Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.


What can Pixar teach us about innovation and change?

“Since change is inevitable, the question is: Do you act to stop it and try to protect yourself from it, or do you become the master of change by accepting it and being open to it? My view, of course, is that working with change is what creativity is all about”. Ed Catmull, “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration”, Random House Canada, 2014.

Creativity inc book image AmazonI start a lot of books these days but I don’t finish that many. I just finished this one and I have to say, it was worth it.

“Creativity Inc” is a story about drive, determination and creativity and how leaders build and sustain a culture of world class innovation.  It is about the application of important change management principles, even if not called out as such. Most of the middle of the book addresses pragmatic approaches that Catmull used at Pixar that every company can modify and apply.

We can learn a great deal from their journey. Start-up innovation might be the most difficult class of “change”.  It involves constantly transforming so as to invent a future that is completely uncharted territory.  Here are a few highlights that resonated with me.  Continue reading



When Harvard professors duke it out – the ugly debate on Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation

Harvard thought leaders duke it out over strategy

If you have missed it, the gladiators at Harvard Business School are duking it out this week.

You really must catch up.

Here’s the plot line:

May 31st Harvard University is facing disruption of its own business model.  The New York Times reports on “Business School, Disrupted” (addressing the impact of eLearning and Harvard’s strategic choice) and the life’s work of Michael Porter and Clayton Christensen are applied and contrasted as “The Clashing Models”.

A relatively unknown history professor at Harvard, and former student of Michael Porter, writes a scathing, and very public, attack on Christensen’s life’s work in The New Yorker.

June 20th Christensen responds in a candid interview on BloombergBusinessWeek. continue reading here



Multiplying the power of thought partners to super-charge your strategy

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”―Jim Rohn

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I often have the opportunity to think together with colleagues and clients.

You do too, I am sure.  Sometimes it is to plan or solve an issue or even just to chat over a friendly coffee comparing notes on our profession.

The power of the “mind meld” 

However, really thinking together, which my friend Bill Braun describes as “moving along together in thought”, is rare. continue reading here



New !! Model to understand Strategy Execution success

Outperfom model Gail SeveriniWhat comes after radio silence?

Something new.

It has been several weeks since I provided a blog post – I hope you have missed me a little and I hope the wait is worth it.

I am in the process of developing and publishing a new model to better understand Strategy Execution and what is required for success.

Here is the first public presentation, embedded in a presentation to The Conference Board of Canada’s annual Change Management conference on the topic “Is Change Management tactical or strategic?”.  Lots more coming.

continue reading here



What is the Board’s Role in Strategy and Strategy Execution? Post 3 of 3

ICD growing moneyThis post concludes my notes and my observations and comments (indicated by italics) from the panel discussion, “Growth Strategy—the Board’s Role,” run by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD).

The panel was stellar, with names well known to board and strategy watchers: Thomas O’Neill, Krystyna Hoeg, Stephen Bear, and Ken Smith (bios in Post 1). Overall, I found it a great overview of the most obvious answers to the seven questions, peppered with relevant examples and a few deeply insightful remarks.

The bottom line for me? The board members totally “get” the need to be engaged in strategy formulation; however, there was not much conversation about execution. Granted, it was not specifically called out in the abstract but I had hoped it would get more mention. The jury is out for me on what to make of the fact that it didn’t. continue reading here



What is the Board’s Role in Strategy and Strategy Execution? Post 2 of 3

Institute of Corporate DirectorsThis post is a continuation of notes from a fantastic panel discussion, “Growth Strategy—the Board’s Role,” run by the Institute of Corporate Directors.

On stage, board members represented major public- and private-sector organizations such as BCE, Bell Canada, Scotiabank, Loblaw, Shoppers Drug Mart, St. Michael’s Hospital, Sun Life Financial, Canadian Pacific Railway, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, and Imperial Oil. Bios are provided in Post 1. My own comments are indicated in italics. continue reading here



The fight of our lives: innovation leadership

“America is NOT the greatest country in the world anymore…We are 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, 4th in labor force and 4th in exports. We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right…We fought for moral reasons…We built great big things…We reached for the stars…We aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior…We didn’t scare so easy.” Excerpt from “Newsroom” (R-rated language).

innovation leadership There has been a lot of talk, in the last ten or twenty years, about innovation. And yet, it seems to take forever. Think:

  • –  Manufacturing (the North American auto industry had to face almost certain death before innovating)
  • –  Healthcare (only a sliver of health records are electronically stored)
  • –  Newspaper publishing
  • –  Big box retail (Radio Shack, Circuit City, Best Buy, J.C. Penney)
  • –  And look ahead to pharma (with patents expiring, it remains to be seen whether big pharma can re-invent its business models)
  • continue reading here