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



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



Building your leadership legacy—the organization that thrives for generations. Interview with Daryl Conner, Chairman, Conner Partners on the “nimble organization.” Post 3 of 3

“If I have done any deed worthy of remembrance, that deed will be my monument. If not, no monument can preserve my memory.”—Agesilaus II

Legacy - fingerprint with citation.jpgLeaders at the very top of organizations—and by this I mean board members, CEOs, EVPs, and SVPs—have a very rare opportunity. They shape the destinies of their organizations and those of the people working for them, not to mention people in the communities they serve and the economies in which they operate.

Through their corporate strategies, they leave their fingerprints on the future of their organizations in the short term (which is always under scrutiny by Wall Street), but also in the long term.

Can leaders build organizations that outperform the market over 18 years or longer? Where should they start? continue reading here



What is leadership’s responsibility for driving and sustaining a nimble organization? Interview with Daryl Conner, Chairman, Conner Partners. Post 2 of 3

Daryl Conner’s extensive thought leadership on creating nimble organizations has the potential to breathe new life into the dinosaurs of the Fortune 1000 and S&P 500.

As a preface, let’s just level-set. Why should leaders and boards care about an organization’s ability to change? Is it a real issue?

Tenure on S&P500The statistics are not kind.

The Innosight study, “Creative Destruction Whips through Corporate America,” indicates that:

“the 61-year tenure for the average firm in 1958 narrowed to 25 years in 1980—and to 18 years now.” (2012) continue reading here



The strategic imperative of the “nimble organization” and why it seems to be a mirage. Interview with Daryl Conner, Chairman, Conner Partners. Post 1 of 3

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daryl photo After the “Evolution of Change Management” series with Jennifer Frahm (where we landed with “Will ‘Change Management’ become extinct?”), and with Zappos announcing its move to holacracy, it just seemed like it was time to talk to Daryl Conner about the nimble organization.

In this post, I interview Daryl about what “nimble” means, why it is a strategic imperative, and why it seems to be so difficult for organizations to get traction with it. 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



Will “Change Management” become extinct? The evolution of Change Management. Post 3 of 3

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”—James Belasco and Ralph Stayer, Flight of the Buffalo (1994)

Holding on to the pastIn the last two posts, Jennifer Frahm and I considered the costs of the old “change the people or change the people” mindset, and then we looked at the environment of continuous chaos and thought leadership in developing nimble organizations.

This begs the question, “If we ever move in the direction of nimble organizations, will Change Management, as we know it today, become extinct? continue reading here