Two Orientations and Practices for Leading Change

Posted by Matthew Thomas

matthew-thomas-2Experienced leaders may disagree on a lot of things, but one thing almost all agree on is that growth as a leader is deeply personal, inner work. One may start off as a leader because of natural charisma or a position of authority, but staying a leader, and maturing as one, requires growth. Nowhere is this more true than in an adaptive leadership space - where the problems themselves may not be clear, let alone the solutions.


History is full of great speeches - real and imagined - that rally people to a cause and change the course of events. These make for good reference points, but they do not, in themselves, make things happen. Working through the vulnerabilities of adaptive leadership to achieve a posture of confident humility requires not just oratory of the Shakespearean sort, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears," but inner transformation.

Inner transformation creates orientations and practices that allow us to lead sustained organizational change with confident humility. Organizational change often requires a great deal of stamina, so a stump speech does not make our work sustainable. Sustainability comes from a self who is at peace with itself, its vocation, and its surroundings. Since none of us really start there, it takes a transformation process to get to that place of peace.

This points us to five practices that help to bring about this transformation. This article will cover the first two; the next three will follow next month.

For more content like this, click here to Subscribe to this Blog!

Quieting Ourselves

The first practice is to quiet ourselves. Our inner self is full of messages that run counter to healthy leadership. For most of us, these messages involve one or more of three emotions: anger, shame, or fear. We tend to vary in how these play out: by expressing, repressing, or denying them. As we quiet ourselves, this allows us to face the core emotions, and their sources.  This helps us become aware of what underlies our behaviors, our mindsets, and our habits.

Quieting ourselves, then, is the seed of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence works at four levels:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness (other-awareness)
  • Relationship management

Each of these levels builds on the other, and grows in us in a spiral or loop: each time we deepen one, it opens up opportunities to grow in the others, which in turn offer opportunities to grow in the place we started - but from a better vantage point.

Is your organization ready for change?   Take the Change Readiness Assessment!

Emotional intelligence empowers adaptive leadership by making our interactions with ourselves and others more intentional. Self-awareness and self-management allow us to be more intentional about what we do, what we say, and what we do with our feelings in any given moment. Social awareness and relationship management allow us to be intentional about how we interact with others. Emotional intelligence does not just make us aware of the emotions and needs of others, but it also shows where we and they begin and end. This allows for clearer, healthier responses to others' statements and actions. Most importantly, it allows us to engage deliberately with others without nearly so much anger, shame, or fear clouding the relationships. When that happens, we and they are more likely to achieve what we want. This quiet realignment allows us to point toward the second practice.


The second practice is curiosity. Curiosity finds others genuinely interesting and wants to know more. Our curiosity can include learning about details about how, what, when, and who. Adaptive leaders always start with why and end with why. For us, the reason for something and its significance are the most important of all. What drives people? What inspires us? Why is this important? Why are we talking? Why did they say that? Why did they respond this way? Why did that trigger something in me?

Curiosity allows us to open ourselves up to a listening posture. Listening begins, as we see, with quiet insides; the quiet insides build us to greater awareness of and empathy for others; that empathy drives curiosity; and the curiosity creates openness to listen - and really listen. We listen not just with our ears, but with the inner quietness that isn't just sitting there preparing our response. And this one is the hardest for those of us who can predict where someone is going before they even finish their sentence. And so we quiet ourselves again.

Listening allows us to be truly helpful when it is time to help. How many times have we been helped un-helpfully? Given something we didn't want or need? How many times have we done the same to others? Listening well increases the chances that the help we offer matches what is really needed.

The three remaining orientations and practices of Adaptive Leaders will be the subject of our next article. They are:

  • Respect
  • Delegation
  • Learning

How do you see this inner, personal work at play in your leadership? The inner quietness? Curiosity?

I'd love to hear what you have to say.

E-mail me.

Read More ›

Topics: adaptive change, adaptive leadership

Confident Humility in Leading Change

Posted by Matthew Thomas

MatthewMThomas10KIn the past three months, we have talked about leadership postures that increase the likelihood that change will go well. We have talked about change identification and building change capacity in the past two months. This month, we look at the third posture, leaning in to the vulnerabilities of adaptive leadership.


Successfully leading through change requires simultaneous confidence and humility. Both confidence and humility ground us in our own vocation while complex, and often chaotic, situations develop through the change process. We take humility as our baseline in all situations, remembering that:For more content like this, click here to Subscribe to this Blog!



  • We didn't get here on our own.
  • We know we have blind spots.
  • We have more to learn.
  • We can learn from our critics and enemies.
  • This too shall pass.
  • We are but dust.


This kind of humility challenges the protective and defensive behaviors our training as leaders has often conferred on us. Our training tells us that leaders command confidently, often blustering our way into whatever is next. More often than not we lead by:


  • Telling instead of asking.
  • Knowing instead of discovering.
  • Deciding instead of inviting input.
  • Doing for instead of doing with.
  • Asking "how can I help" instead of asking "who is the right person for this?


In change situations, and adaptive change especially, instead of starting with "I know how to get us out of this", a leader has to start with "I don't know." That is because the most significant change operates outside of a leader's direct control:


  • The problem may have clear symptoms, but the problem itself may be veiled and/or unclear.
  • The main place where work happens to affect the change is in the stakeholders, not in the leader or those directly under the leader's command. Leaders can command changes in some behaviors, but not changes in mindsets and the habits that express those mindsets.
  • The solution itself is unclear because the problem is unclear.
  • Both the problem and the solution require the leader and other stakeholders to learn alongside each other as the change progresses.


Each of these things challenge the way our training led us:


  • Telling instead of asking: we miss critical information.
  • Knowing instead of discovering: we stay solely in expertise, in a process where expertise is not enough.
  • Deciding instead of inviting input: we reduce or eliminate buy-in, our ability to broaden knowledge, and operational alignment.
  • Doing for instead of doing with: we isolate ourselves more than necessary by reinforcing power and dependency rather than interdependence and collaboration.
  • Asking "how can I help" instead of asking "who is the right person for this? We assume we are the solution, and remain focused on our own expertise instead of what the organization needs. This means we often produce the wrong results or pull things toward what we need, not what they need.


Humility, then, grounds our leadership vocation and helps us reduce our protective and defensive behaviors by taking the power out of our fear:


  • Asking means we don't have to be afraid of answers.
  • Discovering means we don't have to be afraid of our lack of knowledge.
  • Inviting input means we don't have to be afraid of criticism or challenge.
  • Doing with means we don't have to be afraid of the loss of power: we intentionally give it away.
  • Asking "who is the right person" means we don't have to be afraid of being useless: we stay rooted in our vocation.


This allows us to approach change with confidence in our humility. Sometimes, we mistake perpetual self-doubt and lack of confidence for humility. To the contrary: humility increases self-knowledge. Humility knows that we have blind spots, hidden places, and things we do not know. But it also is honest about what we do know, while being open to challenging even that.


So confident humility becomes the posture of an adaptive leader willing to lean in to the vulnerabilities of such leadership. Taking off all the posturing, reducing the fear, and opening ourselves (with Brené Brown's "strong back, soft front"), allow us to be confident in our humility.


As leaders living in confident humility we can:

  • Establish trust, now that we are more ready to show our true selves to one another.
  • We can empower learning, because we are no longer focused on blaming and punishing.
  • We build a culture of grace that allows for failures - and the structure that allows us to learn from them and grow instead of repeating them endlessly.
  • Empower others to make decisions, giving them the tools they need to take charge of their area of responsibility and experience the satisfaction of success.


How have you seen this in your leadership? In your organization? What would you add to what is here? What would you challenge? What resonates? What misses entirely?


Learn more: connect at a networking event, attend a seminar, book a learn more meeting, email Matthew, reach out by phone.

Read More ›

Topics: adaptive change, adaptive leadership

Building Organizational Change Capacity

Posted by Matthew Thomas

matthew-thomas-2Over the past two months, we have started conversation into four major postures involved in leading organizational change. Last month, we talked about identifying the different types of change involved in an organization: technical and adaptive. This month, we're looking at a topic people often think of at year-end: how to build capacity to handle change your organization.


As we discussed in the introductory article to this series,


"Building change capacity means that the organization's ability to manage and integrate changes increases and improves over time. Instead of just having the capacity to manage this current change, the organization is empowered to manage the change after that, and the one after that, and so on. Given the complexity facing most organizations, change capacity is essential to both long-term stability and overall return on investment."


There are six general aspects to building change capacity. Each interacts with the others to help an organization grow as it experiences change. 

  • Process Capacity
  • People Capacity
  • Leadership Capacity
  • Clear Measurement
  • Feedback Loops
  • Productive Disequilibrium

Let's unpack each one of these and see how it impacts change capacity. In each, we will highlight the impact on change capacity in bold italic.


Process Capacity measures the degree to which organizational processes clearly connect to why-who-what-when-how, and how the different processes connect to one another. Increased process capacity improves change capacity not only because processes become more efficient: as change builds through an organization, process capacity also improves people's ability to make decisions about changing processes, since the purpose and goals are more explicitly stated. This helps people move from rote action and disorganization to putting process into its proper perspective.


For more content like this, click here to Subscribe to this Blog!


People Capacity measures the major human components involved in individuals and teams getting things done well. These measurements all are founded on trust - which must be in place for people to interact positively with one another. Change is inherently risky, so trust is a strong prerequisite to any change process. Of course, People Capacity has other components as well - such as competencies, accountability, relationships, availability, alignment, and incentive. These are all built on trust, and that trust can grow as change takes place and people continue to feel valued and successful. People capacity builds change capacity by helping people feel secure in the midst of change, and making sure an organization has the right people in the right place at the right time doing the right things for the right reasons and being rewarded for them.


Leadership Capacity measures the ability of members of an organization to lean in beyond authority and inspire others to follow. Leadership capacity is assumed as a major component of successful change, but the emphasis is often only on a few people in positions of authority. Leadership capacity builds true change capacity when the leadership capacity of people in non-authority positions (and unrecognized authority positions) is present and growing.


Local to Champaign-Urbana?    Illinois?    For local offers click here!Clear Measurement means tracking what matters (not just what might be easy to count), that will help people make decisions, build relationships, make wise choices, and deepen knowledge. When measurement is clear, consistent, and connected to purpose, it helps people track progress - which can often seem elusive in large-scale or pervasive change scenarios. Clear Measurement builds change capacity because it gives orientation when people are in uncharted territory. Without this orientation, alignment tends to break down as change takes hold.


Using Feedback loops measures what balance there is between talking and listening in key organizational relationships. Organizational change means moving from pure authority ("I'm your boss, so you're going to do it") to leadership ("Let's do this! You coming?"). The more feedback loops exist, the greater the change capacity. Feedback loops make the impact of change (small and large) more immediately apparent and can give leaders the ability to respond sooner and more constructively.


Productive Disequilibrium measures how much change is putting people off-balance, but in ways that drive positive direction. The human body requires productive disequilibrium to walk or run. If a human body isn't off-balance even a little, it will not move forward. Same with organizations. How much is an organization's sense of being off-balance creating flailing about trying to regain stability, and how much of it is helping to create forward motion? The more disequilibrium can be focused on forward motion, and less on flailing around, the greater change capacity the organization has. Productive disequilibrium improves change capacity by sustaining the energy needed to keep things enough off-balance to change, but not so off-balance as to make things fall over.


Building these six things into any organization will help with its change capacity. Which of these impacts do you need to see in your change processes? What areas are you strong in? What areas would you like to grow in? How have you seen these at work?


Let's start a conversation.


For more content like this, click here to Subscribe to this Blog!

Read More ›

Topics: leading organizational change, change capacity, process capacity, clear measurement, people capacity, productive disequilibrium, feedback loops

Why is identifying adaptive change important?

Posted by Matthew Thomas

matthew-thomas-2-1Last month, I wrote about four leadership postures for organizational change. These postures shape our leadership stance, increasing the likelihood that our change process will achieve healthy results.


The first posture of those four was change identification - knowing what type of change we were dealing with: adaptive or technical. To recap the difference between the two:


"Adaptive changes deal with habits, mindsets, and behaviors, and require organizations and their leaders to learn something new to resolve the challenges at hand. Adaptive changes often have open-ended problem definitions and solutions. Technical changes, by contrast, require application of specific skills to bring a closed-ended issue to resolution."


Putting this posture first hints at its importance. So why is identifying adaptive change important for organizational leaders?


For more content like this, click here to Subscribe to this Blog!


To understand its importance, we have to look at our usual starting point. For a summary of the reasons why, skip to the end - otherwise, read on!


Where we (tend to) start


As leaders, we are trained to attack most problems as technical issues, which our expertise or an outside product will be able to resolve. Perhaps our challenge fits squarely in the middle of our deep, core expertise, something we trained for, we have degrees and certifications in, and have practiced over time. Alternatively, we may perceive the current challenge to be adjacent to our core expertise, and so we tend to apply our expertise there as well - to the degree we can.


This is how most of us were taught to solve problems: see problem, find solution. This works very well when we are working our way up through our core expertise - whether deepening it, broadening it, or both. This works particularly well in fields where the same problems come up over and over again, and the application of technique, product, or knowledge is tried and proven suitable.


Local to Champaign-Urbana?    Illinois?    For local offers click here!The problem comes when we find ourselves in our first leadership position where our core expertise is only a part of what we do. All of a sudden, the "Hello, Problem; meet Solution" approach doesn't work in all those other areas.


Our first instinct is, then, to see the fact that the solution didn't work as a matter of degree. We go back and check our work, and then increase the intensity of what we are doing, one way or another. And when that still doesn't work, we start troubleshooting: fiddle with this over here, adjust that over there, and see if that finally solves it.


In cases where intensity and troubleshooting don't work, we often find ourselves - and those who work for us and with us - frustrated, upset, and demoralized. We realize that the application of expertise hasn't worked, that increasing or decreasing the degree, intensity, or volume hasn't worked, and now we are stuck - having spent resources toward something that didn't get us where we wanted to go.


Our habits, our training, our expertise: all of these point us toward solving problems as technical ones. So we tend to apply technical expertise to leadership challenges and organizational situations. The problem is clear, the solution is clear, and, based on our authority as leaders, experts, or owners, we bring the problem to resolution.


When technical doesn't work


The problem is, as we well know, that's not always the case. We all deal with adaptive change more than we may even realize. In fact, the more leadership we experience, the less we see of technical issues and the more we deal with the adaptive. So being able to identify adaptive changes on the front end will help us apply a different approach to them, saving us time, money, and relational capital along the way.


Adaptive challenges begin with unclear problem definitions, and their solutions require the leader and the organization to learn something new. By virtue of that, the application of our expertise won't work. Therefore, in most cases, the authority we have that derives from that expertise does not give us the leverage to make something happen that it otherwise would. Therefore, the bulk of the work doesn't come from the expert applying expertise, but from all involved (the stakeholders - which could include staff, vendors, and clients/customers/members/beneficiaries) finding ways to engage with and wrestle through the challenges.


Significant organizational change is almost always adaptive; adaptive change does not always show up as significant organizational change. In other words, if an organization needs to change its culture, its way of operating, or has experienced a major stuck point, it is likely that these are adaptive changes. On the other hand, adaptive challenges can appear in small ways on a daily basis. The cumulative effect of these may be significant organizational change, but that's not how they first appear. So many of us do, in fact, deal with adaptive change more than we think we do.


So why is identifying what type of change we are experiencing so important?


We have seen several reasons why identifying what type of change we are in is important.


  1. Adaptive change shows up a lot more than we might expect, and not usually in dramatic ways.
  2. Adaptive challenges require a significantly different approach to resolve them than technical challenges do.
  3. We are primed to solve things technically by our training and expertise - even when our training and expertise do not apply.
  4. Taking a technical approach when the challenge is really adaptive can waste time, energy, and money, and hurt relationships. In fact, it can make the challenge worse.


Where have you seen the importance of identifying what type of change you are in?


Let me know. E-mail me.

Read More ›

Topics: adaptive change, adaptive leadership, identifying adaptive change, leading organizational change

Leadership Postures for Organizational Change

Posted by Matthew Thomas

matthew-thomas-2-1I work with a lot of leaders in the midst of significant changes to their organizations. They tell me stories about the change processes that lead to positive transformations, and they tell me stories about changes that caused harm and distress. What I have discovered is that the success or failure of a change process is more about a leader's stance as they approach organizational change than it is about their particular skill set.


This stance is made up of four postures that, taken together, increase the likelihood that change will go well. There are, of course, no guarantees in situations that are inherently complex. But as many leaders have learned, more often than not, we have to work with improved probabilities, not certainties. Let's look at these four postures that position us best for organizational transformation.


Local to Champaign-Urbana?    Illinois?    For local offers click here!


The first posture in leading organizational change is change identification. Change identification makes sure we have the mental and organizational perspective to identify the type of change that is going on or needing to take place: is it primarily adaptive, or primarily technical? Adaptive changes deal with habits, mindsets, and behaviors, and require organizations and their leaders to learn something new to resolve the challenges at hand. Adaptive changes often have open-ended problem definitions and solutions. Technical changes, by contrast, require application of specific skills to bring a closed-ended issue to resolution. They often involve a mechanical repair, a software upgrade, or a program or event. These two different types of changes, and the mixture of the two, require strikingly different approaches in leadership and process.


The second posture in leading organizational change is change capacity. As successful leaders, we position ourselves to build change capacity into the organization. Building change capacity means that the organization's ability to manage and integrate changes increases and improves over time. Instead of just having the capacity to manage this current change, the organization is empowered to manage the change after that, and the one after that, and so on. Given the complexity facing most organizations, change capacity is essential to both long-term stability and overall return on investment.


For more content like this, click here to Subscribe to this Blog!


The third posture in leading organizational change is to lean into the vulnerabilities of adaptive leadership. Adaptive leadership takes the protective and defensive behaviors we have acquired as leaders and sets them aside in favor of a new openness to experience and discovery. As leaders, we are primed to be in the know as much and as often as possible. Adaptive leadership, however, means leading into areas where we do not necessarily have core training or expertise, where we learn alongside others. When that happens, we realize we can't lead from what we know any longer. This requires us to be open to others in a way we may not have had to be in a while - and that can be both scary and fulfilling. In other words, we must build true humility into our leadership style if we hope to lead for the long term.


The fourth posture in leading organizational change is to engage in the orientations and practices of an adaptive leader. Ultimately, these boil down to listening, helping, and learning. Listening, because we actively engage to truly hear what is going on. Actively, we play back what we hear, making sure we understand another's perspective. We help, coming alongside rather than working from above, behind, or in front. We learn, since adaptive leadership requires that we discover what the problem really is before we try to discover what solutions might emerge.


These four postures help us have the stance we need to lead change in our organizations. This doesn't necessarily make leading change easy - adaptive changes are inherently complex - but this stance does make it more possible. What change are you leading (or preparing to lead) today?

e-mail me

Read More ›

Topics: adaptive change, adaptive leadership, executive learning

Culture Eats Strategy

Posted by Matthew Thomas

By Ron Mahurin, Senior Consultant

This post originally appeared here.

Ron_Mahurin_square_500-300x300-818264-edited(Yet Strategy – and Process – Still Matter)

There is some debate as to whether the late Peter Drucker actually ever said: “culture will eat strategy for breakfast, every time.” The phrase does not appear in any of the 35+ books he wrote. In any case, the phrase has become an oft-cited expression in the organizational change literature.

So what is organizational culture? What about our institutional cultures make it so difficult to navigate and make the changes that are required in today’s competitive landscape?

Organizational Culture

Organizational Culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in the organization and dictate how they dress, act, and perform their jobs. Every organization develops and maintains a unique culture, which provides guidelines and boundaries for the behavior of the members of the organization.

In higher education, organizational cultures are shaped by our history, location, our constituent groups, our community relationships, and so much more. In particular, the fierce independence of higher education, the norms of shared governance, the place and role of tenure mean that our ability to respond to and enact changes are exceedingly complex.

While leadership teams focus on strategic priorities and institutional goals, ignoring your culture and the role that informal power plays is a serious mistake. Positional leadership (read: title) is important, but we all know of individuals (and occasionally small groups) whether it be on our board, among the faculty and staff, alumni and donor, and even students who can exercise power both to the good and to the detriment of the organization.

Can we change our culture?

Should we even bother?

In conversations with presidents, board members, senior administrative leaders and faculty and staff, I’ve observed how eager people are to talk about the necessity of addressing institutional cultural issues. Not surprisingly, people understand and define their institution’s culture in a wide variety of ways.

Often, the conversation turns to how difficult that process of cultural change may be. I often find a degree of despair, a belief that there isn’t much that can be done to address change. In my judgment, that kind of response is frequently rooted in negative experiences in the past or a fear of the unknown. There is that unspoken conviction that this kind of work takes too much time and it won’t make a difference in the end.

Shifting our attention as leaders to working on questions of culture requires discipline, commitment, and a willingness to look outside the institution for help. When working on strategic issues, the temptation will likely be to push these larger cultural issues to the side, hoping that if we meet our strategic goals and objectives, these issues will largely resolve themselves.

Questions to Consider:

What is our organizational culture? How do we develop our strategies and resources to shape that culture in ways that strengthen the institution?

Don’t procrastinate. Don’t assume that the tension will go away on its own. There’s too much at stake.

To hope for change without truly identifying and addressing culture will almost certainly mean that Drucker was right:

Your strategic goals and tactical objectives will be eaten by that culture.

Interested in talking more?

Let’s start a conversation together.

Ron Mahurin

Read More ›

Topics: process consulting

Senior Design Partner

Posted by Matthew Thomas

Subscribe to  Sustainable Vision

matthew-thomas-2.jpgI am pleased to announce that after nearly six years as a Senior Consultant with Design Group International, I have now become a Partner in the company. 

I am grateful for the invitation from the other Senior Design Partners to join them in their work, and excited for the opportunity. I am grateful to my clients, past and current, for the trust and the ongoing learning I have enjoyed with you. 

For now, my practice is remaining largely as it has been:

  • working at the connection points between vision and implementation;
  • working to help organizations and their leaders get, understand, and act upon good data - whether financial or qualitative;
  • helping leaders analyze, strategize, and model their businesses for healthy decision-making;
  • working from a heart for doing good while doing well - with businesses, non-profits, and religious institutions;
  • and strengthening the overall capacity of our company network. 

Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now!Design Group International continues to be a firm committed to helping organizations and their leaders transform for a vibrant future. I am glad to be a part of that work!

If you are curious about the work we do, and how we do it, I would be happy to speak with you - via e-mail, phone, or in person. Feel free to e-mail me or call 1.877.771.3330 x20. For more about the work I do regularly, including the software certifications I hold, check out my Consultant Page. 

Here's to the transformative power of new beginnings!

Read More ›

Topics: Matthew Thomas, Design Group International

Values Reflections Show a Variety of Opportunities

Posted by Matthew Thomas

matthew-thomas-2.jpgOver the past few weeks, I have been having a lot of conversations with people about a wide variety of business and organizational opportunities. Today, as I thought about those conversations, I am amazed at how our values drive us to so many opportunities and possibilities.

A few examples:

  • I spent much of this past weekend in the company of the alumni of my high school alma mater, many of whom have gone on to do some pretty amazing things. Many of them explicitly express the desire to "make the world a better place." This has led some into journalism, medicine, engineering, and economics; others into humanities and social advocacy. Over the past year, this same desire blossomed into creating an alumni association for the school, for the first time in its nearly 100-year history.Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now!
  • I discussed succession planning with a business owner, and saw his passion for his field coming out as we discussed how best to hand off his business so that it could still impact the community positively after he has stepped out of it.
  • I heard from several people seeking to fulfill their vocation, and wondering whether process consulting was the way to go about that. 
  • A higher education institution has a vision for its community - not just people in its degree programs. This vision is poised for significant impact!

Our values might all sound similar on the surface - for instance, community impact. Nevertheless, our organizational and leadership context sends us down diverse paths. Refining and focusing our vision, mission, values and principles is an essential part of organizational and leadership health. 

(Related: Leadership - Doing Good while Doing Well)

But it doesn't stop there: that refinement of vision, mission, values and principles translates into strategic themes, specific initiative projects and the metrics of success. When we can do that successfully, the opportunities are incredibly varied. When we do that, we can transform our organizations (and ourselves as leaders) for a vibrant future.




The TAD software from AdaQuest provides a software framework to assess current organizational state, support strategic planning, and then implement the plan through high-level initiatives and specific projects. TAD strengthens the consultative process by giving the organization the means to carry projects forward without having to embed consultants quite so deeply in day-to-day operations.

How can I find out more?

As a TAD-Certified Consultant and member of the TAD Partner program, I can walk you through a demonstration of the software and work with you to see if TAD would be a good fit for your organization or project. Feel free to call 1.877.771.3330 x20 or e-mail me . If you would like to see more about the software directly from adaQuest, visit

Read More ›

Topics: core values, Matthew Thomas

Multiple Variables and Business Analysis

Posted by Matthew Thomas

Subscribe to  Sustainable Vision

matthew-thomas-2.jpgWorking in a system with multiple variables and specific limiting constraints is something most of us do every day without even thinking about it. Or if we think about these variables and constraints, we don't think of them as such. Two examples:

  1. As my toddler son is experiencing these days, it takes somewhere around 200 muscles to be coordinated, timed, and balanced just right just to walk. Keeping balance and coordination while moving forward is quite a feat, when you think about it.
  2. Driving a car. Just think about how many distinct actions a driver must take to back a car out of a driveway. Pretty overwhelming, huh? The actuaries at your auto insurance company think so, too.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now!Organizational systems are typically bound by constraints on three variables when doing anything from strategic planning to value delivery. These three variables are Time, Personnel, and Money. Other variables include raw materials, the size of market, geography, and scope of operations. In order to assist enterprises as they plan and grow, we find it is helpful to measure the variables under which they are operating.

(Related: Managing Multi-Thread Strategic Complexity)

The TAD software we have available can help leaders plan according to the major variables of Time, Personnel, and Money to determine efficiency for strategic themes and initiatives. This can help with prioritization and phasing so that the beat use of resources is achieved. Time, Personnel, and Money often represent the other variables, or can be derived from the other variables, so that is one of the reasons they are at the core of most operations.

In the screenshot below, a company has measured its various projects against its budget, and is showing that its work still lines up with its most efficient approach to operations. 


The other variables, with their constraints, can be integrated into the overall strategic process, from thinking through action and on into delivery. The logistics of getting materials to the right place, in the right market, at the right price are all related to the core variables - and determine whether a business will succeed or fail.

We often hear that "you get what you measure." That is very true. Measuring the right things, and measuring the right things relative to the other right things - now that takes effort. We can help with that effort - through the TAD process and through our overall business analysis services.

How can I find out more?

As a TAD-Certified Consultant and member of the TAD Partner program, I can walk you through a demonstration of the software and work with you to see if TAD would be a good fit for your organization or project. Feel free to call 1.877.771.3330 x20 or e-mail me to find out more about TAD or our Business Analysis services. If you would like to see more about the software directly from adaQuest, visit

Read More ›

Topics: business plan, Matthew Thomas, business model, business analysis

Integrating Change Management

Posted by Matthew Thomas

Subscribe to  Sustainable Vision

matthew-thomas-2.jpgOur customers tomorrow aren't probably going to be the ones we have today; the ones we have today aren't a whole lot like the ones we had yesterday. A disruptive technology enters the market. Social attitudes about one issue or another shift suddenly. A presidential election plays the ends off against the middle. A new regulation comes in to force. Shifts in markets cause the price of materials to skyrocket. Drought hits a major ethanol producing state and drives the cost of gasoline sky high.

 Plato and other ancient philosophers reflected their societies' view of change: that what was old was valuable, what is new is less so. These days, we have a tendency toward the opposite attitude: that the new and innovative is the best.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now!The strongest organizations build environmental analysis into their change management strategy. Change might be something we complain about - especially when we benefit from the status quo. But change is no longer something we can avoid in any one of the six major environmental areas of interest.

As part of the TAD process, we have the opportunity to gather PESTLE Data (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental Data). This can come is as part of the overall preparation for strategy-making in the THINK phase of TAD, typically, although it can happen in any phase. This sort of information helps tremendously to get us out of our assumptions and our "organizational bubble" and back to data from which we can make clear(er)-headed decisions. As we do, change management becomes more integrated with our overall organizational dynamic. So instead of change management itself being a disruptive force, it becomes part of the core operations to drive the overall enterprise.

How can I find out more?

As a TAD-Certified Consultant and member of the TAD Partner program, I can walk you through a demonstration of the software and work with you to see if TAD would be a good fit for your organization or project. Feel free to call 1.877.771.3330 x20 or e-mail me. If you would like to see more about the software directly from adaQuest, visit

Read More ›

Topics: Matthew Thomas, Change Management