WHY Leaders FAIL


Leadership and leadership failure are frequently covered topics in today’s business  Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 5.43.54 pmpress. In Why CEOs Fail , Dotlich and Cairo state leadership failure is generally tied to individual behavior. CEO’s are generally bright, savvy individuals with experience and a good record of success. The authors believe CEO failures occur, not because of insufficient intelligence, but because leaders often act in illogical, irrational ways, usually unconsciously. This poses a vexing question. “Why do such obviously talented leaders also make poor decisions, alienate key people, miss opportunities, and overlook obvious trends and developments?” Do CEO’s have a weak moment, a loss of judgment, or is it something more fundamental?

Dotlich and Cairo identify eleven “derailers”, deeply ingrained personality traits which can negatively affect leadership style and actions. These hardwired characteristics, often begin as strengths, but when overused can become detriments. The authors believe these “derailers” are the fundamental source of leadership failure.

Why CEOs Fail outlines the eleven “derailers” which can cause CEO’s and other leaders to fail. These behaviors are listed and defined as follows: Arrogance was defined by the authors as “thinking everyone else is wrong”. Leaders with this trait can become so convinced of their opinions, they ignore and irritate others resulting in decreased communication and teamwork.

Dotlich and Cairo define the next “derailer, Melodrama, as the use of exaggerated emotion or actions to hold the attention of an audience. Leaders inclined towards melodrama in the extreme can experience separation from others, decreasing dialogue with coworkers, and difficulty in making decisions.

Volatility, defined as “uncontrolled mood swings” often becomes an impairing behavior when leaders “become a slave of their volatile nature not masters of it.”

The authors believe the next “derailer”, Excessive Caution, causes leaders to fear making the wrong decision. Instead of making any decision, a cautious leader may procrastinate, conduct more research, and actually make the problem bigger.

Habitual Distrust is defined by Dotlich and Cairo as “a continual focus on the negatives.” Distrustful leaders are often skeptical regarding other’s motives and can create work environments where suspicion becomes a virus. Eventually, workers fail to accept feedback and nobody relies on anybody.

The authors define Aloofness as “disengaged and disconnected actions.” Aloof leaders often possess management styles which cut them off from people, ideas, and information. Aloof behavior tends to accelerate during periods of stress.

Mischievous leaders think “rules are made to be broken.” This derailer appears when a manager challenges tradition by acting impulsively without taking into account the impact of their actions.

The next derailer, Eccentricity, is described as “being different to be different.” Eccentric leaders can be brilliant idea generators who create unique environments. However, the authors note there can be a thin line between unique innovation, and confusion and irritation.

Passive Resistance is a behavior where a leader “says one thing and does another.” This derailer can result in confused and angry direct reports and alliances and teams which fall apart.

Perfectionist leaders are known for “getting the little details right and the big things wrong.” These leaders may have difficulty with delegating and often place stress upon themselves when projects are not being done efficiently.

The last derailer, Eagerness to Please, is defined by the authors as “always wanting to win the popularity contest.” CEOs and other leaders with this trait avoid conflict even at the expense of productivity.


Manage Gen X & Y



Generation X or Gen X is the age cohort between the Boomers and the Millennials. Experts estimate that there are approximately 51 million Generation Xers in the United States. Just as Generation X was entering the teen years, the personal computer arrived on the scene. As a result, this generation entered the workforce with a good understanding of computer applications and how computers are supposed to work.

From a work perspective, Generation X members are not driven by team purpose or idealistic notions. This group has been classified as self-interested and lacking any sentimental attachment to work. Employers can benefit from acquiring a greater understanding some of Generation X’s personality traits:

  • Entrepreneurial. Given their independent nature, many Gen Xers are self-employed. This group values resourcefulness. As a result, they appreciate technologies that enable them to make the most of limited time.
  • Work/life balance. Because Generation Xers seek a stable work/life balance, telecommuting options must offer more than simple voicemail and email connectivity. This group demands greater remote access to workplace resources. This may translate into virtual private network access to enterprise data systems, real-time communication tools, and technologies that duplicate the workplace desktop. However, telecommuting is often frowned upon by Boomer managers. This is because many Baby Boomers value personal contact and prefer to manage through direct supervision. As more Generation X employees advance to the executive ranks, more organizations are likely to accommodate telework models.
  • Working smarter and harder. One of the reasons that work/life balance is so important to Generation X is because they are working longer hours than their parents and for less money. As a result, both time and productivity are very important to Generation X employees. Technologies that save time are attractive to this demographic group, but tools that require excessive interaction in the name of user friendliness annoy Generation Xers.

When Generation Xers move into leadership roles in the workplace, their understanding of technology is often a major asset for organizations. However, their self-interested nature can be a drawback. Generation Xers must guard against projecting their own priorities into the workplace through their technology choices. They must be mindful of the diversity in the workplace and take time to bridge the digital age gap. This can be done through dialogue and cultural adaptation.


In today’s competitive employment market, older workers’ expertise and mature point of view are attractive to organizations. To adapt to the connected workplace, older employees must accept a set of values and practices associated with technology. Training programs are one way to effectively facilitate this transition. Training is a valuable approach because older workers are often reluctant to ask younger co-workers for help. This reluctance may be related to issues of control, authority, or social dynamics. It is important to recognize, however, that standard training programs often create barriers to full participation. Sometimes training courses ignore cultural issues that are tied to generational values, or they may convey information in ways that reinforce older workers’ perceptions about technology and complexity.

Salkowitz uses Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) in New York City to illustrate how technology training can be structured to aid older workers. OATS is a non-profit organization that seeks to engage, train, and support older adults in using technology. The organization conducts classes at community centers and retirement communities. One of the major components of the OATS program is workforce development training.

OATS discovered that training is most successful if it leverages older learners’ strengths but also addresses their weaknesses related to technology. The organization’s major findings include the following:

  1. Do not overlook the basics. Standard training courses often assume a certain amount of familiarity with basic computer skills. This is a major objection expressed by older students. As a result, OATS has developed a curriculum that begins with the basics and covers information in a step by step manner. Repetition of concepts is also widely used. In general, training courses for older learners should not assume prior technological knowledge. In addition, instructors should not move on to new topics until students have demonstrated that they considerably understand the fundamentals.
  2. Incorporate content that is relevant to older students. Too often, computer courses use examples based on popular culture. These do not resonate with older learners. OATS deliberately develops content and exercises that would be relevant to students.
  3. Pay attention to ergonomic and economic factors. Many older students have physical limitations which should be accommodated in the classroom. In addition, students may not have fast computers or Internet connections at home. OATS classes avoid economic biases and excessive technology requirements.
  4. Present information slowly and in depth. One of the strengths of older students is their ability to process and retain large volumes of technical information. For this to occur, however, the information must be presented clearly and in a linear fashion. Long-term retention is possible when information is conveyed slowly and reinforced repeatedly.
  5. Provide documentation. An older learner processes information in a linear manner, yet the Internet is a nonlinear medium. To address this disconnect, it is important to provide step-by-step instructions and written documentation for students.
  6. Address the frustration threshold. OATS defines the frustration threshold as the negative reaction older students possess toward technology that appears to be overly complex. As technology becomes more advanced and feature-rich, the frustration threshold threatens to become a larger barrier. One approach is to give older users a realistic sense of what to expect, including how often systems may break. Another option is to pair older learners with a younger partner who can help them become more comfortable.

When older students have a safe place to learn where they do not feel exposed to business or professional risk, they are very capable of understanding new technologies. OATS’ experience shows that overcoming initial discomfort leads to rapid learning, and starting off slowly with the basics will prove beneficial to overall learning.


Although the Millennials may not impact companies for another 10 to 15 years, it is important for employers to recognize that this generation will absolutely change the face of the workplace. Salkowitz highlights Microsoft’s Information Worker Board of the Future. This is an initiative that was designed to identify Millennials’ capabilities, desires, and expectations when they join the workforce. The resulting vision of the future workplace has been used by Microsoft in customer discussions and as the basis for product development, employee recruitment, and human resource planning.

The Information Worker Board of the Future was established in 2004. Members forecasted events they expected to occur over the next ten years. In a scenario planning exercise, the group articulated uncertainties related to the future of work and driving forces. The goal of the scenario planning was to develop different strategies to address as many of the anticipated scenarios as possible. Microsoft expects that this work will minimize the chance of being blindsided by a disruptive change.

The first step in scenario planning is to identify which aspects of the global environment are uncertain and which uncertainties are most significant. The Board of the Future 2004 identified 85 uncertainties, and then identified which ones were most uncertain relative to the future of information work. The group tested each uncertainty to determine which led to the most challenging future scenarios.

The top three priorities identified by the Millennials in this group were education, the digital divide, and basic information work literacy. This was not surprising as these priorities reflect Millennials’ core generational values. They embrace the linkage between knowledge and success. In addition, they are committed to social justice, as well as the need for collaboration and information access as precursors to other fields of activity.

Since the Board of the Future 2004’s findings proved so valuable, Microsoft recruited a second group of young people in 2005. This group focused on two questions: (1) the attitudes of Millennials toward work and the underlying drivers for those attitudes, and (2) how education can prepare students more effectively for the workplace.

The Board of the Future 2005 created three outputs. They interpreted survey data from the prior Board of the Future group. In addition, they engaged in scenario planning and created characters to complement the narratives generated by Microsoft’s internal teams. Last, they created a forecast of the workplace in 2015 based on their interpretation of the survey data and the scenarios.

The group generated recommendations from the perspective of individuals, society, and technology providers. They emphasized that individuals will value work/life balance and will be attracted to companies where technology is used to integrate work with life. In addition, government and non-governmental organizations should strive to provide ubiquitous connectivity. This will help to reduce inequality between economic and demographic groups. From an education perspective, the Board viewed knowledge skills as the cost of entry to the new global economy. As a result, they believed that public and private schools should distribute those skills as widely as possible. The group recommended student-centered curriculum, problem based learning, teaching over the web, and content sharing among teachers.

The Board of the Future 2005 concluded that the information workplace in 2015 will have the following characteristics:

  1. The ability to work anyplace and anytime will be seamless and easy.
  2. The technology user experience will be integrated, adaptive, and seamless.
  3. Working with abstract and complex data will become easier due to new visualization techniques and automatic translation.
  4. Home-based technology will converge and incorporate all forms of entertainment.
  5. Learning will be available continuously and on-demand. Learning will be driven by the individual.

Microsoft benefitted from the Board of the Future in multiple ways. It provided new perspectives to the internal strategic planning process which validated some conclusions and caused others to be reassessed. In addition, the Board’s scenario planning work was folded into the scenarios that are used by Microsoft’s vision and leadership team. These scenarios are used in future vision whitepapers, for company planning purposes, and in strategic level executive briefing sessions held with customers. From a publicity perspective, the Board of the Future stimulated positive media coverage for Microsoft and positioned the company as a forward-thinking leader.


Diverse generations in the workplace have different values and do things differently from one another. The digital age gap is defined as a conflict between people and technology. It is based on people’s expectations, experiences, priorities, and the ways they understand work and the broader world. Successfully managing across this gap requires companies to harmonize the strengths of different generations in the workforce and to use technology to unite the organization. Salkowitz suggests that to accomplish this, organizations should ask five questions:

  1. Is the company clearly explaining the benefits of technology?
  2. Is the company providing a business context for its technology policies?
  3. Is technology accessible to employees’ different work styles?
  4. Does the organizational culture support the broader technology strategy?
  5. Is the organization building bridges instead of walls?

Too often, organizations assume that if they make a technology tool available and explain the features, employees will use it. This type of assumption is often made by Generation X managers, since they adopt new technologies in this way. To avoid these problems, it can be helpful to provide tip sheets, step-by-step instructions, and style guides to older workers. Technology strategists should not assume that end user silence means that all is well. Organizations should proactively follow up with users and create non-threatening ways for less confident users to express concerns. With younger workers, it can be valuable to create a formal channel so they can contribute ideas about technology and practices. Organizations that engage with Millennials during planning are less likely to experience generational myopia. This type of activity also conveys a positive message about the company to the next generation of employees. Establishing mentoring relationships which enable younger employees to teach older ones about technology can also be productive. For these relationships to be successful, mentors must understand the importance for privacy and confidentiality. In the case of senior executives, it may be preferable to use an external mentor for privacy reasons.

As new technologies are implemented, organizations should budget for the cost of training, as well as licensing, integration, deployment, and technical support. It is essential that training address generational factors and be delivered in formats that are compatible with different users’ learning styles. Salkowitz proposes several design principles that make the introduction of new technologies less disruptive for workers. The first is to use customization to reduce complexity. For example, it may be possible to disable complex features or to implement templates that make new tools look more like their real-world counterparts. Second, companies could consider using alternative input methods for users without extensive computer knowledge. Tablet computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs) convert handwriting to digital form with increasing precision. Third, it is beneficial to circulate knowledge tools throughout the organization. Companies will only enjoy the full benefits of collaboration and knowledge sharing when they are used across the entire organization.

It is also important to engage employees in a dialogue about technology policies and how they relate to the business. Some topics to include in this conversation include:

  • A description of what content can be shared, and with whom.
  • Information retention and privacy practices. These should be written in simple language, rather than complex legal text.
  • The appropriate tone and language to use when communicating with different stakeholders, such as customers.
  • Which applications can (and cannot) be installed on work computers and why.
  • Challenges that might arise when implementing popular capabilities and work arounds, if they exist.
  • Clear policies for resolving technology problems.

Company culture is another factor that cannot be overlooked when it comes to the adoption of technology. Technological changes that conflict with the prevailing culture are much more likely to be rejected. It is important to note that organizational culture is closely linked with the generational values of the company’s leadership, as well as its workforce.

Technologies that are especially likely to run into cultural problems include collaborative decision making tools, communities of practice, and knowledge management tools. Collaborative decision making through social networking tools can be threatening because it takes power away from senior employees. When implementing distributed decision making tools, organizations must determine how they will address the loss of power experienced by managers who feel overshadowed by the collaborative community. Communities of practice rely on trust to function. While the benefits of sharing information may be evident, participants may be reluctant to do so without a trusting relationship with other collaborators. To benefit from communities of practice, organizations must first address trust and technology issues. Knowledge management tools are essential for preserving information held by retiring workers. Although Web 2.0 applications provide easy and flexible ways to capture knowledge, people may not be motivated to use them. Many professional services organizations are now creating specific positions to support knowledge creation, learning, and retention.

When leadership teams respect the needs of all workers, it is possible to combine the technological knowledge of young employees with the knowledge of more mature employees. This enables firms to be more competitive, efficient, and responsive to external changes.

Inspirational Leadership


Inspirational Leadership: Leading with Sense

Leaders are people just like you who engage in acts that create value and sense for others.

In this case, sense has many meanings: a sense of purpose and meaning, an sense for good decision making and leading teams, a sense of direction and vision, and a sensible approach to challenges.

Leading with Sense helps you grow your relational leadership skills, including:

  • your self-awareness
  • your self-confidence
  • your trust in others
  • your capacity to engage people toward shared goals
  • your capacity to overcone crises, (i.e. your resilience)
  • and your sense of responsibility.

You can attend Prism trainings session, were you will practice acts of leadership and improve step by step in your personal, interpersonal, group and societal endeavors with “Prism Philosophy”more deeply with yourself and others.

Whether you are an entrepreneur scaling up your company, a parent looking for support, an engineer promoted to a managerial position, this Specialization will give you the tools and skills to be a better teammate, leader, and friend.




While most people become leaders through trial and error, the basic framework for leadership can be learned by looking at its five levels. Success at each level provides a foundation for advancement to the next.

1. Position. This is the entry level, where the only influence wielded by the leader comes with the position and job title within the organization. Reaching this level is based on appointment, not on ability or effort. Instead of team members, positional leaders have subordinates who will follow them only to the extent they are required to do so.

2. Permission. Reaching this level is based on relationships. A Level 2 leader has begun to develop influence with people by showing that they are valued and creating an environment of trust.

3. Production. Reaching this level is based on producing results for the organization. The influence and credibility of a Level 3 leader grows as goals are achieved and momentum is created.

4. People Development. Level 4 leaders use their resources to empower their people and create new leaders. Their relationships are deep, transformational, and often lifelong.

5. Pinnacle. Only the most talented leaders reach this level as it is based on their ability to develop Level 4 leaders and Level 5 organizations. Their skills and positive reputations are so strong that they create legacies and often are able to extend their influence beyond their industries.

Leaders advance by earning influence and credibility at each level. It is important for leaders to remember that:

*To attain higher levels, they must build on the relationships they have established and the productivity they have achieved at lower levels.

*Different people must be led different ways (i.e., based on their perceptions and stages of development).

*As they reach higher levels, they will find it increasingly easier to lead. This is because people respond to their growing influence.

*The higher they advance, the harder it will become to advance even further.

*While leadership is more secure at higher levels, it can be quickly and irreparably damaged. The importance of building and maintaining good relationships never diminishes.

*The higher their levels, the more rewarding and far-reaching their accomplishments are likely to be.

*To move up, they must intentionally learn and grow. This often requires taking risks.

*They may limit themselves and their people if they do not actively strive for advancement. Higher-level leadership is a function not only of capacity, but also of attitude and choice.

*Changing positions or organizations may mean starting again at a lower level; however, previous experience makes it easier to advance a second time.

*No one advances in leadership without accepting the challenge of helping, motivating, and developing others.

The Stages of Team Development


The Stages of Team Development


Making record in cohesive activity by Team Panasonic made PRISM team proud

Purpose: Use this job aid as a guide to the five stages of team development and the strategies you can use to help your team through each stage.

The stages of team development

Stage            Characteristics Leader’s strategies
Forming The team starts to focus on the goals, roles, and its purpose.

Team members are enthusiastic and motivated by a desire to be accepted.

Team members are polite to each other and wait for the leader to get the meeting started.

·         Find people in your organization who have the necessary skills and the time to be part of your team.

·         Ensure that members feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the group.

·         Clarify the team’s goals and outline the planned schedule.

·         Build enthusiasm by talking about why the group will be successful and the goals you know team members will accomplish.

Storming This stage is characterized by conflict as team members struggle over roles and responsibilities.

This stage can be highly creative as team members generate and challenge ideas and discuss important issues.

Team members must learn to voice disagreement openly and constructively while staying focused on common objectives and areas of agreement.

·         Be open to every team member’s input.

·         Ask team members to share their ideas.

·         Ensure that everyone stays on track with the team’s goal.

·         Help the team define a shared vision.

Norming This stage is characterized by team members moving toward unity.

Team members make decisions by consensus and negotiate differences.

Team members have learned to trust each other and their leader.

There’s a sense of agreement and cohesiveness.

Team members feel comfortable expressing their ideas, as well as their disagreements.

The team is finally beginning to feel like a real team – members support each other and work together toward goals.

·         Help team members feel confident that they’re doing a good job.

·         Show members that they’ll meet their objectives to instill confidence.

·         Create schedules for the project and for meetings that respect every team member’s availability.

·         Try to ensure that all members can attend every meeting.

Performing This is the most highly productive stage of team development and is characterized by unity.

The team has common goals.

Team members feel confident making decisions and sharing responsibility for processes.

Team members are more autonomous with a lower dependence on the team leader.

Team members know what they’re doing and can get things done with minimal supervision.

Team members have learned what works for dealing with disagreements.

·         Act as a facilitator.

·         Make sure everyone is involved.

·         Deal with difficult team members.

·         Keep tabs on the team’s progress.

Adjourning The end of the project, and often, the dissolution of the team.

During this stage, team members are dealing with their impending separation from the team.

Team members may feel insecure and reluctant to let go, or they may lose interest before they complete all their tasks.

·         Have a final meeting with the team where you discuss the things that worked well and the things that didn’t.

·         Get team members to talk about how they felt about the group and what it accomplished.

·         Give the group feedback about its performance as a team.

·         Give each team member individual performance feedback.



Conflict always has an emotional component, although both sides do not have to be angry. Conflict can be healthy if it propels an organization to greater levels of achievement, but it is unhealthy if it involves strong emotions and is disruptive to workplace productivity and morale.PrismPhil logo

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument categorizes five ways in which people handle conflict:

  1. They compete, looking for and using the power available to them.
  2. They are accommodative, giving ground on what they need and want.
  3. They avoid the conflict, simply refusing to address it.
  4. They compromise, exchanging concessions with the other party.
  5. They collaborate, working to find a mutually beneficial solution that meets both parties’ needs.

The VOMP model, developed by Crosby Kerr Minno Consulting, can be useful in resolving conflict situations. VOMP stands for:

  1. Ventilation: Each side airs its position on the conflict.
  2. Ownership: Each side takes ownership of what they actually said or did.
  3. Moccasins: Each side walks in the others’ shoes, expressing an understanding of, and empathy for, their point of view.
  4. Plan:The two sides strive to find a solution.



High performance communication is necessary to ensure that when people speak, their voices will rise above the ceaseless chatter and infinite information people will be bombarded with each day. There are three requirements necessary to achieve high performance communication:

1. A clear strategy: Speakers must develop a clear strategy for their presentations based on the desired outcome of the speeches.

2. Practice: As with any skill, mastering high performance communication requires practice. Meyers and Nix provide a self-assessment to help identify which areas speakers need to improve upon as well as a tool to help interpret their scores on the self-assessment.

3. Feedback: When communicating, the only thing that counts is the listener’s experience. Therefore it is essential that speakers elicit feedback from others. Understanding what the audience is experiencing is the only way speakers can fine-tune and improve their messages. The authors provide a “Communication Feedback” form to help speakers easily capture the impressions from their audiences.

The three parts of high performance communication that need to be mastered are: content, delivery, and state.



Be yourself

People spend too much time and effort trying to behave how others want them to and not enough time being true to themselves. However, authenticity is what is required to be successful in life.


Prism Created by Anubha Maurya Walia

Tips for being authentic include:

*Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, and building on the strengths.

*Avoiding comparisons to others and instead focusing on applying strengths to achieving goals.

*Being positive and treating others with respect.

*Admitting to mistakes and taking responsibility for actions.

*Avoiding self-criticism and dwelling on the negative. It is better to learn from mistakes and move on.

*Not focusing on being liked but focusing on earning respect.

*Relaxing and realizing in hindsight things are not usually as big a deal as they seem.

*Not worrying about pleasing everyone–it is impossible.

*Following one’s instincts and inner voice.

Dreams Do Not Happen Overnight

It can take time to realize one’s dreams, and the path begins with goal setting. To get started, individuals should:

*Write goals down to ingrain them.

*Choose achievable, not unrealistic, goals.

*Visualize success because it is motivating.

*Seek advice and support from others.

*Set realistic time frames for achievements.

*Take smaller steps toward one big goal.

*Stick to it.

*Be flexible.

*Take time to celebrate successes.

Mistakes Make You Smarter and Stronger

Mistakes are learning experiences that strengthen character and build resilience. The fear of making mistakes stifles growth. Benefiting from mistakes comes through:

*Taking responsibility for them.

*Understanding what went wrong.

*Viewing mistakes as learning opportunities rather than failures.

*Avoiding unnecessary mistakes, like those that come from a lack of understanding.

*Looking for solutions first instead of seeking to blame.

*Being rational instead of emotional.

*Maintaining a sense of perspective–what seems monumental could be minor.

*Avoiding judgment.

*Letting it go. Just learn and move on.

*Reflecting on missteps.

Insights Come from Everywhere

People never know for certain who or what situation might provide them with valuable, life-changing insights. To stay open to insights, individuals must:

*Realize insights are everywhere, explore the world, and start conversations.

*Practice inventive thought.

*Write ideas down.

*Change their environments to spark creativity.

*Practice personal brainstorming.

*Always question why.

*Overcome limiting habits.

Leading Change



Communication will take place between all members of an organization in the process of change, and the change leader’s most important challenge is to ensure that it is positive, inclusive, and empowering. Simply sending out a directive with no attempt to seek feedback or suggestions is the wrong way to begin. The successful change leader gets out and talks to people well before the change is announced, creating a dialogue with stakeholders who help shape and refine the plan and identify potential problems. This practice brings everyone on board from the start. Leaders who are willing to really listen during these conversations and to consider other people’s perspectives will gain their trust.


A major element of dialogue and communication is effective listening, which means more than just being quiet when the other person is speaking. Good leaders realize that they cannot possibly know everything, even about their own organizations. They are not threatened by honest feedback because it adds detail to the total picture. Leaders must also adjust and correct their listening skills if they can only interpret what they hear from their own perspectives. Developing a deep interest in other people and an openness to differing perspectives leads to authentic listening, which is an effective communication tool.


While hearing what others have to say is important, an effective change leader must also ensure that everyone within the organization knows what the leader is thinking at all times. The leader acts as the focal point for communication, and realizes that others look to him or her for a continuing message that will help them make sense of the process. Being open, honest, and clear about what is occurring instills confidence in employees and encourages cooperation throughout the organization.


While busy people are well-regarded in most organizations, the change leader should not get so bogged down with work that there is no time to think about how things are going, to identify what is working well, and to contemplate adjustments that may be needed in areas that are not working. Stepping back to look at the overall situation is important for the leader, but is also helpful for teams and other groups and individuals. It should be encouraged in the form of retreats, end-of-week recaps, or end-of-day sessions.


People within an organization are likely to have differing perspectives on elements of the change process. These perspectives may change and evolve during the process. When people are given the opportunity to express their perspectives and willingly listen to the perspectives of others, they become less resistant to change. Sharing their visions leads to the formation of a common purpose, an identity, which is further defined by engaging the perspectives of competitors, customers, and even former employees. The change leader must keep all this dialogue going, incorporating each individual identity into the change process.


Fifty-six percent of those interviewed by Lawrence said support from the top management of the organization is essential to successful change. That said, the traditional top-down change model proved inadequate in most situations because it did not engage enough people in the decision-making process.

In addition to the executive team being deeply committed to the change, the support of middle management is vital. The people on the front line are used to working with and most apt to trust middle management, who are often the crucial facilitators of change. Change leaders must also take into account the other powers-that-be, such as resource suppliers and experts in the field, and acknowledge the networks of power within the organization.


All leaders are not alike, and most change and grow along with their activities and challenges. Authentic leaders who know themselves and understand what makes them tick, and whose actions reflect their beliefs, are excellent change leaders. They are not afraid to listen to others, and therefore they find it easier to see the similarities between people and bring them to consensus.


People are sometimes labeled “resistant to change” when, in fact, they may simply be ambivalent. There may be several reasons people in an organization are not embracing change: They may be out of the loop and feel isolated; they may not understand the change and therefore withhold their allegiance to it; or they may believe that the change will mean they will lose their jobs. Open dialogue is the best way to help these employees gain a better understanding of the situation. Involving them in the change gives them the opportunity to see their parts in the vision.


Systemic thinking, as opposed to systematic (top-down and linear) thinking, looks at the big picture and takes into account the complexity of the world as well as the need for flexibility during the change process. Lawrence equates systemic thinking with being able to view the ECM from various balconies, each providing a different view of the process. A problem manifesting in one area of the project, for example, is often affected by a totally different challenge in another aspect of the work, and that issue might need to be addressed in yet another platform in order to solve the problem. The effective change leader continually engages with people in all areas of the project and remains part of the meaning-making process, all while paying attention to who is saying what to whom and what organizational dynamics come into play.


The ECM proved effective for a medium-sized manufacturer/distributor/retailer in Australia, with retail operations there as well as in China, Europe, and the United States. The problem was rapid growth combined with a paucity of new executive candidates who would be ready to step into larger roles. The organizational development manager discovered that employees did not think there was sufficient room for individual growth within the company, and turnover was high. He initiated a “coaching culture” by training the management team, creating a continuing dialogue with coaches, and using workshops and reflective sessions to evaluate how the system was working out. He even involved the CEO. Though the development manager eventually left the organization, as did other leaders and coaches along the way, the program was successful because a coaching environment had prepared employees to deal positively with these changes.


Leaders are often tasked to maintain control and discipline while leading unpredictable change. Smart change leaders realize they cannot do all of this work by themselves. It helps if they can occasionally stand outside the moment to take an objective look at progress, and then report their observations to other stakeholders, who need to understand how the change is proceeding and what might need to be addressed down the road. At each juncture, they must listen to others’ viewpoints as detours or intersections arise. It is impossible to prepare a leader for every situation that could crop up. In place of tools and models, change leaders must rely on practical judgement, which is developed by authentic listening, reflecting on what is heard, and then becoming a curious leader bent on learning and passing on what has been learned to others.


Helping people along the road toward change requires a holistic approach. In addition to other leadership skills, change agents must adopt a social presence and the ability to mix and manage dialogue between groups. Lawrence believes that workshop learning and team focus groups are integral to the future of change. They should not, however, be packed with content, but rather focused around dialogue and reflection. Establishing a clear purpose helps small groups to learn together, and continual evaluation of progress fosters systemic thinking within the organization.


Today’s systemic coaches do not just talk; they listen. They are effective because they can verbalize company strategy and offer guidance to individuals or groups without being didactic about their expectations. By listening, reflecting, and suggesting, they help people make sense of organizational needs in the context of the individuals’ own needs. Coaching helps people discover how to use their skills and abilities to maximize their value for the company, the project, and themselves. Seventy-five percent of those interviewed five years after receiving successful coaching said they had benefited by gaining increased self-awareness, reflection, and confidence. They also had more productive relationships and the ability to see the bigger picture.



Marketers can only measure things they can manage. Therefore, the authors developed the Sitecore® Customer Experience Maturity Model™ to walk people through the customer experience incrementally and to understand how to measure it.

Since connecting with customers is a goal that continually evolves, this model offers seven stages to map the customer experience and offers guidance on responding to customer behavior at each step. It matches marketing efforts with marketing objectives and reaches to all areas of an organization. The steps are:

1. Initiate: This is the beginning of the journey and often starts with a static website.

2. Radiate: Reach customers across channels, which often include a mobile website and social media.

3. Align: Digital goals are aligned with strategic objectives.

4. Optimize: Each point in the customer journey is optimized to be relevant to customers’ specific needs.

5. Nurture: Relate to customers based on their profile data so they can be nurtured.

6. Engage: Connect with customers across online and offline touch points. This step is challenging because it includes data from different parts of a company.

7. Lifetime customers: Use past customer data and predictive analytics to predict customers’ future needs