Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

Insights in Change Management—Interview with Kimberlee Williams, CEO, ignitem (Part 3 of 3)

Who do you seek out when faced with something new?

Someone who has done it before, of course. Leading and managing change is fraught with risk—nuanced, contextual, dynamic, and difficult to decipher.

Judgement is acquired over time and experience.

It is a rare opportunity to speak with a seasoned practitioner in change management and get his or her insights.

This is a continuation of the interview with Kimberlee Williams, CEO, ignitem. For Part 1 please click here; for Part 2 click here.

7.  Inspirations and Aspirations—Who inspires you? Individuals you work with? Do you mentor others? Do pro-bono work? Writing? Networking?

I find that the people who are most inspiring are regular people who accomplish extraordinary things. I enjoy the camaraderie of working with like-minded, business-focused professionals who find ways to deliver seemingly impossible initiatives of all shapes and sizes.

That, to me—the hard work of rolling the rock up the hill, and getting it there successfully—is awe inspiring. I train and mentor others for a living, but beyond that, I also do some pro-bono advisory work with non-profits—last year I worked with the American Cancer Society. Next year, I am looking forward to publishing my first book (based on “the 7 critical elements”) and I am always open to networking.

There’s a large volume of superficial change management advice published, but real specialized knowledge in executing transformation and change is still too inaccessible, often veiled in the mystique of costly consulting firms.

My deepest aspiration is to leverage and share my expertise with business professionals so they can access affordable knowledge that develops their ability to lead change and helps them accomplish whatever change they are making in the world. My job is to help them be successful. That is my role.

8.  Futuring—If you could imagine one discovery or innovation that would radically improve our CM work, what might that be? What is missing from our “standard” body of knowledge?

Two shifts that would radically improve our work:

1)      Prioritize our time/work differently so we have the time to influence strategically. I still see too many change professionals deliberate over change management plans, reinvent PMO roadmaps, and so forth. While a level of customization is needed, this is not where the high-impact work happens. There are some great done-for-you resources that can take hours, days, or more off of even seasoned professionals’ approaches; we need to use them.

2)      The next frontier for us, and the place the high-impact work does happen, is in “coaching conversations. My theory is that, because there are so many variables, and conversations are so dynamic, only a limited amount of this can be learned through books. The crux of learning what to say to get people to take desired action happens through using scenarios, quick situation assessments, asking questions, and practising to get to the best results. It’s time we move off the theoretical and help our practitioners find the words they need in the moment. That’s an area I am tackling head-on in my business through individual and group coaching calls.

3.  Rejuvenation—Helping others through change (leaders and change targets) can be emotionally fatiguing. How do you renew? Re-fuel?

Helping others through change is actually very energizing for me, but at times when I do need a break, I make changes in my environment. I will change my scenery by working in different locations in my building or nearby spaces; it creates new perspectives that get me past short-term humps.

In terms of really rebooting, my husband and I are both renewed by nature, especially water. We live on the Hudson River across from Manhattan and spend a lot of time there and in Ontario, Canada, boating and fishing. 

We also enjoy international travel very much, particularly Asia. Although being in unfamiliar places where people speak a different language and use a different alphabet is exhausting for many people, the intellectual energy and focus it takes to adapt makes it impossible to worry about anything else. We’ve made 4-8 week trips to Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, and India. We’re hoping to make Thailand/Laos/Cambodia our next trip. Our ultimate goal is to be location-independent within the next few years so we can both continue our work, but our trips can last longer.

If anyone knows of international speaking or other opportunities on topics related to business transformation or change leadership, I would love to discuss them.

Bonus Question: Ask it forward—What question(s) would you like to ask other practitioners?

What conversations or situations do you struggle with the most while driving change in your company?

Thank you, Kimberlee.


More great posts on change management and strategy execution in the archives to the left and coming soon.  You can subscribe top left.

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