Tag Archives: coaching

Implementing Successful Transformation Initiatives for 2024

Implementing Successful Transformation Initiatives for 2024

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

Transformation and change initiatives are usually designed as strategic interventions, intending to advance an organization’s growth, deliver increased shareholder value, build competitive advantage, or improve speed and agility to respond to fast-changing industries.  These initiatives typically focus on improving efficiency, and productivity, resolving IT legacy and technological issues, encouraging innovation, or developing high-performance organizational cultures. Yet, according to research conducted over fifteen years by McKinsey & Co., shared in a recent article “Losing from day one: Why even successful transformations fall short” – Organizations have realized only 67 percent of the maximum financial benefits that their transformations could have achieved. By contrast, respondents at all other companies say they captured an average of only 37 percent of the potential benefit, and it’s all due to a lack of human skills, and their inability to adapt, innovate, and thrive in a decade of disruption.

Differences between success and failure

The survey results confirm that “there are no short­cuts to successful transformation and change initiatives. The main differentiator between success and failure was not whether an organization followed a specific subset of actions but rather how many actions it took throughout an organizational transformation’s life cycle” and actions taken by the people involved.

Capacity, confidence, and competence – human skills

What stands out is that thirty-five percent of the value lost occurs in the implementation phase, which involves the unproductive actions taken by the people involved.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) supports this in a recent article “How to Create a Transformation That Lasts” – “Transformations are inherently difficult, filled with compressed deadlines and limited resources. Executing them typically requires big changes in processes, product offerings, governance, structure, the operating model itself, and human behavior.

Reinforcing the need for organizations to invest in developing the deep human skills that embed transformation disciplines into business-as-usual structures, processes, and systems, and help shift the culture. Which depends on enhancing people’s capacity, confidence, and competence to implement the “annual business-planning processes and review cycles, from executive-level weekly briefings and monthly or quarterly reviews to individual performance dialogue” that delivers and embeds the desired changes, especially the cultural enablers.

Complex and difficult to navigate – key challenges

As a result of the impact of our VUCA/BANI world, coupled with the global pandemic, current global instability, and geopolitics, many people have had their focus stolen, and are still experiencing dissonance cognitively, emotionally, and viscerally.

This impacts their ability to take intelligent actions and the range of symptoms includes emotional overwhelm, cognitive overload, and change fatigue.

It seems that many people lack the capacity, confidence, and competence, to underpin their balance, well-being, and resilience, which resources their ability and GRIT to engage fully in transformation and change initiatives.

The new normal – restoring our humanity

At ImagineNation™ for the past four years, in our coaching and mentoring practice, we have spent more than 1000 hours partnering with leaders and managers around the world to support them in recovering and re-emerging from a range of uncomfortable, disabling, and disempowering feelings.

Some of these unresourceful states include loneliness, disconnection, a lack of belonging, and varying degrees of burnout, and have caused them to withdraw and, in some cases, even resist returning to the office, or to work generally.

It appears that this is the new normal we all have to deal with, knowing there is no playbook, to take us there because it involves restoring the essence of our humanity and deepening our human skills.

Taking a whole-person approach – develop human skills

By embracing a whole-person approach, in all transformation and change initiatives, that focuses on building people’s capacity, confidence, and competence, and that cultivates their well-being and resilience to:

  • Engage, empower, and enable them to collaborate in setting the targets, business plans, implementation, and follow-up necessary to ensure a successful transformation and change initiative.
  • Safely partner with them through their discomfort, anxiety, fear, and reactive responses.
  • Learn resourceful emotional states, traits, mindsets, behaviors, and human skills to embody, enact and execute the desired changes strategically and systemically.

By then slowing down, to pause, retreat and reflect, and choose to operate systemically and holistically, and cultivate the “deliberate calm” required to operate at the three different human levels outlined in the illustration below:

The Neurological Level – which most transformation and change initiatives fail to comprehend, connect to, and work with. Because people lack the focus, intention, and skills to help people collapse any unconscious RIGIDITY existing in their emotional, cognitive, and visceral states, which means they may be frozen, distracted, withdrawn, or aggressive as a result of their fears and anxiety.

You can build your capacity, confidence, and competence to operate at this level by accepting “what is”:

  • Paying attention and being present with whatever people are experiencing neurologically by attending, allowing, accepting, naming, and acknowledging whatever is going on for them, and by supporting and enabling them to rest, revitalize and recover in their unique way.
  • Operating from an open mind and an open heart and by being empathic and compassionate, in line with their fragility and vulnerability, being kind, appreciative, and considerate of their individual needs.
  • Being intentional in enabling them to become grounded, mindful conscious, and truly connected to what is really going on for them, and rebuild their positivity, optimism, and hope for the future.
  • Creating a collective holding space or container that gives them permission, safety, and trust to pull them towards the benefits and rewards of not knowing, unlearning, and being open to relearning new mental models.
  • Evoking new and multiple perspectives that will help them navigate uncertainty and complexity.

The Emotional Cognition Levels – which most transformation and change initiatives fail to take into account because people need to develop their PLASTICITY and flexibility in regulating and focusing their thoughts, feelings, and actions to adapt and be agile in a world of unknowns, and deliver the outcomes and results they want to have.

You can build your capacity, confidence, and competence to operate at this level by supporting them to open their hearts and minds:

  • Igniting their curiosity, imagination, and playfulness, introducing novel ideas, and allowing play and improvisation into their thinking processes, to allow time out to mind wander and wonder into new and unexplored territories.
  • Exposing, disrupting, and re-framing negative beliefs, ruminations, overthinking and catastrophizing patterns, imposter syndromes, fears of failure, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Evoking mindset shifts, embracing positivity and an optimistic focus on what might be a future possibility and opportunity.
  • Being empathic, compassionate, and appreciative, and engaging in self-care activities and well-being practices.

The Generative Level – which most transformation and change initiatives ignore, because they fail to develop the critical and creative thinking, and problem sensing and solving skills that are required to GENERATE the crucial elastic thinking and human skills that result in change, and innovation.

You can build your capacity, confidence, and competence to operate at this level by:

  • Creating a safe space to help people reason and make sense of the things occurring within, around, and outside of them.
  • Cultivating their emotional and cognitive agility, creative, critical, and associative thinking skills to challenge the status quo and think differently.
  • Developing behavioral flexibility to collaborate, being inclusive to maximize differences and diversity, and safe experimentation to close their knowing-doing gaps.
  • Taking small bets, giving people permission and safety to fail fast to learn quickly, be courageous, be both strategic and systemic in taking smart risks and intelligent actions.

Reigniting our humanity – unlocking human potential  

At the end of the day, we all know that we can’t solve the problem with the same thinking that created it. Yet, so many of us keep on trying to do that, by unconsciously defaulting into a business-as-usual linear thinking process when involved in setting up and implementing a transformation or change initiative.

Ai can only take us so far, because the defining trait of our species, is our human creativity, which is at the heart of all creative problem-solving endeavors, where innovation can be the engine of change, transformation, and growth, no matter what the context. According to Fei-Fei Li, Sequoia Professor of Computer Science at Stanford, and co-director of AI4All, a non-profit organization promoting diversity and inclusion in the field of AI.

“There’s nothing artificial about AI. It’s inspired by people, created by people, and most importantly it has an impact on people”.

  • Develop the human skills

When we have the capacity, confidence, and competence to reignite our humanity, we will unlock human potential, and stop producing results no one wants. By developing human skills that enable people to adapt, be resilient, agile, creative, and innovate, they will grow through disruption in ways that add value to the quality of people’s lives, that are appreciated and cherished, we can truly serve people, deliver profits and perhaps save the planet.

Find out more about our work at ImagineNation™

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, and can be customized as a bespoke corporate learning and coaching program for leadership and team development and change and culture transformation initiatives.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of September 2023

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of September 2023Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are September’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. The Malcolm Gladwell Trap — by Greg Satell
  2. Where People Go Wrong with Minimum Viable Products — by Greg Satell
  3. Our People Metrics Are Broken — by Mike Shipulski
  4. Why You Don’t Need An Innovation Portfolio — by Robyn Bolton
  5. Do you have a fixed or growth mindset? — by Stefan Lindegaard
  6. Building a Psychologically Safe Team — by David Burkus
  7. Customer Wants and Needs Not the Same — by Shep Hyken
  8. The Hard Problem of Consciousness is Not That Hard — by Geoffrey A. Moore
  9. Great Coaches Do These Things — by Mike Shipulski
  10. How Not to Get in Your Own Way — by Mike Shipulski

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in August that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last three years:

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Great Coaches Do These Things

Great Coaches Do These Things

GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski

Good coaches listen to you. They don’t judge, they just listen.

Good coaches continually study the game. They do it in private, but they study.

Good coaches tell you that you can do better, and that, too, they do in private.

Good coaches pick you up off the floor. They know that getting knocked over is part of the game.

Good coaches never scream at you, but they will cry with you.

Good coaches never stop being your coach. Never.

Good coaches learn from you, and the best ones tell you when that happens.

Good coaches don’t compromise. Ever.

Good coaches have played the game and have made mistakes. That’s why they’re good coaches.

Good coaches do what’s in your best interest, not theirs.

Good coaches are sometimes wrong, and the best ones tell you when that happens.

Good coaches don’t care what other people think of them, but they care deeply about you.

Good coaches are prepared to be misunderstood, though it’s not their preference.

Good coaches let you bump your head or smash your knee, but, otherwise, they keep you safe.

Good coaches earn your trust.

Good coaches always believe you and perfectly comfortable disagreeing with you at the same time.

Good coaches know it’s always your choice, and they know that’s how deep learning happens.

Good coaches stick with you, unless you don’t do your part.

Good coaches don’t want credit. They want you to grow.

Good coaches don’t have a script. They create a custom training plan based on your needs.

Good coaches simplify things when it’s time, unless it’s time to make things complicated.

Good coaches aren’t always positive, but they are always truthful.

Good coaches are generous with their time.

Good coaches make a difference.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Imagination versus Knowledge

Is imagination really more important?

Imagination versus Knowledge

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

Is imagination really more important than knowledge? How does imagination link to catalyzing collective innovation and unleashing corporate vitality?

When I did my research, I discovered that the answer is actually paradoxical!

Albert Einstein famously said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

Why is the answer so paradoxical?

According to a well-researched and scientific article “Einstein’s most famous quote is totally misunderstood” in BIGTHINK magazine, the author suggests that he’s really doing is encouraging people to look beyond the current, conservative frontiers of what we know and into the realm of what we’re compelled to explore next.

He describes that imagination, in Einstein’s mind, is shorthand for a thought experiment: to simulate the consequences of a theory in a regime that’s yet to be tested, where the imaginative predictions were all well-quantified far in advance of the observations/experiments.

  • Both knowledge and imagination

This means that for your imagination to take you to worthwhile places, you also need a strong foundation of knowledge of the subject to build your theory or idea.

This makes it a “both/and” paradox.

This means that you need both a deep knowledge of the subject or problem and a capacity to create, evolve and exploit mental models of things or situations that are often counterintuitive and counterfactual and don’t yet exist.

Doing this enables you to generate new lines of feeling and thinking, and to connect fields, problems, and ideas that others find unrelated. To ultimately inspire, and result in collective innovation.

How does this relate to innovation?

Most of us are already aware that companies increasingly need to innovate — across strategies, operations, offerings, and business models. Especially when business environments are experiencing a range of global and local crises, accelerating change and ongoing, relentless instability and uncertainty. Where many have become survival focused, and adopt a short-term reactive lens in attempts to restore “normality” and arrest a decline in long-term growth rates and competitiveness.

As well as arrest a serious decline in their corporate vitality.  Which is crucial for long-term success, growth, and sustainability. Yet some companies are unaware that imagination is upstream of innovation. Sadly lack the focus towards entering this critical realm and leveraging it to stimulate a capacity for collective innovation which is needed for corporate vitality to thrive.

Corporate vitality enables organizations to thrive

An organizational culture that embraces corporate vitality enables them to thrive, by knowing how to shape visionary strategies in the imagination age that enables it to:

  • Rebound and reinvent themselves, under pressure.
  • Ignite people’s imagination to co-create ideas.
  • Collaborate to accelerate collective innovation.
  • Deliver and accelerate growth in a VUCA/BANI.

Yet, according to research by the BCG Hendersen Institute in an article “Competing on Imagination”

“Big businesses often struggle to make use of imagination. They may try to make it a predictable process, and end up with routine and incrementalism. Or they may treat it like a magical power, celebrated in tales of great innovators, in the hope that good ideas will appear as needed. As companies grow, it becomes harder to be imaginative. Larger companies tend to focus on exploiting what they know and what originally gave them scale”.

What else inhibits the development of corporate vitality?

The BCG research also reveals that most companies don’t yet know how to ignite people’s imagination. Which is required to co-create ideas and collaborate.

Often because they usually lack the motivation, rigor, and knowledge required to:

  • Clarify, ignite, and activate imagination: what it means and how it works at either an individual or collective level.

Which restricts an ability to develop the capacity required to deviate from the norm and emerge creative insights and breakthroughs, invent, and innovate on a scale.

  • Strategically and systematically improve the individual and collective capacity to imagine: which keeps them stuck within their own spheres, and focuses on averages rather than on exceptions.

This also restricts individual and collective investment in creating free time and space for daydreaming, mind wandering, and meandering into the unknown.

  • Cultivate individual and collective imaginative capacity through social transmissions: that evoke new questions and provocative ideas.

Which keeps them restricted to the confines of their own, or current mental models, rigid role parameters, and focus on metrics and conventional short-term siloed approaches.

Ultimately inhibiting our capacity to alter our cognitive habits, allowing our minds to make new associations, develop, and experiment with new ideas.  That forms the foundations for cultivating a culture that catalyzes collective innovation and unleashes corporate vitality.

Taking a neurological approach

Research presented by Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and Dr Martin Seligman, in their recent book Tomorrow Mind enables us to take a neurological approach towards igniting people’s imagination – to arouse our curiosity and co-create ideas, that result in collective innovation.

  • Default Mode Network (DMN)

Stating that when we allow our minds to wander and daydream, our brain doesn’t just “power down.” Instead it “switches to a new mode of thinking, one so vital that it is our default – or the activity our brains jump to in every free moment” which specializes in two processes: imagining and planning.

This is known as our Default Mode Network (DMN). Which activates when we let our minds wander or drift into a daydream, to create spontaneous oscillations that allow us to observe novel thought streams and extract new patterns, generalizations, interpretations, and insights.

It is the place our best ideas come from.

  • Discovering what does not yet exist

In this realm, our minds break the bonds of space and time, blending memory and fantasy, creating an eternal cycle that dances between exploitation and exploration.

Allowing us to exploit our “knowns” and explore new possibilities by imagining scenes that differ radically from the actual past and the actual present, allowing us to discover and learn deeply about what does not yet exist.

What does this mean to organizations, leaders, and coaches?

  • Power of provocation

ImagineNation™ has pioneered innovation coaching by presenting The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, globally online for more than 10 years.  To teach the traits, mindsets, behaviors, and skills to ignite people’s imagination, based on our experience that consciousness, imagination, and curiosity are the precursors to both creativity and innovation.

Where consciousness contains the states and qualities of the mind, which is where our imagination is located, creativity is the process of bringing something new to the mind, and innovation is bringing the new to the world.

  • Being a disruptive provocateur

We teach participants to become “disruptive provocateurs” who know how to compassionately, creatively, and courageously create collective holding spaces.

That creates the permission, safe space, and trust for developing generative thinking processes that enable peoples to see and solve challenging problems that evoke and emerge new discoveries, and creative ideas and generate learning by:

  • Disrupting peoples’ habitual feelings and thought processes and comfort zones,
  • Co-creating the permission, safety, and trust to deviate and differ,
  • Space and time for elasticizing and stretching habitual thought processes.

Imagination can be provocative because it arouses scenes that differ radically from the actual past and the actual present. This allows us to discover and learn deeply about what does not yet exist. It enables us to focus on being intentional, in taking intelligent and right actions to solve the problem differently and develop corporate vitality.

  • Power of prospection

Developing the co-creative frequencies requires us to alter our cognitive habits, allowing our minds to make new associations, develop, and experiment with new ideas, and cultivate a culture that embraces corporate vitality. This involves the capacity to imagine alternate futures, and developing prospection skills – “the ability within each of us to think about the future and envision what’s possible.”

According to USA-based leading global coaching platform BetterUps’ Report on the Future Minded Leader:

“Imagining ourselves into alternate futures and evaluating them as a way to make decisions and guide present action is unique”.

These occupy at least one-quarter of our waking thoughts, and when it comes to imagining the future, we are at once both our most optimistic and pessimistic selves, which is, in essence, also contradictory. Because we can both project optimism about what is to come and make risk-averse decisions to build the foundations for envisioning a range of desirable and alternate futures.

  • Sparking corporate vitality

Building an “imagination machine” – an organization where the imagination of individuals work together is fully supported intentionally and by design involves creating space for our Default Mode Networks (DMN) to activate and lay the foundations for collective innovation by:

  • Creating space and time for reflection enables people to regain control of their attention and minds, and to allow spontaneous, generative mind wandering – by engaging in simple activities like walking, reading, bathing, exercising, and free writing.
  • Making it safe and permissible to regularly expose people to the unfamiliar and the unknown – by building their discomfort resilience, provoking and elasticizing their core and habitual thinking processes.
  • Coaching, teaching, and training people to view their worlds systemically, to wander and daydream at the edges of the social fields – to sense, perceive and emerge anomalies, and counterintuitive and counterfactual patterns and trends.
  • Coaching, teaching, and training people to safely disrupt and challenge their habitual mental models – by creating mindset flips and paradigm shifts, developing their curiosity, and enhancing their cognitive diversity and agility.
  • Introducing more playfulness into the working environment – by improvising, exploring, introducing business simulations, and learning events, as well as gamification, to generate insights, that saturate us with ideas that we can then incubate.

Imagination, collective innovation, and corporate vitality

When we combine a rigorous approach to expanding and applying both our knowledge and our imagination, we can co-create ideas, and innovate in ways that illuminate people’s hearts and minds.

By altering and elasticizing our cognitive habits, allowing our minds to make new associations and unlikely connections, we can develop, and experiment with new ideas, and cultivate a culture that leverages and scales collective innovation that unleashes real corporate vitality.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Kickstarting Change and Innovation in Uncertain Times

Kickstarting Change and Innovation in Uncertain Times

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our last article, we described why innovation is transformational, and why, at this moment in time, it is more important than ever to innovate. We stated that innovation-led growth is absolutely critical and that people need to be enabled and equipped to adapt, connect and collaborate in new ways to kickstart change in agile, constructive, equitable, and sustainable ways to innovate in uncertain times. Yet, our research and experience at ImagineNation™ over the past 10 years has revealed that many governments, communities, organizations, teams, and leaders, feel somewhat – but not very – confident in their readiness, competence, and capacity to change and innovate in a world of unknowns.

Six Strategies to Kickstart Change and Innovate in Uncertain Times

To help build this confidence we have identified six key strategies and the key first steps to help you focus your attention, kickstart change, and drive and execute your change and innovation initiatives, to survive, thrive, and flourish in uncertain times.

Strategy #1

Build change readiness and receptivity to survive and thrive in an uncertain world by:

  • Giving people permission and safety that allows them to accept and acknowledge the range of emotional reactions (fears), physical consequences (exhaustion), and work-life imbalances as a result of the imposed WFH environment.
  • Acknowledging how people are feeling helps them better re-balance, adapt, and become resilient by supporting them to develop a work-life balance to better connect with others, tolerate uncertainty to change, and innovate in uncertain times.
  • Challenging people’s habitual default patterns of remaining in the safety of their comfort zones, breaking habitual “business as usual” habits, inertia, and complacency.
  • Being empathic and compassionate with people’s anxieties, confusion, insecurity, and uncertainties about their futures at work, and supporting them through their personal conflicts.

Strategy #2

Allow, accept and ack knowledge people’s fears and struggles about change, help manage their anxiety, improve their productivity and attune them to the possibilities and potential opportunities in the current business environment by:

  • Providing individual and collective support to enable people to take back and refocus their attention, self-manage anxiety, and become grounded, mindful, and fully present, with self and with others.
  • Investing in time and money to enable people to unlearn, learn and relearn how to be change ready and change-receptive, and become adaptive to effectively facilitate successful business and digital transformation initiatives.
  • Helping people get familiar with the brain’s basic cognitive functions, and build the foundations to help get work done by regulating emotions, suppressing biases, switching tasks, solving complex problems, and thinking creatively.
  • Developing 21st-century skills to shift old mindsets, develop new behaviors and the reasoning, problem-solving, planning, and execution skills to initiate and sustain business, cultural and digital transformation initiatives to embed the changes and to innovate in uncertain times.
  • Developing the fundamental foresight and energizing vision to perceive innovation strategically and systemically, adopting an approach that is holistic, human, and technology-centered, to align, enable, and equip people to adapt and grow and to change and innovate in uncertain times.

Strategy #3

Make sense of innovation, and develop a common understanding and language as to what innovation means in a unique context by:

  • Developing an awareness that innovation is, in itself, a change process, and paradoxically requires rigorous and disciplined change management processes and a chaotic creative and collaborative interchange of ideas.
  • Clarifying an energizing and compelling “why” innovation is important to an overall “cause” developing a passionate purpose and a sense of urgency towards leveraging innovation to achieve long-term success, competitiveness, and growth.
  • Knowing how to both make connections and distinguish and leverage the differences between creativity, invention, and innovation.
  • Building the safety, permission, and trust that helps facilitate, educate and coach people to deal with the emotional consequences of failure, to reframe it as opportunities to encourage a culture of taking small bets to learn quickly.
  • Taking a disciplined and methodical approach to risk planning and management, that allows and encourages a culture of smart risk-taking to reduce risk adversity.
  • Creating a consistent and common understanding as to what innovation means in their unique government, community, social, organizational, leadership, or team context and creating an engaging and compelling narrative around it.

Strategy #4

Optimize the notion that innovation is transformational and leverage it as an overall energizing strategic and systemic alignment mechanism and set of processes to kickstart change by:

  • Improving engagement, energizing and maximizing people’s potential and intentionally cultivating their collective genius to learn how to execute and deliver deep change and innovate in uncertain times.
  • Aligning technological, processes and adopting a human-centered structure for change management to deliver business breakthroughs and digital transformation initiatives.
  • Breaking down silos and supporting people to collaborate; re-connect, re-energize and re-invent themselves in a disrupted world.
  • Maximizing differences and diversity that exist between people’s demographics, cultures, values, perspectives, knowledge, experiences, and skillsets to deliver their desired outcomes.
  • Learning and coaching people to adapt to survive and thrive by solving complex problems, uncertainty, instability, and trends that are constantly emerging.
  • Improving both customer centricity and the customers’ experience.
  • Building accountable, equitable, and sustainable business enterprises that people value, appreciate, and cherish.

Strategy #5

Challenge the status quo and conventional ways of perceiving innovation to unleash the possibilities and the opportunities and kickstart change that true innovation offers by:

  • Taking a strategic perspective in the longer term and the need for investment in innovation, rather than being reactive, and short-term profit-focused.
  • Developing an understanding of the different types of innovation and how they can be applied, including incremental, breakthrough, sustaining, and disruptive, depending on their strategic imperative and motivation for change, and not just focussing on making continuous and process improvements.
  • Improving trust in organizational boards and leadership decisions, reducing self-interest and eliminating corruption, and focussing on being in integrity to successfully empower people in change and innovate in uncertain times.

Strategy #6

Explore opportunities for measuring, benchmarking, and contextualizing the impact of innovation on business performance, leadership, executive team, and organizational ability to adapt, innovate and grow by:

  • Embracing new business models, developing leadership capabilities and collaborative competencies, capacities, and building people’s confidence to perceive their worlds differently, and with fresh eyes.
  • Letting go of “old” 20th century methods of diagnosing and assessing culture, based solely on the “nice to haves” rather than exploring the emerging “must haves” to enable people to survive and thrive by experimenting with new assessment tools like the OGI® and the GLI® to quantify and qualify current and potential strengths and weaknesses.
  • Using data to know what new mindsets, behaviors, and skills to embody and enact, differently to become future-fit and succeed in the 21st century, and accepting that some of these are “not nice”.
  • Cultivating an innovation culture to embed deep change, provide learning and coaching to evoke, provoke and create mindset shifts, behavior and systems changes, and radically new sets of artifacts and symbols.

Taking the first steps to change and innovate in 2023

Embracing a range of new and different strategic and systemic approaches governments, communities, organizations, teams, and leader organizations can successfully kickstart change and innovate in uncertain times.

By using this moment in time to choose to refuse to walk backward and sleepwalk through life, by simply committing to take the first baby steps in allowing and enabling people to pause, retreat, reflect and:

  • Recover from the effects of working mostly alone, from home, and online.
  • Re-balance work and home lives through reconnection and resolving loneliness and rebuilding a sense of belonging.
  • Know how to tolerate uncertainty and become resilient and adaptive.
  • Reimagine and refocus a more energizing, compelling, and sustainable future.
  • Reinvent themselves, their professions, business practices, and teams in meaningful and purposeful ways.

We can then confidently, meaningfully, and purposefully energetically engage and enroll people, mobilize and harness their collective genius, to innovate in uncertain times in ways that add value to the quality of people’s lives in ways they appreciate and cherish.

To kickstart changes that contribute effectively to global stability, security, connectedness, and sustainability in the current decade of transformation and disruption.

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus, human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique innovation context. Find out more about our products and tools.

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Reset and Reconnect to Increase our Connectedness

Reset and Reconnect to Increase our Connectedness

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In our second blog in the Reconnect and Reset series of three blogs, we stated that now is not the time to panic. Nor is it a time to languish from change fatigue, pain, and emotional lethargy. It is a significant moment in time to focus, rehabilitate, rebuild, repair, regrow and reset to increase our connectedness through linking human touchpoints that increase people-power in the fourth industrial revolution.

In the current environment, where chaos and order are constantly polarizing, it’s crucial to touch people with empathy, reignite their social skills, and enable them to become healthily self-compassionate and more self-caring to:

  • Patiently support, lead, manage, mentor, and coach them towards finding their own balance to flow with mitigating the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.
  • Take advantage of new technologies, networks, and ecosystems to re-engage and collaborate with others and with civil society in positive ways that contribute to the whole.
  • Do the good work that creates a more compelling, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future, that serves the common good.

The Landscape Has Changed and So Have the Solutions

As the fourth industrial revolution continues to implode, we need to zoom out and consider the bigger picture. Where a recent Harvard Review article What Will Management Look Like in the Next 100 Years?” states that we are entering an era, which is fundamentally transforming the way we operate. Which is defined by the disruptive growth in blockchain technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and other core digital capabilities.

All of which, in some way, is dependent on linking the key human touchpoints that increase people’s power and our connectedness.

  • An era of empathy

In the same article, management scholar Rita Gunther McGrath argued that management practices based on command and control, and expertise would ultimately make way for empathy.

Where work is centred around value creation conducted through networks and collaboration, that rely on increasing the connectedness between machines and humans rather than through rigid structures and relationships to thrive through increasing people-power in the fourth industrial revolution.

  • Capable of better

The Qualtrics 2022 Employee Experience Trends Report also states that the landscape has changed.  Where people are choosing to work flexibly, to work in the places that work best for them, and to take time for their own well-being, families, and friends.

Where people are demanding change because they care, about their leaders and their organizations, and want to be capable of developing better ideas; better innovations; and delivering better performances.

The report outlines the four things your people need you to know:

  1. There will be an exodus of leaders – and women will be the first out the door.
  2. People will demand better physical and digital workspaces.
  3. The lack of progress in diversity, inclusion, and belonging won’t be accepted.

People don’t want to become irrelevant, nor do they want their managers, leaders, and organizations to become irrelevant. People know that they can’t, and won’t go back to the old ways of doing things. People also know that they are already living in the new normal and that they need to start working there, too and to do that, we need to increase our connectedness.

Which is especially important for building people’s power and mitigating the challenges emerging in the fourth industrial revolution.

  • A transformative moment for employees and employers

Businessolver’s Eighth Annual Report on the State of Workplace Empathy describes how the pandemic has impacted on employees’ personal lives, the labor market, and the economy, and states that “we are living through a renegotiation of the social contract between employees and employers”.

Their data shows that amid the return to the office, fewer employees view their organizations as empathetic, and that workplace empathy has clear implications for employee well-being, talent retention, business results, and increases people-power:

  • About 70% of employees and HR professionals believe that empathetic organizations drive higher employee motivation.
  • While 94% of employees value flexible work hours as empathetic, the option is only offered in 38% of organizations.
  • 92% of CEOs say their response to returning to in-person work is satisfactory, compared to 78% of employees.
  • 82% of employees say their managers are empathetic, compared to 69% who say the same about their organization’s chief executive.

Yet, there seems to be a true lack of understanding, especially in the corporate sector, of what it means to be empathetic, and a shortage of time and energy to develop the mindsets, behaviors, and skills to practice it and make it a habit.

It is also a fundamental way of being to increase our connectedness and building peoples-power.

Make a Fundamental Choice to Increase our Connectedness

Even though each person is a distinct physical being, we are all connected to each other and to nature, not only through our language but also by having a deeper sense of being.

Human connectedness is a powerful human need that occurs when an individual is aware and actively engaged with another person, activity, object or environment, group, team, organization, or natural environment.

It results in a sense of well-being.

The concept is applied in psychology as a sensation or perception where a person does not operate as a single entity – we are all formed together to make another, individual unit, which is often described as wholeness.

Which is especially important for our well-being and people power in the face of the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.

Strategies for Developing Quality Connections

  • Be grounded, mindful and conscious

Being grounded and mindful enables people to become fully present to both themselves and to others. It is a generous gift to unconditionally bestow on others. Especially at this moment in time, where the pandemic-induced social isolation, has caused many people to become unconsciously and unintentionally self-absorbed.

There is an opening to become aware of, and to cultivate our attending and observing skillsets, to sense and see the signals people are sending, at the moment they are sending them. To help people identify the source of their issues to re-establish a sense of influence and control that reduces their autonomic nervous system reactions and help them restore their calmness.

This is the basis to increase our connectedness, by attuning and becoming empathetic as to what thoughts and feelings lay behind their behaviours and actions, with detachment, allowing and acceptance.

  • Be open-hearted and open-minded 

Being curious about what others are feeling and thinking, without evaluating, judging, and opposing what they are saying. By knowing how to listen deeply for openings and doorways that allow possibilities and opportunities to emerge, to generate great questions that clarify and confirm what is being both said and unsaid.

To support people by creating a safe and collective holding space, that reduces their automatic unconscious defensive responses.  To defuse situations by being empathic and humble and increase our connectedness by asking how you might help or support them, and gaining their permission and trust to do so.

Increase our connectedness through being vulnerable in offering options so they make the best choice for themselves, to reduce their dependence, help them identify and activate their circles of influence and control and sustain their autonomy.

  • Help people regenerate

Now is the moment in time to focus on building workforce capabilities and shifting mindsets for generating a successful culture or digital transformation initiative by harnessing, igniting, and mobilizing people’s motivation and collective intelligence and building people power.

It is crucial to acknowledge and leverage the impact of technology through increasing people-power by developing new mindsets, behaviors, skills, and new roles, which are already emerging as fast as other roles change.

Be willing to invest in the deep learning challenges that build people’s readiness and receptivity to change, so they can embrace rather than resist it, and be willing to unlearn, and relearn, differently, by collaborating with other people, leaders, teams, and organizations across the world.

Ultimately, it all depends on being daring and willing to increase our connectedness, through adapting, innovating, and collectively co-creating strategies, systems, structures that serve the common good, and contribute to the well-being of people, deliver profits and nurture a sustainable planet.

Find out more about our work at ImagineNation™

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus, human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and increase people-power, upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique context. Find out more about our products and tools.

This is the final in a series of three blogs on the theme of reconnecting and resetting, to create, invent and innovate in an increasingly chaotic world.

You can also check out the recording of our 45-minute masterclass, to discover new ways of re-connecting through the complexity and chaos of dis-connection to create, invent and innovate in the future! Find out more.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Reset and Reconnect to Transform your World

Reset and Reconnect to Transform your World

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

Our blog, Reset and Reconnect in a Chaotic World was the first in a series of three, on the theme of reconnecting and resetting, to create, invent and innovate in an increasingly chaotic world. In this blog, we described how we have opportunities, to focus on being kinder to both ourselves and to others we interact with. To help us shift our mental states to transition effectively through the shock and pain of the pandemic, and rehabilitate in ways that transform our worlds.

We also outlined the range of key reasons as to why it is critical to take personal responsibility for understanding, helping, and supporting those we depend upon, and who depend upon us, to respond in ways that are respectful and compassionate, creative and courageous.

That enables and empowers people to recover and rehabilitate from the shock and pain they are experiencing from their elevated levels of stress, discomfort, and anxiety, occurring in our relentlessly uncertain and chaotic environments, through allowing, accepting, and acknowledging where people are at – and that it’s OK to not be OK!

Neither a time to panic nor languish

Right now, it is neither a time to panic, stall nor to languish in the face of change fatigue and mental lethargy.

It is a time to shift from making binary (either/or) judgements towards making linear (both/and) judgements to re-think and create a mental state, that is open and receptive to emerging possibilities and embraces change in ways that are fair and inclusive.

To transform your world through:

  • Choosing a range of constructive and positive responses to the rising levels of global economic, civic, and social uncertainty and unrest in our own local environments.
  • Generously and kindly demonstrating care, respect, and appreciation for the value everyone brings, and by being collaborative, appreciative, helpful, and supportive.
  • Being unconditionally willing to take the “sacred pause” that allows ourselves, teams, organizations, and to reconnect and reset, through intentionally using constraints and developing a mental state that supports them to become adaptive, creative, inventive, and innovative.

Transforming your world involves co-creating a deeper sense of belonging and a more optimistic outlook, to enhance our collective intelligence toward discovering and navigating new ways of thriving, flourishing, and flowing in the face of ongoing disruption.

Integrating and balancing chaos and rigidity

Dr. Dan Siegal, in Mindsight, applies the emerging principles of interpersonal neurobiology to promote compassion, kindness, resilience, and well-being in our personal lives, our relationships, and our communities.

In our global coaching practice at ImagineNation™ we have observed that many of our clients are experiencing mental states that embody varying levels of discord, dissonance, and dis-order, which are deeply unconscious and are impacting them neurologically.

Dr. Dan Siegal states:

“At the heart of both interpersonal neurobiology and the mindsight approach is the concept of ‘integration’ which entails the linkage of different aspects of a system – whether they exist within a single person or a collection of individuals. Integration is seen as the essential mechanism of health as it promotes a flexible and adaptive way of being that is filled with vitality and creativity.

The ultimate outcome of integration is harmony. The absence of integration leads to chaos and rigidity—a finding that enables us to re-envision our understanding of mental disorders and how we can work together in the fields of mental health, education, and other disciplines, to create a healthier, more integrated world.”

We have seen a vast range of evidence of peoples’ internal and external, mental chaos, and self-imposed internal rigidity in many of our clients’ coaching sessions.

Knowing that when chaos and rigidity are prolonged – it creates unproductive or dysfunctional mental states and inflexible thought processing.

This makes people non-adaptive and mostly inflexible because their natural well-being is impaired (dis-order).

Our approach is to partner with clients to co-create a relationship, that supports and helps facilitate a set of more integrated mental states. This entails each person’s being respected for his or her autonomy and differentiated self through deep empathic communication, which creates the space and an opening for shifting mindsets and behaviors, to ultimately pull them towards a new possibility that may transform their world.

Allowing, accepting, and acknowledging

When we allow, accept, acknowledge and support people to recover and rehabilitate from the shock and pain they are experiencing as a result of recent global events and conflicts, including feelings of overwhelm, isolation, loneliness, and disconnection, we can enable them to initiate making these shifts.

According to Gallops Global Emotions 2022 Report – these are considered “negative emotions – the aggregate of the stress, sadness, anger, worry and physical pain that people feel every day” and have reached a new record in the history of their tracking.

Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallop stated in the report that their data reveals that unhappiness has been rising for more than a decade and that the world is also struggling from a silent pandemic – loneliness.

“Gallup finds that 330 million adults go at least two weeks without talking to a single friend or family member. And just because some people have friends, it doesn’t mean they have good friends. One‑fifth of all adults do not have a single person they can count on for help.”

No emotion or mental state is permanent!

It’s time to focus on exploring how to better help ourselves, our clients, people, and teams by paying deep attention and being intentional as to how we might experiment and collaborate, with three key steps, to make these shifts:

  1. Co-create relationships focused on supporting integration, by being respectful and empathic in all communications, to open space of possibility, and pull people towards what creative ideas and breakthroughs might transform their world.
  2. Artfully and masterfully generatively listen, inquire, question, and disagree, to evoke, provoke and create ideas for thinking and acting differently both today and in the future.
  3. Maximize people’s strengths, differences, and diversity, to sense, see and solve problems and be creative and inventive in delivering breakthrough ideas and innovative solutions that add value to the quality of people’s lives, in ways they appreciate and cherish.

Rehabilitate with intention

At the same time, paradoxically, extending options and choices that help them shift and transition through the shock and pain of the past two and half years.

Enabling and empowering people to rehabilitate, with intention rather than regret, adopting a systemic lens through:

  • Creating safe collective holding spaces, that embrace presence, empathy, and compassion.
  • Helping people get grounded, become mindful, and fully present, enables them to make quality connections, rebuild their confidence and recreate a sense of belonging.
  • Enabling, equipping, and empowering people with new mindsets, behaviors, and skills through unlearning, learning, and relearning so they can adapt, grow and be resourceful and resilient in the face of the range of emerging problems, opportunities, and challenges.
  • Amplifying people’s strengths, reinforcing positive emotions, mitigating and reducing the way they filter information to re-ignite their intrinsic motivation and re-engage them in what they can control, what care deeply about value, or need, to survive and thrive.

A decade of both transformation and disruption

As most of us are aware, we are currently experiencing a decade of both transformation and disruption, where chaos and order are constantly polarizing, making it imperative to support, mentor, and coach people to integrate and find their balance.

To help them become more flexible and open to being adaptive, and effectively “dance in dis-equilibrium” between the constant and consistent states of chaos and order.

To enable people to see themselves as the cause in actively unlearning and letting go of old mental models, unresourceful mental states, and thinking patterns, to reimagine and redesign how they work to transform their world and create a more compelling, inclusive, and sustainable future.

Find out more about our work at ImagineNation™

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus, human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique context. Find out more about our products and tools.

This is the second in a series of three blogs on the theme of reconnecting and resetting, to create, invent and innovate in an increasingly chaotic world.

You can also check out the recording of our 45-minute masterclass, to discover new ways of re-connecting through the complexity and chaos of dis-connection to create, invent and innovate in the future!

Image credit: Unsplash

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Reset and Reconnect in a Chaotic World

Reset and Reconnect in a Chaotic World

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

Meeting face to face, for a lovely lunch recently, with a coaching colleague, we were both shocked to discover how stressed and anxious we were feeling about being asked to deliver live workshops and face-to-face coaching to clients once again.

We shared how emotionally, mentally, and physically overwhelmed we felt, despite having decades of knowledge, experience, and skills in being able to deliver deep learning programs and face-to-face coaching sessions, about doing live gigs again! We also agreed, that despite the range of largely effective emotionally intelligent coping strategies we developed to help ourselves and our clients self-regulate, self-manage, to better adapt to the pandemic-imposed work-from-home restrictions that the past two and half years of working, alone, and in isolation, online, had taken its toll.

We acknowledged and accepted that we along with many of our clients were all suffering from elevated levels of stress, discomfort, and anxiety. We then agreed that it was time to focus on exploring how to better help ourselves and our clients reconnect and reset by enabling them to create states of well-being, emotional agility, and mental fitness, where they can feel good, can function well, and be effective and innovative in an increasingly chaotic world.

To seek new ways of enabling ourselves and our clients to deal effectively with a range of unresourceful feelings including helplessness, powerlessness, and fearfulness about an uncertain future. 

We noticed that these feelings often caused many of our clients to contract and freeze, and become immobilised as a result of what we describe as a “bubble” of self-induced silo-based behaviours. That often evolved into extreme self-centeredness, and unconscious selfishness, which ultimately increased their feelings of isolation and loneliness, and lack of belonging, resulting in defensive and avoidant behaviours, in what is becoming an increasingly chaotic world.

How are these ways of being and acting impacting organisations?

Partnering in a wide range of online global coaching sessions, we noticed that a number of common trends emerged as to how our client’s teams and organisations, are being impacted at the cultural level:

  • Immobilization – many people are unable to self-manage their work from home workloads and are quietly burning out, through being overly task-focused and busy, whilst others are preferring to work autonomously, and not waste hours commuting.
  • Lacking safety and trust – many organisations are freezing all of their change initiatives, learning programs, and projects, causing people to fear loss and overall job insecurity, where many people are contracting more deeply within their “bubbles” and become even more distrustful of leadership and even more passively defensive and avoidant.
  • Lacking clarity and foresight – many organisations have slipped into being so reactive, focussing only on delivering short-term results, and are not communicating a clear strategy for leading the way forwards.

Resulting in:

  • Increased resistance to change and going back to the office adds to people’s inertia, and to their sense of disconnection and lack of belonging.
  • Increased risk adversity and conventional (cost cutting), tactical and short-term focus, inhibits any investment in Research and Development or the skills development required in developing and executing a future innovation strategy.
  • People have become even more fearful of failure, and are not stretching themselves to adapt, grow, learn and innovate with disruption, and often choosing to merely change jobs, in a competitive job marketplace, driven by scarcity, as a perceived short term solution.

A unique moment in time

This has created an opportunity, in this unique moment in time, to focus on being kinder to ourselves and to others by helping and supporting each other, respectfully and compassionately, creatively and courageously, to reconnect and reset. Despite rising levels of economic, civic, and social uncertainty and unrest.

What made sense yesterday may not make so much sense today.

Many of the mental models we applied yesterday may not be relevant for tomorrow because corporate culture, civic and social structures have drastically changed and digitalization has become commonplace, noting that we are shifting from a VUCA to BANI world where:

  • Brittle has replaced Volatility.
  • Anxiety reflects Uncertainty.
  • Non-linearity is an addition to Complexity.
  • Incomprehensibility is ultimately the consequence of our non-linear world and goes one step further than Ambiguity.

Paradoxically, this has created new openings to genuinely explore and discover new thresholds to adapt, generate new mindsets, develop skill sets, and power up our toolkits to keep pace with the effects of the emerging BANI world and capture complex systems by asking a  key generative or catalytic question:

How might you support and enable others to think and act differently in such a world, where old patterns seem to crumble while new ideas and systems still need to be created, invented, innovated, and established?

As the world of work changes, so does the need for everyone to consider how to be more open-hearted, minded, and willed with one another.

A final word from Gallop CEO Jon Preston in the Gallop Global Emotions Report:

“All over the world, people are trying to understand the rise of violence, hatred, and increased radicalization. They will continue to argue over what the best policy responses should be and what role social media plays in fueling negative emotions.

However, policymakers must understand why so many more people are experiencing unprecedented negative emotions and focus on the drivers of a great life.

Our shared humanity and wellbeing depend on it”.

When we generously and kindly demonstrate care, respect, and appreciation for the value everyone brings, we can also demonstrate helpfulness and support, through our unconditional willingness to reconnect and reset.

Resulting in an ability to co-create a better sense of belonging and a more optimistic outlook, through enhancing our emotional intelligence.  To effectively self-regulation and self-manage the superpowers and strategies required to thrive, flourish and flow, and make transformational changes in the face of relentless uncertainty, disruption, and a chaotic world.

This is the first in a series of three blogs on the theme of reconnecting and resetting, to create, invent and innovate in an increasingly chaotic world. You can also register for our free 45-minute masterclass on Thursday, 25th August, to discover new ways of re-connecting through the complexity and chaos of dis-connection to create, invent and innovate in the future! Find out more.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Taking Personal Responsibility – Back to Leadership Basics

Taking Personal Responsibility – Back to Leadership Basics

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

I was first introduced to the principle of Taking Personal Responsibility when I attended a number of experiential workshops facilitated by Robert Kiyosaki who is now well known globally as the successful entrepreneurial author of the “Rich Dad Poor Dad” book series. At that time, in the late 1980s, the concept simply involved taking personal responsibility for your role in getting the results you get, in both challenging and problematic situations.

This principle has since evolved as the most crucial foundation for developing our emotionally intelligent, conscious, and transformational leadership capabilities. Largely through focusing on the development of self-awareness and self-regulation skillsets, which are especially important skills to cultivate in times of extreme uncertainty.

Blaming, Justifying, and Denying

Taking personal responsibility involves encouraging people to step up and out of blaming themselves or others, out of justifying their position or denying what is really going on to largely avoid the cognitive, emotional, and visceral results and consequences of their actions.

Which are essentially, largely unconscious defensive reactions to the problem or situation. So, it sounds quite simple, yet, even now, it’s still largely a countercultural principle, and a neurologically challenging one, because we are wired to survive (fight/flight/freeze) in the face of what we perceive as danger!

Especially when many of us are living in an oppositional blaming and shaming political environment, or within a passively or aggressively defensive organizational culture. Where a large section of the community, has been forced by the constraints of the pandemic, into fearing that their security and survival needs will not be met. Alternately, the great resignation and the nature of the virtual hybrid workplace have increased some people’s fears about even being able to get their jobs done!

All of this creates distorted thoughts and language that focus on “scarcity” where many people are fearing that they are not “enough” and do not have “enough” to deal with their current circumstances. Rather than leaning towards exploring and eliciting the possibilities and opportunities available in our abundant world.  As there is no clear playbook about how people can effectively and responsibly lead and manage in this unique 21st-century context, many people are floundering, languishing into largely emotionally overwhelmed states.

Where it is easier, and sometimes safer, to be a victim, blame and shame others for their helpless or powerless situation, or to justify and deny any need to change their perspective about it, never mind their role in causing their own anxious and unresourceful emotional states.

Back to Leadership Basics

Yet, it is more important than ever, for leaders and managers to help people:

  • Take ownership of their consequences and be responsible for the emotional, cognitive, and visceral results of their actions,
  • Authentically connect, empower, and enable people and communities to flourish,
  • Provide safe, transparent, trusted environments and interdependence where people can dare to think differently and potentially thrive.

This means that the range of crises, uncertainty, and disruptions we are experiencing now is forcing us to go back to basic 101 management and leadership principles.

According to McKinsey & Co in a recent article “A Leaders Guide – communicating with teams, stakeholders and communities during Covid 19” – “Crises come in different intensities. As a “landscape-scale” event, the coronavirus has created great uncertainty, elevated stress and anxiety, and prompted tunnel vision, in which people focus only on the present rather than toward the future. During such a crisis, when information is unavailable or inconsistent, and when people feel unsure about what they know (or anyone knows), behavioral science points to an increased human desire for transparency, guidance, and making sense out of what has happened”.

The Maturity Continuum – Shifting to I and We

The principle of taking personal responsibility has evolved and been enhanced significantly through the work of Steve Covey, in the “Seven Habits of Effective People” and provides the core foundations for transformational and conscious leadership through the “Maturity Continuum”:

  1. Dependence is the paradigm of you – you take care of me; you come through for me; you didn’t come through for me; I blame you for the results. Dependent and approval-seeking people need others to get what they want.
  2. Independence is the paradigm of I – can do it; I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose. Independent people get what they want through their own efforts.
  3. Interdependence is the paradigm of we – we can do it; we can cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together. Interdependent people combine their efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.

Putting the Maturity Continuum to Work

In the early 2000s I was an associate of Corporate Vision, Australia’s first culture change and transformation consultancy, now the globally successful Walking the Talk organisation, for fourteen years.

Where every culture, leadership, team development, or change program we designed and presented, introduced taking personal responsibility, as a fundamental, core learning principle. Aligning it with the principle of – For things to change first I must change, which deeply challenged and disrupted people’s belief systems, habitual mindsets, thinking styles, and ways of acting.

As a seasoned coach of twenty years, these two core principles seem to still profoundly challenge the majority of my coaching clients across the world, no matter how senior their role or position is, or how knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced they are!

Where many managers and leaders have failed to self-regulate, lack self-awareness, and have unconsciously slipped into feeling victimized, powerless, helpless, and in some instances, even hopeless about their futures where some are:

  • Feeling frozen, inert, paralyzed, overwhelmed, and immobilized in their abilities to affect any kind of positive change in both their work and home environments.
  • Unconsciously slipping into blaming and shaming others for their situations,
  • Justifying their inertia through a range of “reasonable reasons” and “elaborate stories” about how it’s “not their fault” or it’s not “up to them” to make any change.
  • Simply denying their current consequences, or the importance of needing to take positive actions, and make changes.
  • Unmotivated, lack any desire for control, or have the personal power to affect change in their situation.

Initiating Taking Personal Responsibility

To accept and share responsibility starts with being bravely willing to courageously connect with our whole selves and consciously stepping back to hit our internal pause button, retreat into silence and stillness, and compassionately ask:

  1. What happened?
  2. What can I/we learn from it?
  3. What can I/we then do to create it?

Taking personal responsibility becomes a compassionate, creative, and courageous exercise in continuous learning, self-awareness, and emotional self-regulation in ways that safely disrupt people’s defensiveness and awaken them to the possibility of being personally powerful in tough situations.

It is also the basis for taking intelligent actions catalyze and cause positive outcomes, that deliver real solutions to crises, complex situations, and difficult business problems.

This is the first in a series of three blogs on the theme of taking responsibility – going back to leadership basics.

Find out more about our work at ImagineNation™

Find out about our learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, starting Tuesday, October 18, 2022. It is a blended and transformational change and learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of an ecosystem focus,  human-centric approach, and emergent structure (Theory U) to innovation, and upskill people and teams and develop their future fitness, within your unique context. Find out more about our products and tools.

Image credit: Pixabay

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A How To Guide for Overcoming Procrastination

A How To Guide for Overcoming Procrastination

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

I often wonder why some people procrastinate by delaying, postponing, or avoiding solving problems, or by withdrawing from making smart decisions, taking calculated risks, or taking intelligent actions?

  • Why do they become paralyzed and unable to take the actions necessary to solve some of their key problems?
  • Why do they often resist making even the most necessary changes to support the delivery of their creative solutions?
  • Why do so many also avoid taking personal responsibility and being accountable towards achieving their desired outcomes and goals?
  • Why do people disengage, even when the situation or problem may be critical to their own, their teams, or their organizations success?

Despite knowing that there may be a range of negative consequences for procrastinating, involving a crippling, overwhelming, and paralyzing combination of reactive responses?

Which then typically impacts negatively on people’s self-efficacy and self-belief, self-worth, and self-esteem and diminishes their motivation, disengages them and immobilizes their ability to take the necessary actions and as a result, spiral downwards?

How do we help people overcome procrastination?

  • Why is this important?

It seems that procrastination is a challenge we and many others have faced at one point or another, where we struggle with being indecisive, delaying, ignoring, avoiding taking actions to initiate, progress, or completing tasks that may be important to us, as well as on issues that really matter to us, our teams, partners and organizations.

Ultimately leading to failures, and an inability to mitigate risks, or be creative and inventive and decreasing possibilities for innovation and increasing engagement, productivity, and improving performance.

Also potentially leading to feelings of loss, insecurity, inadequacy, frustration, disengagement, and depression and in extreme cases, client, project failures and job losses, and even burnout!

Why do people procrastinate?

  • The need for security and self-protection is the key root causes of procrastination

Procrastination is most often a self-protection strategy, a way of defending ourselves, rooted in fears that result in anxieties around feeling unsafe, vulnerable, and being judged or punished, especially in times of uncertainty, unpredictability, uncontrollability, and when feeling overwhelmed.

In most organizational contexts, procrastinators are likely to respond be risk-averse by:

  • Being apprehensive and even withdrawing energetically (dis-engaging) from people as well as from the creative conversation, coupled with a lack of commitment to the change process or towards achieving the agreed goal (lacking conviction and being worried about the future).
  • Not showing up and spending a lot of time and energy zigzagging around and away from what they feel is consuming them or making them feel threatened or uncomfortable (avoidance).
  • Blaming external people and factors for not “allowing” them to participate or succeed (time, workload, culture, or environment).
  • Denying that achieving the goal really matters, bringing up excuses, and reasonable reasons about why having the goal doesn’t really matter to them, as well as a willingness to take risks (non-committal).
  • Being fearful of the future, dreading what might be the range of possible negative and overwhelming events and situations (pessimism).

What are the key signals of an effective procrastinator?

The first step in noticing the key signals is to tune into our own, and peoples’ effective avoidance default pattern as to what is really going on from a systemic perspective.

By paying deep attention, and being non -judgmental and non evaluative to the range of signals outlined as follows:

Behavior Signals

  • “Playing it safe” or “being nice” by being unwilling to challenge and be challenged.
  • Resisting any change efforts, disengaging, and being reluctant to disclose and share authentically what is really going on for them.
  • Unwillingness to take risks.
  • Shying away from engaging with their partners, families, colleagues, group activities, and from having candid conversations.
  • Being overtly indecisive and non-committal.

Neurological State Signals

  • Increased anxiety and “attention deficit” syndrome.
  • Low motivation and self-confidence.
  • Diminished ability to self-regulate and self-control.
  • Diminished self-efficacy and self-concept.
  • Onslaught of the creeping doubts and the imposter syndrome.

Extrinsic or Environmental Signals Occur When Fearful of Perception of Others

  • Performing poorly, making mistakes, or failing.
  • Fearful of doing too well, or in being too successful.
  • Losing control, status, or role.
  • Looking stupid, or being disapproved of.
  • Avoids conflict situations.

Fear of Success Signals

Some of us are unconsciously afraid of success, because irrationally we secretly believe that we are not worthy of it and don’t deserve it, and then self-sabotage our chances of success!

  • Being shy, introverted, and uncomfortable in the spotlight.
  • Being publicly successful brings social or emotional isolation.
  • Alienating peers as a result of achievement.
  • People may think you’re self-promoting.
  • Being perceived as a “tall poppy”.
  • Believing that success may not be all it’s cracked up to be, and that it might change you, but not for the better.

Fear of Failure Signals

Some people’s motivation to avoid failure often exceeds their motivation to succeed, which can cause them to unconsciously sabotage their chances of success.

  • Cognitive biases or irrational beliefs act as filters distorting reality.
  • Past pains felt from being vulnerable, abandoned, punished, blamed, or shamed in front of others, or of being disapproved of, envied, rejected, or disliked by others.
  • Fearful of looking “bad” or incompetent, in front of others.
  • Feeling threatened, a sense of danger or potential punishment, causing them to move away (freeze, fight, take flight) from confronting dangerous, painful situations as threatening.

Overcoming Procrastination Tips 

  • Co-create a safe, compassionate, and collaborative relationship

As most people find safety in procrastination at some point in time, to be an effective leader, manager, or coach in these situations, it’s important to be empathic and compassionate and “work with” where they may be coming from in terms of underlying self-beliefs:

  • “I don’t want to get hurt”.
  • “I don’t want to expose myself to risk”.

As well as respond constructively to their thoughts about how others may see them including:

  • Lacking confidence,
  • Hesitant.

Noticing how they may perceive themselves:

  • “I am nowhere near as good as I should be”.
  • “I am inadequate.”

Then by paying deep attention, and being intentional in co-creating a safe creative, and collaborative conversation that builds safety, permission, rapport, and trust by being:

  • Gentle and non-threatening, being both kind and courageous,
  • Aware of being both too direct, fast, and too laid back.
  • Providing gentle guiding, assurance, and lots of patience.
  • Focused on encouraging engagement, commitment, and confidence towards setting and achieving the desired outcome.

Ultimately enabling and equipping people to overcome procrastination creates openings and thresholds for learning and growth, to become the best person, to themselves and others, they can possibly be, and achieve the changes they wish to make in the world.

Find out about The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deep personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting May 2022. It is a blended learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of a human-centered approach to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more.

Contact us now at mailto:janet@imaginenation.com.au to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt, and grow your business, team and organisation through disruption.

Image credit: Unsplash

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