Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.


Does physiology affect our propensity for change? A sneak peek at Simon Sinek’s latest book “Leaders Eat Last”

Are we just “ugly giant bags of mostly water”?—alien’s description of humans, Star Trek, The Next Generation, “Home Soil”

physiology of changeThis may be a contentious topic. Are we servants to our base instincts or are we higher, sentient beings capable of controlling our instincts with intellect and morals? Or, on any given day or situation, somewhere in between?

When we better understand why we, as human beings, “do the things we do” we are all better off. We can be more conscious of our personal choices. In our role as strategy execution and change management leads we can help people navigate their reactions to change more consciously. 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)
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Are you making a difference? Why change management?

I meet a lot more people these days who are interested in authenticity and making a difference.  I view this trend as a move in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs closer to self-actualization (i.e., money and status are surpassed as satisfactory rewards). This won’t resonate with everyone―you Gordon Gekkos of the world just won’t get this so you can stop reading right now.  However, for those interested in making a difference, we are on a mission aren’t we?

The unintended consequences of vacations

Maybe this post is a result of vacation.  Vacations are always a time of personal renewal and reflection, re-setting for the year to come.  This post was supposed to be about “the role of generosity in change management” but it morphed into this. As I untangled a mess of ideas around why generosity is so important in practicing change management (as in ‘generosity of spirit’ such as empathy, compassion, tolerance, patience) I started to think about why I got into this work in the first place.
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Do some strategies require more of us than others? Changes That Matter

Do some of the strategies that we work on matter more than others? This is not to discount the importance of any strategy that an enterprise chooses to invest in.  However, as an example to make the case more directly:  when lives, livelihoods and quality of life are directly on the line, do these changes require more of us (inspire us more)?  If your personal approach allows for such a value judgment do you bring yourself to such work differently? Along the same lines, I find it intriguing that so many of us are compelled to do pro bono work for non-profits and charities – seems to me that this work has different dimensions.

Earlier this year our Chairman, Daryl Conner, was asked to do a keynote for the first global conference of the Association of Change Management Practitioners.  He chose to discuss “The Why Behind What We Do”.  He asked us all to consider three questions:

  1. Why do we do what we do?
  2. Do we make a difference?
  3. Are we living up to our responsibilities?

As I reflected on the types of changes I have worked on I realized that they were qualitatively different and their unique dimensions required, and inspired, different responses from me.  Understanding the differences has focused my approach and requires me to constantly invest in getting better at this pivotal discipline. I believe our Change Management work often makes a difference in the success rates of critical strategic initiatives that impact the enterprise, the community and often even the economy.  This suggests a higher order of responsibility of diligence on these Changes That Matter.
continue reading here