Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Do you care what outsiders think?

Include all stakeholders in your planning process and infuse your 
organization with collaborative energy.

Leaders are recognizing the value of inclusive planning as a way to build community, both internal and external. They realize that long-range plans rely on support from external as well as internal constituencies.

ODDA offers proven strategies for managing people and data that will lead organizations to create a plan that is not only solid, but also flexible enough to respond to future challenges. We do this by:  
  • Collecting data from a broad range of constituency groups
  • Breaking down institutional barriers
  • Capturing the benefits of community engagement  
These strategies can also build engagement, improve interdepartmental communications and cross-functional collaboration, and strengthen external partnerships. The benefits of an inclusive process will extend beyond the life of the strategic plan.

A Case Study in Collaboration and Community: A Major Regional Museum Develops a New Long-Range Plan

A major regional museum came to ODDA seeking assistance with its new long-range plan. Under the previous five-year plan, it had seen successful expansion of programming; now it was time to identify opportunities to build on its past successes.

Planning the Process

From the beginning, Museum leadership intended to use an inclusive, collaborative strategic planning process. They sought to bring renewed attention to the institution's position and grow the sense of responsibility within the community. ODDA worked with the leadership team to design a planning process that would achieve these goals.

Inviting Input from External Stakeholders

Graphic: keyhole illustrationThe public kick-off of the strategic planning process invited Museum stakeholders: management, staff, volunteers, Board of Trustees, and community partners to generate ideas and form planning teams. The teams explored creative approaches to education, interpretation and technology and collected input from a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. ODDA provided guidance as the planning teams crafted viable strategic initiatives and developed implementation plans that retained and expanded planning and analysis activities already in place. Energy generated by the sense of community at the public kick-off fueled the long hours and hard work contributed by members of the planning teams.


This strategic planning process required participants to work across institutional boundaries: directors, curators, trustees and community members all worked together. The initiatives and activities defined in the strategic plan rely on continued collaboration among these groups for success. For the museum, outcomes of the inclusive process included improved interdepartmental communication and cross-functional collaboration within the museum as well as stronger external partnerships and community engagement -- benefits that will last beyond the life of the long-range plan.

The Major Phases of the Inclusive Planning Process 
  1. Public Kick-Off: Generate Ideas
  2. Planing Team Meeting: Select Strategic Themes
  3. Strategic Initiative Teams: Develop Initiatives 
  4. Writing Committee: Write Plan Draft 
  5. Gain Commitment from Community and Board
  6. Train in Roll-Out and Use of Plan
  7. Follow-Up (6-Month and 12-Month)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Management Muddle: As a trainer, how can I help supervisors in an environment where they are expected to perform miracles?

I am providing training to supervisors who work in an environment where they are expected to perform miracles with outdated equipment and products that routinely do not meet specs. On top of that, their leaders are more focused on making a name for themselves and getting promoted to another assignment. To make matters worse, HR does not properly manage FMLA compliance, so 20% of the workforce is absent each day. The guidance I have given these supervisors is to focus on what they can control, and to try their best to forge connections with their staff in order to retain the best employees. What other suggestions can you offer?

Muddled Manager

Dear Muddled Manager:

As a trainer, you want your trainees to have all the resources they need to put their newly-minted skills to use, and it sounds as if the supervisors you work with are short on the necessities. It’s times like these when the serenity prayer doubles as a management philosophy: "Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

In this case, making the most of the resources the supervisors do have should be the top priority. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
  • Establish tracking systems. The supervisors can start by building robust yet simple systems for tracking the work of their staff, even if it means using Excel spreadsheets. By implementing a system that aids staff members in carefully documenting each step of every project, the supervisors can more easily introduce new people to projects that are underway. This will be essential to maintaining high productivity in an environment where the staff are coming and going with some frequency.
  • Set productivity targets: The supervisors can also work with their staff to set targets for productivity and track those in a way that encourages everyone to reach the goals. The supervisors might have to be creative in their rewards systems, but shared goals offer a great deal of intrinsic rewards.
  • Implement cross-training: Another management tool that might help with the lost productivity and lost knowledge of high turnover is cross-training. Can your supervisors create buddy systems so that staff are cross-trained and the cross-trained teams work to ensure that the team’s knowledge is always present?
  • Conduct exit interviews: A short exit interview with each staff member as he or she rotates out — even if the absence will be for only a few weeks — will allow the supervisors to keep close tabs on work that might otherwise fall through the cracks and learn more about what is driving staff behavior.
  • Build a case for upgraded resources: The supervisors would also be wise to spend some time now building a case for the upgraded resources they urgently need. A vague sense of what will improve their work is not enough; encourage your trainees to make a plan for employing new equipment and implementing new technologies that includes educated estimates of the increased productivity that would result from these improvements. Quantifying the potential outcomes is essential. It sounds like the current leadership is results-oriented and competitive, so outlining the unrealized potential of the workforce may be the best way to relate your trainees’ priorities to those of their superiors. Though they may not have it now, there may well come a time when the mid-level supervisors will have the ear of their organization’s leaders and when that time comes they will be well-served by being prepared with a data-driven, practical plan for improvement.
While a dose of serenity will certainly aid your trainees in weathering their current leadership, you — as a trusted voice from outside the fray — have the opportunity to impart the wisdom and courage that will help your trainees remain serene as they navigate a difficult situation. Good luck!

Martha Jurczak, Associate, ODDA
Laura Freebairn-Smith, Principal, ODDA

Some suggestions for further reading include:

"Managing Your Boss," J. Gabarro and John P. Kotter, Harvard Business Review, January 2005.

"Managing Employee Turnover," William J. Wasmuth and Stanley W. Davis, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, February 1983, vol. 23, no. 4, pages 15-22.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

View our new online video about our Abundance Leadership 4-Day Immersion program

View our new online video, where the program leaders introduce you to our Abundance Leadership programs:

Interested in learning more about the Abundance Leadership 4-Day Immersion program?

April 26 - Abundance Leadership Overview Webinar

Join us for our upcoming interactive Abundance Leadership webinar. The program leaders, Laura Freebairn-Smith, Principal of Organizational Design & Development Associates, and Anthony Panos, Principal of Performance Training, Inc. will introduce the Abundance Leadership model and explain how application of this model can help you to maximize your leadership impact and organizational performance.

There is no charge to attend the webinar but registration is required. Invite your colleagues!

> Register for the webinar
> Visit our website for more information
> Contact the program leaders

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Curious about our Abundance Leadership 4-Day Immersion program?

Join us for a complimentary live interactive webinar on April 26th, 3-4pm. For more information, visit our website.

Abundance Leadership 4-Day Immersion in Napa Valley, California

June 18-21, 2012

Join our team of experts and special guests for an engaging and challenging four-day journey set amidst the natural beauty of Napa Valley, California.

Learn to:

  • Identify key indicators of organizational health
  • Lead your work team to increased productivity
  • Become a leader who attracts and inspires top performers
  • Explore techniques to apply your upgraded leadership competencies -- and make them stick
  • Draft an action plan to tackle organizational weaknesses and leverage opportunities
For more information, visit our website at, call us at (203) 288-6688 or email Itanza at

Is your boss an Abundance or Scarcity Leader?