Monthly Archive: February 2016

How to get that one task FINALLY done!

Procrastinating sucks for everyone

You’ve got one.  Your spouse has one.  Heck, despite Ruth’s diligence for to-do list’s – I think even she has one.

That one task on your  list that you just never do.

For a while you move it to the next day’s To-Do list.  But eventually you just take it off of the list.  Why? Maybe you’ve convinced tumblr_mzzztwwCmJ1qg0vpco1_1280yourself you’ll never get it done?  Maybe the shame of not completing it every day is making you crazy. Are you scared of the outcome? Do you just hate the task? Is it going to take too long? You have terrible time-management skills? Whatever it is, it’s not a good feeling.

For me, it happened when Ruth and I had made a sales target.  And one of my lead measures (if you don’t know what those are, click here) was to do some warm market networking. There was one particular individual whom I had met 4 years ago on vacation, that I wanted to talk to about our coaching course and some process improvement and other things.  And for 1 WHOLE year it was on my list.

A colleague of mine who does Sales training asked if she could connect me with anyone, and we realized we had this mutual contact, and even then I just wouldn’t let it happen. I know that sounds weird.  But I just didn’t follow up on it.  I didn’t know why at the time, I just didn’t. *


So I had the opportunity to become a certified coach this past weekend.  I thought the course was interesting, applicable to a bunch of different types of coaching, and the teacher was fabulous (click here to find out more)!

To be completely honest, it took me a little out of my comfort zone, the methodology was different, the tools were new to me – however- I was willing to try. So, be open to getting your task done and let me know if it works! It requires a little bit of imagination!

4 Steps to Getting UNSTUCK

1. Write down your goal

  • call the contact by Mar 29, 2016,
  • plan the event by April 6, 2016,
  • start the business plan by April 25, 2016,
  • get a website, draft an e-book….whatever you get the point. Just be sure to put a specific date on it: What day in March?

2. Fast forward to your goal date. Imagine you achieved that goal. Write down three obstacles that(might have) got in your way.

  • time,
  • fear of making the call, fear of not getting called back, fear of someone thinking I was being “sales-ey”.
  • wanting to get it “perfect” etc.

3. What solutions did you employ to remove the obstacle?

  • I blocked time in my calendar,
  • I got some extra coaching to prepare for the call,
  • I got an accountability partner to help keep me on track,
  • I used a panel of advisors to make sure I got it right….etc

4. How do you feel now that you did it?

  • Great!
  • It’s finally off my list!
  • Awesome, the client signed with me, I feel successful!
  • people love it, I feel accomplished!
  • we had 98% attendance at the event, I feel so proud!

5.  What do you know now that you’ve achieved the goal, that you didn’t know then?

  • I can absolutely do this.
  • I’m so glad I did this now, the timing was PERFECT.
  • It’s not that hard/time consuming.
  • If I put my mind to something I can totally do it.
  • If I have someone keeping me accountable I can get it done.
  • Great things come from biting the bullet and just doing it!

How does that feel?

Different? Are you motivated in a different way? I was. Let me now how it goes for you @whiteboardcons #getunstuck.

*Note: Guess who was sitting next to me when I sat down at the coaching course?  That one contact I was supposed to call.  Coincidence? Stars aligning? Who knows.

Until Next Time,


The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Process

Glazed & Confused

When Ruth and I talk about what we do (in case you are new, teaching and facilitating teams undergoing change, specifically using process improvement tools), we tend to get one of three responses:


Glazed & Confused.

1.  A glazed over and confused look, followed by “That’s nice!”.

2.  I love process!!!! [Insert riveting story about how they have improved their processes]. I/We/I know someone who SO needs you guys. [insert dorky six sigma and lean lingo here]

*Note #2 is our favourite client! Or, our personal favourite…

3. Oh ew. I hate process.

Ruth and I, being the masters of the open-ended question, usually follow up #3 with, “Oh really? Tell me more about that!”.  The responses are varied, ranging from having a poor experience to just plain weird.

Top 3 reasons people THINK they don’t like process.

  1. Process is too bureaucratic, we need to be CREATIVE.  Ok. I know
    images (1)

    Process Kitty

    at first glance, processes seem to lock you in to a singular way of doing things.  In reality, by preventing yourself (or your team, or clients) from re-inventing the wheel for every simple task, you can focus your time and effort on the value add parts, and that’s where you can be creative.  Also, mapping a process isn’t something that is carved in stone?  Great process improvements have a strategy built in to monitor, assess, and update on a regular basis -there’s always room to be flexible.

  2. Oh, that’s for big companies, not an solo-preneur like me. Process is best described as how you do what you do. Even if you are a sole proprietor, you at some point have to interact with someone else in your organization or the client themselves to deliver your product or service. Do you consistently get what you need, when you need it, in the form and format you need it, from your client? Unless one or both of you are clairvoyant, there must be some “conscious intervention”, and that conscious intervention is process.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  It’s a process, it’s a process, it’s a process!! Everything is a process, and if you want to grow your business, take on more clients, and surprise and delight your clients, be efficient, and effective – you need to look at how you do what you do. With a critical eye.
  3. Process stuff is super expensive, I couldn’t afford it. Okay, this one isn’t weird. It can be true.  The big guys charge big per-diems to come in, ask alot of questions about a business they aren’t familiar with, and then send you home with some binders and reports full of charts and diagrams and arrows.  What if you could learn the basics of process improvement, pair it with your expertise, and make real dramatic change?

Unglaze your face.

The secret is out.  Process isn’t that hard.  GASP.  It’s quite simple really.  A few tools from the bible of process improvement (Lean Six Sigma), some post it notes, and a marker – and I think you can already start to make some change.

My gift to you is an old blog that will get you started, and then if you want to know more, see how we can teach your teams to THINK LIKE CONSULTANTS.  Save money, be amazing, all that jazz.

Let us know how it goes @whiteboardcons #processisntthathard.

Until Next Time,


The Process of Managing Change

This week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Lisa Chicules, a brand and strategy expert, for her radio show “Chat With Chicules” on the Voice America Radio Network. Lisa is a real expert and leader in her field, unearthing the brand potential for organizations of all shapes and sizes. One of my favourite quotes of hers is “uncover the right insight and don’t stop until it’s brilliant.” She may not know it, but with thoughts like that, she’s not only a brand expert, but also a process thinker!

Needless to say I was both honoured and excited to be on her show. It was a first for me – talking isn’t a problem, but having a big shiny microphone in front of you is a whole different ballgame. We had a blast, and I really enjoyed our topic: The Process of Managing Change. (You can listen to it by clicking here.)

Because everything is a process, right?

Right. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we believe a process is a process is a process, whether you are making a martini, filling out your tax forms, or implementing a major new project or change initiative in the office.

And yet, as Lisa pointed out, so many organizations struggle with the process side of change. They focus on the “Big Shiny Goal” and forget about all the little things that go in to making that goal successful. “Why is that?” Lisa wondered.

Well, frankly, it’s because the Big Shiny Goal is more fun. It’s sexier, it’s what gets noticed, and it’s where a lot of Senior Leaders spend their time and energy. Then when they’ve developed this latest and greatest thing, they pass on their idea to someone else, say “Make It So,” and then move on – you guessed it – to the next Big Shiny Goal.

The problem is that “Make It So” doesn’t even begin to convey all the information required by an implementation team to make the Big Shiny Goal a reality. As it turns out, there’s quite a bit of context required in order to support the process (yes, process) of managing the implementation (or change) effectively.

John P. Kotter, business guru and best-selling author, developed a model that shows the 8 Steps of effective Change Management. Thankfully, I’m only going to focus on the first one because in my humble opinion, it’s the most important.


The first step in our process is to create a sense of urgency. In other words, provide the context that is SO STRONG, that people will understand the reason for the change and why it has to happen right now. They may not love it, but they’ll get it.

For instance: let’s say you have to move your office to a new location. There are two ways you can announce this to the team:

  • The usual way: “Hey everyone, in three months we will be moving to a new office location on the other side of town. Now before you get excited, let me tell you how amazing this new building is – first of all, it’s all floor to ceiling windows, so it will be really bright and you’ll all have a window seat. Secondly it has a fully equipped kitchen, a Starbucks in the lobby, and gym membership is included. And finally, the elevators are all brand new so you won’t have to wait for ages like you do in this ancient old building. Ha ha ha. Isn’t this great?

What they hear: “Hey everyone, in three months we will be moving to a new office location on the other side of town. That’s right, an extra 30 minutes commute for you, and a completely different location from your wife. You may even have to get a second car. And you know your kid’s daycare that’s right across the street now? You probably won’t be able to pick them up by the 6pm cutoff any more. Oh and one more thing, there is no public transit, and it’s $6/day to park.”

You see, people don’t hear benefits right after a change announcement. They are overwhelmed by the impacts on their personal lives, and they they start to think – what the heck are they doing this for? This is awful!

Now let’s try to re-frame using the “hot problem / cool solution” concept, in which we state a problem that EVERYONE wants to avoid, and then provide the solution. This creates a sense of urgency that people can buy in to.

  • The better way: “Hey everyone, we have a fairly urgent issue to deal with, and I want to share it with you and tell you what we’ve come up with. As you know, budgets are being cut, and we’ve had to come up with $1.2 million in cost savings over the next three years. As you can imagine, there are a few ways to do this and we’ve been trying to figure out the way that will have the least impact on this team. In order to keep this team and its operations whole, we are going to have to move to a different office on the other side of town. I know this is going to have an impact on some of you, and I want to discuss it with each of you personally and see if we can come up with a solution.

Only then is it ok to start talking about benefits.

The second step in our process involves setting metrics so that people know if they are winning. Stephen Covey’s The Four Disciplines of Execution talks about the need to have a scorecard that is displayed in a public place so that everyone knows if they are meeting their goals. It sounds simple, yet so many organizations miss this piece and fail to set their goals in a measurable way at the beginning of the change or strategic implementation.

What are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? Note the word KEY. If you have more than 5-7 KPIs in your organization, then they are not the key metrics. Do you have a big spreadsheet with 20+ measures that are tracked regularly and reported to a large group?

Yes? Well that’s too many.

Many operational areas must track dozens of measures. That’s normal. But don’t call them Key Performance Indicators and share them with the whole organization – it’s not relevant, eyes gloss over, and the important story is lost.

Business analytics is all about telling the story, helping people understand what they are measuring, whether they are winning (on track), and if not, what some possible root causes may be. It is imperative that these metrics are set out at the beginning of any implementation.

Finally, the third process step I discussed with Lisa was effective communication. If you have ever participated in an employee engagement survey, then you know that communication is almost always in the top 3 things to improve. Why is that? Why can we never get it right?


I believe that too many of us communicate with others in the way that WE like to be communicated to. That is – I like eMails, so I send eMails to everyone and think I’ve done an awesome job communicating.

The problem is, many people don’t read those emails, so I haven’t communicated with them at all.

But that’s their fault, right? Shouldn’t they have just read the emails?

Yes. And by saying so, I’d be right. I’d also be really ineffective.

The great leader considers the people to whom he/she must communicate – all their differences in language style, medium preference, and even cultural concerns – and adjusts their communication accordingly. It might mean an email to some, a phone call to others, and even a quick face-to-face with a few others. It may seem like a waste of time, but it really isn’t.

Easy peasy, right?

Well maybe not. This is an awful lot to think about, even though it’s only three steps. And yet these things are absolutely essential in implementing a successful change. Miss out on any one of these things, and the best project plan in the world will not save you.


  1. Set up the right metrics at the outset.
  2. Use Change Management theory to ensure you have set the context.
  3. Communicate to be effective, not just right.

If you’d like to listen to the radio broadcast I did with Lisa on this topic, click here and it will take you right to the recording. You can also download it from iTunes as a podcast if you search “Chat with Chicules” and look for the episode on The Process of Managing Change.

Until next time,


Sometimes the Flavour of the Month is Chocolate. And It’s Good.


If you work for anyone other than yourself, you have probably lived this phrase in some way:

“Ugh – this new initiative is nothing other than the new flavour of the month. It’ll never stick and next year they’ll roll out something else.”

Sound familiar? These words have probably assaulted your ears (or crossed your lips), when the organization is trying with best intentions to make a change or an improvement. The person who is responsible for the change is excited about the initiative, and is frustrated beyond believe with this blasé response from the team.

So why do people say it?

First, a little Change Management theory for you – we know from Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross‘ work that people experience grief in an emotional roller coaster. When Kubler-Ross pioneered the concept of the 5 Stages of Grief, people became aware that grief impacts us all the same way and yet differently too.

In other words, we all go through the stages of Grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance), but we may go through them differently. Some may linger in one stage or another, and some may fly through a stage so quickly as to appear to bypass it. The way in which we go through these stages is greatly impacted by our personal resilience, the amount of stress we are dealing with at the moment, and our experiences with grief in the past.

The same is true with change. In fact, Kubler-Ross’ model has been adapted to create the Change Curve, used by Change Management experts, teachers, and coaches. There are several different variations of the curve itself, and we like this one the best:

change curve

You can see the similarity to the 5 Stages of Grief – in this model we have Denial, Anger, Exploration, and Acceptance.

Imagine then, an employee who is not only experiencing change at work, but also at home (spouse has been demoted, child has moved out, parent is ill). This employee, we’ll call him Rob, has been a good worker and has been around for about 15 years. You are Rob’s manager, and very excited about a new program to create a more efficient process for doing the work of Rob and the entire team. When you meet to discuss it, Rob breaks open the “Flavour of the Month” remark, and the team snickers.

This is because Rob has been around for a couple of business cycles. He’s seen change implemented, re-implemented, de-implemented, and implemented again. He’s tired and his resilience is low – he feels that change is a pendulum, and that people should just make up their damn minds and stick with something.

Well, here’s the thing…

The United States’ National Bureau of Economic Research states that since 1945 the average business cycle has been just less than six years. That length of time may also be impacted by your industry, budget issues, technology advancement, and general business trends.

So in other words, every few years the business world changes. And in order to be relevant in that world, an organization must change with it. The change the organization is implementing is probably the right thing, for right now. In a few years it may no longer be the right thing. So yeah. It might well be the flavour of the month, and there’s nothing wrong with that (unless an organization is making change for change’s sake – and that’s a whole different discussion.)

The trick is to implement the “new flavour” carefully, using change management best practices from the outset and communicating the “why and why now” message in the most effective way for the team.

If that’s all done correctly, then the answer to Rob is as easy as, “Yes Rob, it IS the flavour of the month. It’s chocolate. And it’s good.”

Until next time,