“Russ’s work is in high demand as a result of his excellent instruction, his thorough research and publications, and his successful consulting with many organizations.”
—Joe Riddle, retired federal Senior Executive Service member
Our consulting is guided by certain principles which we have developed over the past 30 years. These principles include:
- Respect for the client. It’s easy to be a “Monday morning quarterback,” to stand on the sidelines, ridicule someone’s efforts and point out what they should have done. We respect the challenges our clients face, having worked in management positions ourselves.
- Active involvement of organization employees. The people in the organization know where many of the problems lie, and they are a good source of creative solutions. We involve them in assessing the organization’s strengths and shortcomings, and in developing action plans for improvement.
- Building on the client’s strengths and demonstrated values. All organizations do certain things well, and all organizations develop certain values over time. We help clients discover and articulate what they are, so that they can use them to improve performance and meet customer needs.
- Providing customized solutions. There are many similarities across organizations, but the differences are what make each organization interesting and challenging. We refuse to use “boilerplate” solutions. Rather, we help clients develop solutions that fit their culture, their business, their people and strengths, their customers.
- Challenging and “stretching” people to develop new perspectives, skills, capabilities. One way we show respect for our clients is that we don’t waste their time (or ours) by telling them that everything’s great, that they walk on water, that their critics are stupid. We tell our clients the truth, as we see it, in a way that they can hear it and use it. If a client organization doesn’t want that, then they don’t want us and we won’t be able to work together. When clients do want that, we accomplish wonderful things together.
Areas of Practice
- Work with senior and middle managers to help them understand what’s involved in redesigning work processes, how this change affects other aspects of organizational life, and why alignment of process redesign with other organizational systems is critical
- Help the senior managers learn their roles in process redesign; appoint a steering team to oversee initial projects
- Work with a senior sponsor to identify design teams and processes to redesign
- Train the first design teams, using the four-step methodology spelled out in Russ Linden’s Workbook for Seamless Government
- Work with the senior sponsor and the steering team to support the initial design teams
- Help the design teams stay on track, anticipate and deal with problems, develop a “business case” that details its proposals
- Work with implementation teams to see that proposals become reality
- Many organizations need help in managing change. It’s hard work, there are no easy shortcuts, and if it isn’t managed well, the greatest strategies and innovations usually fail.
- Focus on engaging and involving the people who must make the changes - the employees
- Emphasize creative, proven communications approaches during change
- Help the change leaders articulate a clear, consistent story that answers the key questions: Why? Why this change? And What’s in it for the employees?
- Support a change team that writes and implements the change plan.
- Provide support to the employees through workshops on The Human Side of Change
- Provide change leaders with the lessons from other organizations that have succeeded, and failed, in managing change
- Provide a listing of the 8 key requirements for initiating and maintaining change, and help the change leaders assess where they are and where they need to be relative to those requirements.
Strategic Thinking and Acting
Planning in today’s “white water” environment is harder than ever. It’s also more important than ever. How do managers and leaders plan at a time when so many initiatives are “OBE” - overtaken by events?
- Help the client identify and build on its strengths - core values, core competencies, how it’s performed when at its best
- Engage in a “workload” reduction” effort. Identify tasks, activities, forms, meetings, even programs and services that are not needed, don’t add value to customers, and only absorb employee’s time - and do these less often or not at all.
- Determine key issues that are facing the client in short and medium term
- Understand and articulate the outcomes the client wants for its customersEstablish annual goals that lead to those outcomes
- Get considerable employee input on objectives and strategies that will achieve those goals
- Build into the process a philosophy of continual learning, so that the planning effort adapts as the environment changes
Team Building and Collaboration
The movement to the team concept in organizations is powerful, and holds great promise for most organizations. However, there are many reasons why teams often fail: teams aren’t appropriate for all tasks; most professionals prefer to work autonomously rather than in teams; teams at the top are the harest, yet many senior managers assume they must work as a team in order to “walk the talk.” We first help you figure out where a team approach makes sense, and where it doesn’t. Once that is clear, then we work with you on how to support teams for improved performance.
- Help the client think through why they want to move to teams, what they can learn from their past experience with teams, what kinds of work teams can do better than individuals
- Once a work unit is identified as needing and wanting to work as a true team, use an approach we call the Discovery Method, to learn when the unit has worked well as a team, and when it hasn’t; this gives the members important information that helps them create a plan for developing itself as a team
- Identify the performance challenges that require a genuine team effort
- Review examples from other organizations of teams that work well, discuss lessons learned
- Help the team articulate ground rules and goals for its team efforts
- Give the team training in critical team skills and behavior: giving and receiving feedback, facilitation skills, conflict management skills, communications and active listening skills, meeting management skills
- Begin practicing these skills, using the team’s ground rules, on real work that requires a team effort
- Provide consultation, coaching and feedback to the team as it makes progress and encounters problems.