Enroll Leaders

How to Enroll Your Leadership Team

“We are too busy now…”

I have heard this so many times in the last couple of weeks. And rightly so. This pandemic has thrown almost every organization and its leaders into new and uncharted territories. In times like these, perhaps more than any other, it is important to ensure your leaders are enrolled and aligned.

This video outlines five simple steps you can follow to ensure your team is aligned and marching forward. Especially now as you might need to adjust your purpose and your plans, these steps can make the difference between an aligned team and one that is disjointed and cross-functionally dysfunctional.

Please share your thoughts on LinkedIn.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,


Christopher Davis

Effective Process Redesign Requires Transformational Thinking

I recently had the opportunity to interview Christopher Davis. Christopher is a seasoned  Chief Information Officer (CIO) – and no stranger to transformational change. We talked about an experience he had recently leading a business transformation.

Steve: What does it mean to you to be a transformational leader?

Christopher: There are two important elements of transformational leadership. The first is to recognize that as your business is moving along a strategic path, there are many opportunities for change and improvement. A transformational leader can see these needs before others. The other element is to be able to influence people in your organization to own and drive those changes.

Steve: Tell me about a time when this was particularly challenging or rewarding for you. What was the situation, what did you do, how did it work out?

Christopher: Sleep Number went through a couple of iterations of process and systems transformation. Essentially, we built a technology infrastructure that would support growth both internationally and domestically. In partnership with several business leaders, we went through a two-year implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management (ERP and CRM). This included the data analytics which required a great deal of process redesign. We were able to implement the entire organization with data analytics, increasing our decision-making capability six-fold with only 50% more employees to support the environment.

Steve: How did you clarify the purpose of your transformation?

Christopher: As part of our process design, we discussed the benefits of cross-functional analytics and repeatedly heard how challenging it was to perform this type of analysis. The new ERP platform would give us the capability to source data from an integrated system. We demonstrated how this could work and kept the idea of new cross-functional capabilities in front of the team.

Steve: In what ways did you experience cross-functional dysfunction, and how did you address this?

Christopher: The dysfunction was in the analytical detail, where the organization would have different definitions for the same metrics. “Company Sales” or “Margin” had different meanings between functions. This made it a challenge to design the solution. We had to drive to alignment on definitions before we could start the design, and this required several meetings to sort out these definitions.

Steve: Were there cultural attributes that made the transformation easier or more difficult?

Christopher: On the upside, we were also working on the total ERP & CRM solution, so there were many conversations. The project encouraged employees across the company to collaborate and be open to change. Also, the organization tends to be more cross-functional, so it made it easier to have these conversations.

The challenge was that sometimes a team thought they were right and weren’t easily influenced, so gaining agreement was difficult. This required us to bring people together to understand differences – and the dialog led to greater clarity.

Steve: How did you enroll others in the transformation?

Christopher: We engaged representatives from every executive team. We met with them regularly to define, design, build and operate. It was the first time we did this, and it worked out well.

Steve: Please comment on the organizational challenges you faced, both structural and behavioral.

Christopher: Time was the biggest challenge. We were required to change job descriptions to ensure ownership of this work and allocate the time necessary for the work. Some teams understood this better than others. We found that it was a function of executive engagement. When the senior leaders made it a priority, it was easier for us to move along the timeline more effectively.

Steve: How did you become more of a coach?

Christopher: Candidly, I had to be a coach because I was an influencer and not a direct- report leader. I needed the rest of the organization to understand the value of our work, and why the investment was worthwhile. I also found that this helped my team understand their role was to partner and coach with their counterparts across the business. They could no longer  drive change on their own. They became internal consultants who coached the organization to identify challenges and opportunities.

Steve: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

Christopher: Listen. Listen. Listen. When you are making significant changes, you need to recognize there are three perspectives: people, process and technology. You need to pay attention to all of them and the technology is the easiest of the three.

Steve: Christopher, thank you for sharing this insightful journey on how to build a successful, transformative, analytics team. Best wishes for great success in the future.


Special Edition: Three Things You Can do Right Now

The coronavirus outbreak has challenged us in ways we never thought possible. More and more of us are working from home. As employees are hunkered down in their home offices, you risk losing cohesion and momentum. As a leader, there are a few things you can do to keep your organization together and reduce isolation during this critical time. Thankfully we have so much technology to help make this possible.

  1. Show solidarity. Keep your purpose alive and continue to communicate progress made toward achieving your goals. Consider doing this more frequently to help people stay in tune with the larger goals of your organization. Ensure your leadership team is doing the same with each other and with their teams.
  2. Solicit ideas and feedback. Studies show that innovation declines as people disperse. Now is the time to ratchet up your efforts to find improvement opportunities. It’s also a good time to check in with individual employees and seek feedback. This encourages greater collaboration across your organization – helping people to stay in touch with one another. It also shows you care.
  3. Remain committed to personal integrity. We have yet to see any widespread opportunism because of this crisis. Continue to pursue your relentless work to eliminate any sign of Integrity Deficit Syndrome in your organization and your community.

I work from my home office nearly every day, so this change doesn’t impact me as much as it might you. I find it is important to build breaks into your day. It’s easy to become so focused on your work that you lose track of time, and before you know it, you’ve been sitting in front of a computer for hours. Set a timer. Take a break. Go for a walk (be safe!). Play with the dog. Play with the kids – they probably need a break, too. These mental breaks are important.

Let’s all hope for a speedy transition through this current situation. In the meantime, be safe and be healthy.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,




Branding Purpose

How Branding your Strategy Drives Purpose

One higher education client I worked with years ago implemented an entirely new student administration system to run their operations. This change was going to impact almost every stakeholder, including the entire faculty, all students, and most of the administrators. We wanted to name this project something other than “The New Student Administration System.” This seemed impersonal, too long, and didn’t really resonate with the needs of the students – the primary customer. This west coast institution has a large population of international students, which ultimately led us to name the project “Passport,” signaling that the new system would make it easier for students to become part of the institution. With Passport, students gained access to many resources the college had to offer.

Another client I worked with restructured their organization to drive greater customer satisfaction. This leader inherited an organization with abysmal employee morale and double-digit unfavorable attrition. Ultimately, we branded the restructuring effort, “Every Engagement Counts,” to help employees understand that everyone’s work was crucial to the success of the company. Within a year, we doubled engagement scores and slashed unfavorable attrition.

Both examples demonstrate how branding your strategy helps convey the goal of the transformation in the simplest terms. It helps answers the question, “why?”

These brands also clarify the purpose of the transformation in a simple way that people easily understand. The purpose of implementing a new student administration system wasn’t to implement technology. The purpose was to make it easier for students to access more college resources faster and more efficiently. . The purpose of restructuring the organization wasn’t to have a new org chart. The purpose was to dramatically improve both customer service and increase  employee enrollment.

How do you develop a brand? There are lots of ways. In the first example above, we held a contest among employees to identify a name and awarded a prize to the winning entry. Sounds cheesy? Maybe, but it was quite effective.

In the second example, the brand came   from the leadership team after months of building a stronger coalition among them, and collectively defining more clearly the outcomes they would achieve.

One question that surfaces when I talk with clients about branding is, “What’s the difference between clear purpose and branding?” Sometimes they are interchangeable. “Every Engagement Counts” was both. It expressed clear purpose for the transformation, and it was a phrase that everyone could easily remember, and it mattered to them.

More often, branding comes after clear purpose is identified. Once a leadership team defines clear purpose, it becomes easier to identify a few words or a phrase that embodies the purpose.. There’s no real science here as it depends on so many factors. Here is a process I use with leadership teams.

1.    Identify factors regarding the current state of major stakeholders of the change, especially customers and employees.

2.    Identify how implementing purpose will impact these stakeholders in both the near term and a few years out.

3.    Brainstorm a list of “what will be different” phrases.

4.    Select key words or phrases from this brainstormed list.

5.    Identify potential synonyms for words that might better describe the outcome in simple words.

6.    Pick two or three options; let it simmer over a few days.

7.    Reconvene to collectively select the final branding statement.

This process is messy, and you may skip or rearrange steps. It’s the collision of science and art – the structure of a clear purpose statement versus artistic flair to capture the imagination of what is possible with the change.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,


Powerful Purpose

How to Ensure that Powerful Purpose Produces

Clear purpose is essential to the success of any strategy implementation or change. Clear purpose that describes tangible outcomes enables lower- level leaders and front-line employees to truly understand and act toward the desired change. As a leader, your role is to ensure you and your leadership team develop this clear purpose with clear outcomes and  model it every day.

Let’s look at this in more detail, through the lens of both structure and behavior.

Clear purpose with clear outcomes drives the structural approach to driving purpose. This means, that at minimum, the transformation team will be structured to drive various elements. For example, if your transformation is about preparing for exponential growth, you will dedicate resources to hire, place and develop new employees. This may include major efforts to reevaluate job structure. Another example, if your transformation is about merging two organizations, you will dedicate resources to understanding how financial statements may need to change, or how to incorporate both sets of employees into the new organization.

These structural approaches are logical and are not often missed. More important are behavioral approaches to driving purpose yet are often overlooked if not altogether ignored.  In the case of mergers and acquisitions, we can cite many failures due to underestimating the impact of culture.

This clear purpose with clear outcomes not only needs to make sense,  it needs to be built from passion.  This passion starts with the leader and cascades throughout the organization. Leaders need to believe the purpose and outcomes themselves, and then inspire their organization to believe it with them.

There are a few things a leader must do to ensure there is a behavioral or cultural element to defining and implementing purpose.

  1. The leader must be open- minded with their leadership team when creating purpose. Recognize that you don’t have all the answers. Leverage the combined knowledge of your leadership team to develop purpose everyone can support.
  2. Drive clarity. Drive to better rather than “good enough.” Remember that once you leave the meeting room, you and your leaders need to be able to communicate this message throughout the organization. If your purpose and outcomes are not clear, it will leave employees wondering and confused about your message.
  3. Support dissenting views. Both in the leadership team and with all employees, invite criticism. Be vulnerable. Allow people to weigh- in. If they don’t weigh- in, they won’t buy- in.
  4. Be truthful. When you avoid telling the truth in the guise of being kind, you are unkind. Employees want to hear the truth, even when it is messy, or puts their jobs at risk.

These actions may seem simple and straight forward on the surface, but they may require a new and different set of behaviors from the leader and their team.

  1. To be open- minded, you must have a degree of vulnerability. You recognize that you don’t have all the answers, and you are willing to listen to others. Further, you are willing to admit when you are wrong. Employees don’t see this admission as a weakness, rather they see it as a strength.
  2. You need to trust your leadership team to do what’s right for the organization, and that they will be open with you about opportunities and challenges. This takes time to build, but if it’s based on the foundation of vulnerability, it will happen.
  3. Honest dissent. With trust in the organization, leaders and employees alike are better able to challenge each other, with the goal of seeking the best solution for the organization.

These behavioral elements pave the way for a more successful achievement of purpose. You can have all the structural elements in place, but if you aren’t also driving the behavioral elements, your success is in jeopardy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,



Multiple Purpose

How One Purpose Leads to Another

In the video linked here, I share how over time one purpose leads to another. You might think this rather elementary since as companies grow and change, they implement multiple strategies over time. Yet there are elements of the original purpose that are expanded upon that keep the organization focused on its long- term mission.

This month we’ll take a closer look at purpose. We’ll examine the often overlooked behavioral elements required to be successful with purpose and we’ll look at branding. Finally, there will be a case study where we share one leader’s experience driving purpose through an organizational transformational change.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,


Emotional Intelligence

How Emotional Intelligence Speeds Transformation

Organizational health is crucial to success. One element of this is the emotional intelligence of employees. In short, emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to accurately assess body language or other cues, non-verbal and verbal, and  and act accordingly.

When an organization has enough EQ, it will execute change faster and with fewer missteps since employees and leaders alike are able to swiftly and accurately communicate with each other. They consider body language, tone or other non-verbal cues during their exchanges. Prerequisites include a certain level of organizational trust and the ability to engage in productive dissent.

Here are a few examples of indirect cues and how to handle them:


Example Non-EQ Response EQ response
Sarcasm They meant what they said. Clarify, “I can’t tell if you are serious.”
Arms crossed over chest They don’t agree. Acknowledge or ask, “Is this hitting the mark? Is there something else about this you would like to hear about?”
Fiddling with phone or other items They are not interested. Ask, “Are we using this time most effectively, or is there another course of action we need to follow?” Or it could be as simple as, “Do we need a break?”
Constantly challenging details They are completely resistant, or the idea is all wrong. Reframe the discussion to ask “We are here to discuss a specific topic.” You might also ask, “Is this going in the right direction? Are we addressing the opportunity as you see it?”
Happy, smiling It’s in the bag! It’s good to close more broadly with asking “Have we addressed your major objectives?” or “is there anything else you’d like to see?”


You can see how the EQ response acknowledges behavior that might otherwise be misinterpreted. The EQ response will contextualize observed behavior and should lead to further open dialog. Beware, though, you may have several iterations of this before you reach alignment.

The EQ response speeds results. It reduces the guess work in communications.

Assessing your culture and doing something about it doesn’t have to be difficult. There is a free assessment on my website that you can use to assess your culture. Let me know if I can help you with the assessment at steve@stevesalisburyconsulting.com or call me 269-326-1576.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,


Learn Vs Execute


How Too Much Focus on Results Hurts a Transformation

We’ve all heard it, and certainly the Wall Street Analysts pound the drum. “Focus on Results.”

While this is crucial to short term, bottom line performance, I believe it creates a barrier to an organization’s ability to drive long-term transformational change.

From a cultural perspective, I look at this as a continuum between learning versus accomplishment. Worst-case scenarios are at either end of the spectrum. If your culture values only learning,  you may never accomplish anything. On the other hand, if your organization only values accomplishment, or results, you may repeat similar mistakes over and over without knowing what is happening.

There must be a balance. Effective cross-functional teams take the opportunity to pause  key-points in their process to step back and assess lessons learned and how to adjust the plans accordingly.

Focusing purely on accomplishment can create a scenario where you might miss important changes in the environment. Worse yet, if you have a high-risk culture, it hinders your evaluation of lessons learned.

How do strike this important balance between learning and accomplishment?

  1. First, make your own assessment about your culture. Do we take time to learn? Do we have mechanisms in our transformation projects to pause to evaluate? These can be as simple as occasional project reviews where you ask questions about how the team has applied learnings from challenges along the way.
  2. Implement post project lessons-learned activities where the team shares both positive and constructive feedback. Ensure positives are reinforced and constructive items are folded into upcoming initiatives.
  3. Reward your leaders and teams for striking the appropriate balance. Again, accomplishment is important, but not at the expense of learning how to improve.

I’ve worked with organizations that fell too far on both sides of this spectrum. Organizations that were more focused on learning spent a little too much time philosophizing, creating challenges in meeting deadlines. Organizations more focused on accomplishment stumbled more than it needed to in executing large projects.

Assessing your culture and doing something about it doesn’t have to be difficult. There is a free assessment on my website that you can use to assess your culture.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,


How Culture Impacts Transformation

See this month’s video to learn about cultural factors that impact your transformation success. Then use the assessment on my website to assess your culture.

Over the next two weeks we’ll dive into a couple of these factors.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,




Boeing, the 737 Max, and Cross-Functional Dysfunction

Boeing, the 737 Max, and Cross-Functional Dysfunction

Cross functional dysfunction is the root cause of the issues Boeing is facing with the 737 Max.

A brief history.

In 1997, Boeing with its engineering culture purchased McDonald Douglas. The latter had a bean-counter culture. Over time, market and investor pressure won out and the newly formed company became more focused on financials than it did on engineering. Soon, all ideas were scrutinized for financial viability. The 737 Max was designed to hold more people without a major change to the base design – rather than start from scratch. An attempt was made to resolve some design issues with software, but these failed. As problems started to surface, employees faced great pressure to keep costs down. A few who tried to express concerns were squelched. Passenger safety was sacrificed.

Since last year, Boeing has lost over $60 billion in market value. That’s a lot of beans.

Volumes have been written about this, and undoubtedly many more volumes are yet to come. My perspective? Boeing’s culture needs to change to focus more on listening. Sounds easy. No. This leadership team now needs to begin to  build a culture where people trust one another to speak up and offer their ideas. A culture where they can challenge each other, regardless of hierarchy, to make better – and safer – decisions. This takes work. It means people put aside their egos. It means having a willingness to accept and act on difficult feedback. It means listening. Not listening to judge, or listening to speak, but listening to hear..

What’s the lesson for all of us? Stop. Be quiet. Listen. Do what’s best for the customer.

Especially if their lives are in your hands.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.