Posted in Learning programs

Core skills for senior directors

Learning designed specifically for senior directors to strengthen capacity for implementing strategy and leading change

Senior directors are on the frontlines of getting plans to work yet often say they feel surrounded by ambiguity. We take into account the unique circumstances of managing, leading, and following at the same time.

Strategies and plans are about what to do — our focus is on how to go about it:

  • Identifying hidden obstacles to progress and what to do
  • Communicating in a way that connects with others
  • Collaborating with peers
  • Holding meetings people want to attend
  • Having difficult conversations
  • Creating proposals and presentations that stand out
  • Leading staff in other locations
  • Implementing when you disagree with the plan
  • Achieving outcomes by influence


Participants leave with practical knowledge they can be put to use right away.


  • Groups of 6, 8, or 12 people for 1.5 days + 1 day followup
  • Option to do one-on-one by video call or phone over 12 weeks
  • Either at your location or offsite
  • We work internationally
Posted in Learning programs

Adaptive strategy for senior directors

When there are lots of people in the mix, the way ahead keeps changing all the time

These learning sessions focus on ways to increase personal effectiveness for senior directors leading sensitive or significant change.

Our work concentrates on adaptive strategy, preparing you to consciously and skillfully adjust to emerging events. Topics include:

  • Creating a vision everyone can see for themselves
  • Mapping both the external and internal terrains
  • Checking for change readiness
  • Differentiating between technical and adaptive issues
  • Creating conditions to speed adoption
  • Recalibrating as circumstances evolve
  • Communicating in a way that connects
  • Achieving outcomes that will last over time


Topics are weighted and adapted to suit individual objectives and situations. Participants receive a foundation in adaptive strategy concepts with just-in-time practicality. Combining principles and practice reinforces learning and strengthens the projects at hand.


  • Group sessions are at your location, or offsite close-by, over 2 days
  • Option for one-on-one sessions by video call or phone – 60-90 minutes per session over 8-12 weeks
  • We work internationally
Posted in Our news

Welcome, Alan!

Please join us in welcoming our new colleague, Alan Sunderland.

Alan is the former Editorial Director of the ABC, Australia’s largest public broadcaster, where he had overall responsibility for developing and maintaining appropriate editorial standards across the organizations entire output of programming on radio, television, online and mobile. He created and delivered ethical training to journalists and oversaw the investigation and management of public complaints about the broadcaster.

He is a journalist, author and editorial consultant with more than forty years’ experience in public interest journalism. He also is the author of seven works of children’s fiction.

Alan deepens our capacity to apply ethics as the new strategy for organizations in next decade. He has considered hundreds of real-world ethical challengers and, from his base in Sydney, he will add global context as businesses, customers, and audiences continue to become more international.

We’re thrilled to have him aboard.

Posted in Our news – ‘a head start on the next disruption’

Our new companion site,, tracks advances in artificial intelligence and how they apply to the practice of journalism. We want journalists everywhere to have a head start on the next disruption.

We offer an independent look at the capabilities, limitations, and influences of AI as they apply to journalism — part what to look for, part ‘look at this.’ We follow the whole conversation, daily, from news reports around the world, commentary in leading periodicals, recommendations in reports, ideas from industry panels, talks, books, or academic articles, through to findings in research labs that may influence events ahead.

We track developments in four areasAI in the newsroom, AI advances, ethics, and impacts on journalistic trust. The site is international in scope and updated often. There is a primer on AI fundamentals and a blog.

See We also offer briefings in artificial intelligence and news practices.

Posted in Change projects

Transformative change

When changing outcomes means changing culture, the dots need to connect all the time

Transformative change takes continual adapting: to new opportunities, new obstacles, new perceptions, and unintended consequences. Clear communication is essential. Critical thinkers can be quick critics when they don’t know enough about what’s going on around them.

We’ve managed transformative change and seen it through to successful conclusion. We’ve been there when things went wrong and, from it, we’ve learned how to identify the warning signs and keep the process on track.

Our experience is that it takes more than incentives, a coalition, and quick wins. Those can help, but alone they leave too much potential for backslides, reversions, and workarounds. Extra steps are needed to achieve change that sustains over time.


  • Project design
  • Facilitation of sessions at key stages
  • Training programs tailored by circumstances
  • Either direct project leadership or guidance to in-house leaders
  • Progress reporting at regular intervals
  • Additional components determined by situation
Posted in Our news

Our new colleague

Esther Enkin is known across Canada for her work as CBC’s Ombudsman from 2012 to 2018.

Around the world, she is more likely known simply as Esther. She is the past president of the Organization of News Ombudsmen and Standards Editors, an international non-profit organization with members on every continent except Antarctica. The ONO brings together news ombudsmen, reader’s representatives, and standards editors from many of the world’s leading news organizations and acts as a forum to protect and enhance quality journalism.

While the CBC Ombudsman, she formally reviewed nearly 400 audience enquiries, and for each provided written findings based on journalistic ethics. She also was a guest lecturer at journalism schools about ethics, accountability, trust, and the impact of social media on journalism and journalistic ethics. Before becoming Ombudsman, Esther led a comprehensive update of CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices code, including new provisions for digital publishing and social media.

Through her involvement with the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, she was one of the creators of Mind-Set, a guide to mental health reporting for journalists. The Guide is used in many newsroom and is a resource in schools of journalism across Canada. On top of her work responsibilities, Esther is a volunteer leader in community organizations.

We’re thrilled she is becoming our colleague.

Ethics is the new strategy. Esther’s extensive background in practical applications of ethics is a natural fit with our experience-based approach to continuous change, learning, and strategy support. Over the weeks ahead we’ll describe new offers about applying ethics in organizations.   

For now, a brief pause as we salute Esther and welcome her aboard.

Posted in Strategy support

Program reviews

Better practices today become the best practices of tomorrow

We help teams identify what they can do better. The focus is 100% practical: things to keep, things to lose, what to try, what can be improved.

We focus on ideas that can happen in 3 days, 30 days, and 3 months. The result is an action plan everyone can get behin and measure. We nudge for new and encourage learning by experimentation.

Sessions typically are 1/2 day or 1 day. Some objectives may involve multiple sessions or multiple groups.

Think of the times people say, ”someday, when we have a moment…”? These sessions create that moment. Afterward, things move faster.


  • Design and prepare session(s)
  • Facilitate the group
  • Prepare and provide a written report of outcomes. The report can be used afterwards by the group as an ongoing reference and checklist for implementation.
  • Review report with commissioning manager(s)
Posted in Learning programs

Essential AI concepts for news leaders

Understand the AI terrain ahead

These briefings are for news executives and senior editors looking to deepen their understanding of artificial intelligence in order to plan next steps. Participants will acquire a working knowledge of the concepts and language of AI systems. We will cover:

  • Uses, prospects, limitations, ethical implications, and effects on the competitive landscape.
  • Ways to assess emerging developments and what to look for
  • How to weigh uses of AI now or in the future and tactics for how to begin
  • Considerations for reporting AI as a story

Issues will be current to the week, focusing on real practices. The briefings are by Andrew Cochran, former head of strategy at CBC News in Canada and editor of, the leading online resource tracking developments in AI and journalism.


Algorithms are being used to gather news, present news, look for news, and help prepare news. Some AI machines are supplying tips or transcription or rapid research, freeing-up capacity by taking on tedious tasks and delivering help on demand. Others are preparing templated stories ready for publishing, often in seconds. Some are challenging verification with deep fakes, video made up by AI models that show authority figures saying false things, while others are simulating network TV personalities as ‘virtual anchors’ delivering the news.


Future systems may create a renaissance in journalism, surfacing facts previously unobtainable, making stories more relevant for audiences, speeding and handling routine coverage so well that human storytellers can spend more time on human stories.

At the same time, algorithmic ability could challenge traditional ideas of journalistic authority, upending legal and ethical foundations and changing the dynamics of competitive advantage. It could equal or exceed the scale of the last disruption, known as ‘the crisis.’

Either way, news practices with AI will influence how news work is done and who does what. Change can be expected in:

  • workflows
  • recruiting
  • standards & ethics
  • training
  • the speed of reporting
  • new relationships between storytellers and technologists
  • new ways of storytelling and new kinds of stories to tell

Four modules

We break down the material into manageable chunks. The sessions are in four modules. Used consecutively, they create the basis for an action plan. As stand alones, they provide just-in-time learning.

  1. Fundamentals of how AI works – concepts, terminology, how to critically assess emerging developments
  2. Practices with AI in newsrooms – present uses in gathering and presentation, the force multiplier effect, choices whether to augment or replace, decisions to build or buy, implications for recruiting and workflows
  3. Possibilities and perils of algorithms – identifying and using datasets, knowing algorithmic bias, understanding appreciation of algorithm results, implications for standards and ethics, tactics to increase accountability
  4. Practical steps forward – tactical components for an action plan


  • Modules are tailored to organizational circumstances
  • Sessions can be at your location or we can arrange for an offsite nearby
  • Option for one-on-one briefings by video call or phone over a series of weeks
  • We work internationally

Note: this is not a course about coding, nor about data journalism, and instead about concepts and influences of AI as they apply to news organizations

Bookings available for October 2019 and beyond


Posted in Strategy support

Needs assessment

The experts in an organization walk in the door every day

Observations and ideas from staff are highly relevant because come from everyday practice. Listening for what can be done better identifies course corrections that can make a difference right away. It also surfaces high-value practices that are important to preserve in the midst of change.

Our work is to identify solutions, of any size, in a series of conversations, either one-on-one or in groups. We help people detach from their next-hour needs so they can think of the bigger picture. All comments are unattributed.

Often small things can make a big difference. Big ideas emerge, too. Either way, the results add from-the-floor validity to a plan that’s in development or speed-up an implementation that’s underway.


  • Conduct interviews with staff members, and if desired, external stakeholders
  • Facilitate one or more group sessions (if required)
  • Provide written findings with recommendations 
  • Present report to commissioning manager(s)
Posted in Strategy support

Strategy frameworks

We convert ideas into plans

A strategy framework creates the basis for action plans that move an organization ahead. We canvas the necessary people, gather the available ideas, and bring together the essentials in a form that can be clearly communicated.

A strategy framework includes:

  • Rationale
  • Vision
  • Parameters for change
  • Success measures
  • Timeline for implementation
  • Next steps 


  • Research from materials and discussions with key staff
  • First draft (text or deck or both)
  • Second draft (text or deck or both)
  • Third draft (ready for use)
Posted in Applied ethics

Working with codes of ethics & codes of practice

Codes increase certainty no matter the volatility or unknowns ahead

Codes provide a fixed point of reference when facing new situations, a ‘North Star’ for navigating in uncertainty and ‘bright lines’ not to be crossed. For example, organizations working with artificial intelligence are using codes to create guardrails for research, development, and deployment.

It’s a way an organization says here’s what we stand for and here’s how we go about it. There may be an extra piece: here’s what you can do if you think we’ve fallen short, a means to raise concerns if it seems promises haven’t been met. A best practice is showing resolved complaints and how the process worked.

The net effect reduces uncertainty and increases trust. With it comes greater loyalty to the organization and its aims.

  • Codes of practice typically lay out specific do’s and don’ts. There may be codes for the whole company, for senior teams, or even participants in standing meetings. Sometimes, they’re for specialized units, for example, newsrooms within a larger media company.

  • Codes of ethics express values and aspirations. Instead of specifics of what to do, a code of ethics describes how to approach what to do.

  • Some places have one or the other, others have both. For example, a code of practice may begin with underlying ethical principles.

Codes are dynamic. Expectations and standards may change, perhaps from recent events, or findings in law, or emerging possibilities. Another best practice is re-visiting existing provisions to see if they need to be refreshed. A measure of corporate governance may be periodic checks that codes are being followed and reflect the current operating environment.


  • Developing new codes of practice or codes of ethics
  • Refreshing legacy codes to reflect new practices or circumstances
  • Auditing existing codes to provide governance assurance
  • Delivering workshops for staff about new/updated code provisions and how they can be applied
  • Briefing senior management or boards about matters arising from codes
Posted in Strategy support

Overcoming resistance to change

Change projects too often end up like a new year’s resolution

A few months after a big launch, momentum fizzles and backsliding begins. Eventually, familiar ways regain their hold. The majority of change projects end up this way.

Change that lasts over time requires more than an action plan, resolve and ‘quick wins.’ The best of intentions can be overpowered by deep-seated beliefs that reside naturally in all of us. Some may form an immunity to change, a human phenomenon discovered by psychologists Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, both Harvard professors. Their methods are used around the world and form the core of these workshops. 


  • Workshop arrangements and facilitation
  • Participants identify factors that may be conflicting with change sustaining over time
  • Participants leave with a personal plan for change readiness
  • Delivery to groups up to 30, leadership teams, or individuals
Posted in Change projects

Goal-directed change

Getting from one process to the next takes constant navigation

Similarities to a journey are apt. There can be slowdowns, obstacles, detours, and people wanting to know, ‘are we there yet’? There even can be ‘weather’, events elsewhere in the organization or the environment that influence how much progress can be made at any given time.

A fixed plan of where you want to go is still valuable but requires deviations and course corrections. Forcing a change to stay on track simply because it was planned that way, or ‘that’s where we need to be by now,’ is counterproductive.

We’ve implemented many changes projects, large and small, and have seen them through to a successful conclusion.


  • Project design
  • Facilitation of sessions at key stages
  • Training programs, as required
  • Either direct project leadership or guidance to in-house leadership
  • Progress reporting at regular intervals
  • Additional components determined by situation

Posted in Change projects

Transformation re-starts

The longer a transformation stays idle, the harder it is to get going again

Projects sometimes can use a pause to recharge, but stopping too long squanders the groundwork already invested. It slows getting to the opportunities anticipated in the original plan. It reduces chances for success in the next change project.

Regaining momentum requires a concerted effort. Missteps reinforce resistance, retrenchment, and the negativity that may have already put the project in park. The way forward needs to be clearly and universally communicated until traction is assured.

We get things moving again, either advising from the sidelines or in a front-line role. We draw experience in prior instances, including changes in presentation and formats, shifts in workplaces and workflows, and implementing new operating priorities.

We begin with where things stand without dwelling on ‘what went wrong’. We focus on practical steps forward.


  • Project design
  • Facilitation of sessions at key stages
  • Training programs, as required
  • Guidance to management or direct project leadership
  • Progress reporting at regular intervals
  • Additional components determined by situation
Posted in Strategy support

Facilitating senior teams

We help senior teams figure out next moves

Our role is to be an objective third party, unconnected to previous positions and free of any assumptions. A neutral discussion leader is especially helpful when:

  • Setting new directions, priorities, and targets
  • Building alignment on an initiative or theme
  • Determining and framing changes/reductions
  • Working through sensitive issues

We’ve been part of senior teams and know the dynamics. We prod for clarity, consensus, and measurability. We work toward tangible outcomes the team can get behind.


  • Session design and preparation (including venue details)
  • Facilitation of session
  • Debrief with commissioning manger(s)
  • Written report/summary, as needed
Posted in Strategy support

Facilitating groups

Groupthink works against breakthroughs

Too often a good idea dies too soon from ‘been there done that’ comments, or fails to thrive because everyone is seeing the same horizon from the same vantage point. Effective brainstorming is about seeing things in different ways. In an organization, it can be achieved by putting together people from different specialties or departments, of various ages, from assorted cultures, individuals who have different stakes in the future.

We construct ‘diagonal groups’, a format we’ve developed to generate fresh thinking in a short period of time. It’s like having a number of focus groups running simultaneously to:

  • Identify issues and ideas at the start of a project 
  • Validate plans shortly before implementation 
  • Build engagement and ease implementation


  • Session design and preparation
  • Facilitation of session(s)
  • Written report of findings
  • Review findings with commissioning manager(s)