White papers | decks | frameworks

We crystallize ideas and plans so they can be clearly communicated.

We canvas the necessary people, gather the available ideas, and workup position papers, supporting briefs, presentation decks, and keynote speeches. For example:

  • The rationale for a change process
  • Making a case for amendments to policy or funding 
  • Advocating a point of view in public forums 
  • Building consensus with a contentious issue
  • On-going practices to make improvements 


  • 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)


  • Varies by situation
Posted in ETHICS

Developing & updating codes

Codes help organizations meet what’s ahead.

Most places have certain ways of doing things and standards they wish to maintain. A code puts that in writing. It presents ways to respond as circumstances emerge. It makes expectations clear to everyone, both inside and outside the organization.

A code tells people the standards of service they can expect. Often, a code will include a means to complain if it seems like promises haven’t been met, together with an explicit process for reviewing complaints. It’s a way an organization says here’s what we intend to do, and here’s what you can do if you think we’ve fallen short. A best practice is presenting complaints that have been resolved and how the process worked.

The net effect increases trust. With it can come greater loyalty to the organization.

  • Codes of practice typically lay out specific do’s and don’ts that apply to the work of the organization. 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. Or they may preface a code of practice with its underlying ethical principles.

Codes are dynamic documents. Expectations and standards may change, perhaps from recent events, or findings in law, or new possibilities. For example, a growing number of organizations working with artificial intelligence have recently developed codes to guide their research and new products.

We’re accustomed to using codes in day-to-day operations:

  • Developing new codes of practice or codes of ethics
  • Refreshing existing codes to reflect new practices or circumstances
  • 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, acting as a trusted third party

DELIVERABLES: Determined by project

TIMING: Determined by project


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. As principals of Minds At Work, Kegan and Lahey have developed a framework to identify hidden factors that are creating resistance to change. Their methods are used around the world. 

We help people see their own ‘change immune system’, based on our training with Minds at Work.

TAKEAWAY Participants quickly see factors that may be conflicting with change sustaining over time. They leave with a personal plan for change readiness.

TIMING Especially helpful when starting a transformation or re-setting a transformation that’s stalled.

INTENDED FOR  Individuals  |  Leadership/creative teams 


Getting from here to there

Managing change 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 tim.

Our experience is that effective change management requires more than incentives, building a coalition, and quick wins. Those can help, but we’ve seen that sustainable change comes after four additional pieces are in place:

  • Before starting: determining change readiness
  • While underway: looking for weak signals and making course corrections accordingly
  • From start to finish: keeping a constant focus on the external environment
  • From before starting and lasting after the main part is done:over-communicating with staff

It takes constant adaptation. Individuals and circumstances change, too. The map of where you want to go is still valuable but requires deviations and course corrections all along the route. Forcing a change to stay on track simply because it was planned that way is counterproductive. Knowing the tolerance for change before starting takes the guesswork out of any adjustments.

We’ve implemented many changes projects, large and small, and seen them through to a successful conclusion. We suggest a reasonable period be built-in before any change project gets underway. The overall time to a positive outcome likely stays the same, but more time upfront means the process can proceed more quickly.


  • Project design and validation
  • Change readiness assessment
  • Facilitation of sessions at key stages
  • Issues management
  • Identification or design of training programs as required
  • Guidance to management or direct project leadership, as warranted
  • Progress reporting at regular intervals or by milestones, or both


  • 3 – 18 months
  • The high degree of variability is influenced by the project scope and by emerging circumstances


Transformation re-starts

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

Stopping part-way through squanders the groundwork already invested. It denies opportunities anticipated in the original plan. Stopping also reduces the 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 have several prior instances to draw upon, including changes in presentation and formats, substantial shifts in workplaces and workflows, and implementing new operating priorities.

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


  • Resumption of transformation in a way that will sustain over time
  • Step-by-step advice or direct project management, as situations warrant


  • 3 – 12 months
  • High degree of variability, influenced by the project scope and by emerging circumstances

Listening for better

The experts in an organization walk in the door every day.

Their observations and ideas are highly relevant because they are grounded in everyday practice. Talking with them and listening for what can be done better identifies course corrections that make a difference. It also surfaces high-value practices that are important to preserve in the midst of change.

Our focus is on identifying solutions, of any size, in a series of conversations, either one-on-one or in groups. We help people detach from next-hour needs and 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)


  • Typically completed within 2-4 weeks
  • Varies by the numbers of people involved and their availability
Posted in LEARNING

Doing strategy in real-time

A strategy is no longer something you set every few years. In complex environments, it needs to adapt as circumstances change.

THESE 1×1 LEARNING SESSIONS are for leaders who are preparing or managing a strategy that involves sensitive or significant organizational change. In personalized one-on-one sessions, we go over experienced-based methods, tailor them to individual needs, and focus on ways to increase personal effectiveness.

Our work concentrates on adaptive strategy, preparing you to consciously and skillfully adjust to emerging factors. 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 will be 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.


  • When preparing or managing a strategy
  • Sessions are by phone or video call


  • 60-90 minutes per session over 8-12 weeks
  • Varies by individual preference

Diagonal brainstorming

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 facilitate ‘diagonals’, 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. 

These sessions:

  • 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)


  • Sessions are either a half-day or full day
  • Key variables are the scope of the project and size of the group