flexibility to adapt our leadership approach to get us all where we need to go.

It’s amazing how when we change, others change.  It’s been said before — because it’s true: Be the change you wish to see in the world. That’s leadership.

Top 10 Trends in Project Management (for ALL Change Leaders!)

ESI International, the project management training company, published its views on the top 10 trends in project management for 2015. ESI Managing Director, EMEA, Alan Garvey comments “Organisations will increasingly begin to view strategic execution as a core discipline….The impact on project management is significant. Project managers, who used to just be accountable for delivering project outcomes, will now also be responsible for how those deliverables impact the business. This shift will require a fine tuning of their skillsets. At the same time the PM’s role as a critical enabler of business strategy will emerge.”

ESI’s top trends include:

  1.  Lofty expectations: PMs need to become adept at managing gaps between [project] constraints and the business expectations.
  2. Out-of-whack: Talent management within the PM community comes back into focus.
  3. Fuel for the hybrid: As the pace of change continues to accelerate, hybrid project methods will become the norm.
  4. Too little, too late: The ability to find and hire top PM talent is dwindling.
  5. Bottoms up: Organisations must build bottom-up processes to link project outcomes to organisational strategy.
  6. Ignore them at your own peril: Project managers will continue to be ignored and not get the coaching and mentoring they are screaming for.
  7. Run!: Project managers continue to sacrifice project transparency as they flee from conflict and avoid difficult conversations
  8. Change is coming: The disciplines of change management and project management continue to merge as PMs become responsible for delivering project and business outcomes.
  9. Knocking at the door: Project management and business strategy better align to the benefit of the organisation.
  10. Culture shock: Organisational culture becomes a bigger consideration in risk management practices.

Building Change Intelligence enables PMs (and all Change Leaders) to meet these challenges with skill and savvy – CQ equips Change Leaders to:

Engage the “Heart” – connect people with each other, the project, and its purpose; foster communication and feedback loops up, down, across, inside, and outside the organization; promote open and transparent dialogue about cultural considerations and project expectations;

Inspire the “Head” – align project objectives with strategic business goals; facilitate crucial  conversations about critical success and failure factors such as talent development, resource allocation and risk management; aim key stakeholders toward a new vision for aspirational outcomes;

Help the “Hands” – drive execution via efficiently managing plans and processes; ensure people have the right training and tools to get the job done; promote mutual accountability for sustainable success.

A final note from ESI’s Garvey:

“Savvy PMs will identify their opportunities for career growth and will position themselves to improve their competencies in some critical areas. Bettering interpersonal skills, learning the discipline of strategic execution, and becoming well versed in change management practices should be on every PM’s list.”