Monthly Archive: September 2013

We Go Through the Change Curve Too!

You would think that we here at Whiteboard Consulting Group, being pretty good (if we do say so ourselves) at Change Management and Transformation, would never have any trouble with change or transformation ourselves.

Not so, actually.

We recently ate a bit of crow and admitted we were a little stubborn when we refused to accept that our logo could use some sprucing up.

First, a Little History

Our website and logo were created early in 2012 by a young up-and-coming designer, and we were (and are still) thrilled with what he did for us. He designed everything from scratch, based only on our rough sketch and (sometimes flip-flopping) requests. The artwork, colours, fonts – everything was very “us” and we loved it!

As our clientele grew and our focus changed, it became clear we needed to spruce up the look and functionality of the website, and this summer we finally bit the bullet to get it done.

A Change is Gonna Do You Good

Enter Kobayashi Online and their creative team. They did an amazing job modernizing our website and adding functionality we didn’t have before. And they also updated our logo.

Here’s the old logo:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 2.26.31 PM





Here’s the new one:





You can see the new one is a little more whimsical (which is what we strive for – see Nicole’s blog here on that topic), and looks more like handwriting on a whiteboard. We absolutely love it.

At First We Hated the Idea

Our conversations with Kobayashi’s Art Director, Martin Finesilver, went something like this:

M: You should really let me take a stab at modernizing your logo.

Us: No thanks. We like our logo.

M: I could help make it fit the new site better, make it crisper…

Us: No thanks. It won’t work and we don’t need it.

M: But I…

Us: Look, if you want to try, go ahead. But we won’t like it. We like the one we have.

M: Sigh. Ok.

Fast forward a couple of months, and Kobayashi is sending us concepts. We opened the files with some dread, thinking, what have they done to our logo?

First reaction? “It’s weird.”

Second reaction? “It’s kind of interesting.”

Third reaction? (After really taking the time to look at the site and understand the new design) “It’s pretty awesome.”

The Change Curve

The point of this story is to stress that everyone goes through a series of reactions when going through a major change (or even some minor ones). The Change Curve shows us that a phase of Denial (“It won’t work”) is quickly followed by Anger (“What have they done to our logo”), and then the voice of reason kicks in and Exploration takes over (It’s kind of interesting.”) Finally, Acceptance (“It’s pretty awesome.”)

change curve

People who are generally open to change and fairly resilient can go through these phases fairly quickly, zipping right from Disbelief to Acceptance. Others may take a lot longer, and even get stuck in Disbelief or Anger.

The key is to recognize how you (or someone on your team) is handling a change, and to coach accordingly.

Disbelief –>provide information

Anger –> listen more than you talk

Exploration –> encourage and provide more information and opportunities

Acceptance –> reward and recognize

Nicole and I went through these phases relatively quickly because we are fairly resilient (and because we have absolute faith in Brent Kobayashi and his team). We also did a little bit of peer-to-peer coaching when we discussed the new logo, and that always makes things easier.

In the end, it was a great experience, and looking back it was a healthy reminder that we too, go through the change curve. Just like you.

Do you have a change curve experience? Give us a shout via Twitter@whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

Until next week,


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Segue (or Segway) from Bad Busy to Good Busy

Welcome to our first blog on the new website!

How do you like it?  A couple of weeks ago I told you it would be a “website mullet” – whimsy in the front and corporate in the back.  If you love our website, then Click to Tweet! Many thanks to the awesome team at Kobayashi Online for their hard work and creative design – they really do make online friendly!


We’re just on our way back from Chicago where we delivered a presentation on “Instilling a Process Improvement Culture Through Coaching” at the Quality Expo.

We had a blast presenting and met a great bunch of quality geeks just like us!  Everyone talked about how busy they were, and how they wanted to implement coaching as part of their quality initiatives, but it was hard because they are TOO BUSY. It made me think of a Visa advertisement that I heard last week that talked about “Good Busy” versus “Bad Busy”.  They have great examples and their pitch is “When you’re in control of your cash flow you can focus on the work you love; you know, good busy. That means making more money, being more strategic, and doing better things for your clients or customers (check it out here).  I loved it. This concept has come across the proverbial desk here at Whiteboard Worldwide Headquarters in a number of ways.

Good Busy vs. Bad Busy: What’s the difference?

The first time this concept “clicked” for me was in Tim Ferriss’ The 4 Hour Workweek.  He highlights how so many of us spend all day reading and responding to emails, instead of working on the big strategic objectives that give us value in an organization.  Why? Because responding to emails is easy, and instantly satisfying. Doing the big work is hard. If you want to change, however, you can’t keep doing what you’ve always done!

That segues to one of our clients, who said one of my favourite phrases of all time (and which we have since mentioned often in our blog): “I’m addicted to firefighting”.  I thought this was brilliant.  He was addicted to the drama, addicted to high speed reactionary problem solving. Organizations love to create and resolve these “problems” every day. It feels good to solve a problem. It provides instant satisfaction. It has instant results and outcomes. It’s so much more fun than discovering and building a relationship with a new (or old) team member, giving constructive feedback, or having a difficult (yet important) conversation on performance of a team member. Those things are hard and unpleasant, but are so necessary to achieve something like operational excellence.

So which is which?

 Good Busy

Value added activities (anything that adds value to your customer)

  • Interacting and meeting with clients
  • Production of your product or delivery of your service
  • Work for client paying activities (ie. Deliverables for a client)
  • Selling your product to your customer

Bad Busy

Non-value added activities (i.e. internal administration)

  • Internal email administration
  • Payroll
  • Doing quality control on your product
  • Time spent on advertising
  • Time spent on shipping of raw materials to produce your produce

DISCLAIMER:  Sometimes using value added vs. non-value added makes people say – well “Payroll IS value added?  How would I run my business”. Don’t get tied up in the semantics. Rule of thumb for identifying non-value added steps: any activity that doesn’t improve the form, fit or function of the product. Think of things like inspection, testing, re-work, set-up, movement of product (if it’s not direct to the client), etc

Tips to get “Good Busy”

We’re going to sound like a broken record, we’re sure you’ve heard them before – but practice makes perfect:

  1. Make a list. Number your activities based on priorities 1,2, and 3 (#1s Must get done today, #2s should get done, #3s can be rolled over to a subsequent day).  Start on your #1s (I guarantee they aren’t your favourites, you’ll be dying to do a#3)
  2. Tame the email beast. Turn off your email notifier AND set specific times a day to check and respond to email (doing email can be a reward for checking off a #1 from your list above).
  3. Improve your processes.  Are there bottlenecks? Do you have multiple approvals that don’t add value? Are there internal forms and paperwork that could be streamlined? What are you or your team doing that is making things BUSY without adding value?

The key is to  focus your day on what makes your company or organization money and what adds value to your clients.  You and “Bob from Accounting” having a CYA machine gun email tete-a-tete does neither of the above (no matter how fun it may be to prove that you did in fact email him on October 2nd asking  that expense claim question).  To paraphrase that tagline from Visa, remember: “When you’re in control of your processes you can focus on the work you love, you know, good busy.” Click to Tweet

Have ideas about Good Busy and Bad Busy?  I’m sure Visa @VisaBiz_CA wants to hear them since it’s their ad campaign – so use the hashtag #goodbusy. And if you heard it first from us, tweet us too @whiteboardcons #betterfastercheaper.

Have a happy and productive week!


Perfuncta What?

Operational Definitions: Not a Perfunctory Exercise

We have a colleague whose favourite words these days is “perfunctory”, and he uses it frequently enough that I looked up the definition just to be sure I knew what it meant.

per-func-to-ry adjective \pər-ˈfəŋ(k)-t(ə-)rē\

  1. characterized by routine or superficiality
  2. lacking in interest or enthusiasm

That little exercise reminded me of how important it is to have common definitions at work. Never mind the embarassment of using a word incorrectly, which we’ve all done on occasion. (Well I have, anyway…) It’s about speaking the same language in the office, and avoiding any potential for misinterpretation and mistake.

My Definition is This (Bonus earworm for those who know that tune, for those who don’t, click here )

One of the things we are working on right now is a review of a PMO (Project Management Office) function in a large public sector organization. As part of any review, we conduct a number of interviews with various employees at all levels of the organization. And, as always, we find that people are working with differing levels of understanding of key operational terms, and that this is creating some confusion with respect to roles, responsibilities, and key outcomes.

Here’s a good example: what does performance management mean to you? Is it related to the work output and behaviours of an individual employee, and the ability of a manager to influence it positively?

No? Oh, well perhaps you feel it’s the use of key performance indicators to ensure that an organization meets its goals and targets in a timely manner.

Wait, what? You think it’s both?

If you look it up, even Wikipedia gives several definitions:

Performance management (PM) includes activities which ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner. Performance management can focus on the performance of an organization, a department, employee, or even the processes to build a product of service, as well as many other areas.
PM is also known as a process by which organizations align their resources, systems and employees to strategic objectives and priorities.
Performance management as referenced on this page in a broad term coined by Dr. Aubrey Daniels in the late 1970s to describe a technology (i.e. science imbedded in applications methods) for managing both behavior and results, two critical elements of what is known as performance.

If you’re working on a culture shift in your organization, then a great exercise involves getting groups of people together in a room and having work in small groups to define key terms. For instance, for a PMO conversation, you might have people define: Project, Charter, Project Manager, Process Owner, Project Sponsor, Communication Plan, Risk Mitigation Plan, etc. Here’s the trick: there’s usually no right answer. Just pick the one that works for most people, and stick with it! If everyone is speaking the same language, you’ll save so much confusion and time.

And there’s nothing perfunctory about that.

Give us a shout via Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Until next week,