7 Steps Ahead, LLC

Organizational Psychology for Managers
sold out at Amazon.com two days after it was released! Fortunately, more copies are now available. Click here to order. For excerpts, click here. To read a review of the book, click here.

Goals are great... until they're not!

What is a key characteristic of a great leader?

What are some of the benefits of applying organizational psychology to your business? Find out in this radio interview!

What happens when a leader won't play well with others?

Is that really such a bargain?

Do you understand your company's personality?

Are you hearing the hoof beats of the four horsemen of business failure?

How can you make sure you're in the right place at the right time?

Just how different are leaders and managers really?

Despite the old claim about frogs sitting in water until it boils, they actually are smart enough to jump out. Why don't people do the same?

Why is it so hard to deal with Jerks in the office?

Here's what Bank of America has to say about how leaders impact high performance teams.

What can you do when you feel you don't fit into a new organizational culture?

If you want a motivated workforce, check out this article from Fox Business.

Learn the secrets of Mastering Your Schedule on Time Tamer Talk Radio.

"The 36-Hour Course in Organizational Development" was listed by Amazon.com as one of the top 100 books on organizational behavior.



Publications and Announcements

Click here for the full list of publications

How Different Are Leaders and Managers?
in Corp! Magazine

Are You Speaking to Me?
in Corp! Magazine

When the Solution is the Problem
in Corp! Magazine

The Paradox of Perfection
American Business Magazine

Flawed Execution? Don't Lose Your Head Over It
in Corp! Magazine

The Destroyer of Cultures
at ERE.Net

Help Star Performers Ramp Up The Whole Team
in Corp! Magazine

The Secret to Productive Staff Meetings   

in Medical Office Today 

 Don't Let Dracula Decisions Roam Your Business  

in Corp! Magazine 

The Blame of Phobos Grunt  

in Corp! Magazine 


 The Four Horsemen of Business Failure  

in MeasureIT

Of Cats and Unwanted Prizes 

in Corp! Magazine

Who Betrays One Master 

in the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership


My Hovercraft is Full of Eels
in Corp! Magazine


Using the Force: What Every Exec Can Learn From Darth Vader
in the Worcester Business Journal

"Balance the Individual and the Team for Top Performance"
in Corp! Magazine

"Real Science Fiction"
in Corp! Magazine

"Shaky Ground"
in Lab Manager Magazine

Zen and the Art of Leadership
Talk presented at Infotec 2010

Recent Interviews

Do you understand your company's personality?
in ComputerWorld

Tell About Mistakes and Failed Projects
in Investors Business Daily

A Bad Work Environment Can Make You Sick
on CareerBliss

How Much Does Motivation Matter? 

  in CSI International


Profiting from Your Performance Review  

in NASDAQ Careers News


 Motivating Small Business Employees to Work As Hard As You  

in the Phonebooth


 Relax at Work? Ha! 

in the Jewish Exponent


The Mobility Morass  

in Specialty Fabrics Review


HR Mistake of the Week: Why Hiring for Emotional Intelligence Gets You a BFF Instead of a Star Employee
in The Grindstone

Using Games to Build Your Team
on the Talking Work Podcast

How to Use Sports to Advance Leadership and Organizational Development
on the Full Potential Show with James Rick

Hiring Mistakes
with Todd Raphael,
Editor, Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership

Organizational Development on
The David Lush Show, WNIX 1330 AM

Innovation and Corporate Culture
on KKZZ Brainstormin' with Bill Frank

The Startup Business Coach

The CEO and Organizational Development


How to Motivate Your Employees
on Fox Business

Komen Reverses Planned Parenthood Move
in The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Art of Branding Your Career 

in Psychology Today

Prepping for Your Annual Review

in the NY Times


Making Pay Decisions Transparent 

in Human Resource Executive


Don't Like Your Job? Define One You Like 

in IT World


Computer Measurement Group Announces Keynote and Plenary Speakers for CMG'11 Taking Place December 5-9, 2011 at Gaylord National Hotel in D.C. Area  


 Career Focus: Engineering Management in Today's Engineer, a publication of the IEEE



4 Ways to Log Off on Time Off 


 About Creating Visions and Organizational Goals 


Researchers Find 'The Paradox of Meritocracy' 

in Human Resource Executive 


Game Changer 

in SHRM India


How to Stay Motivated on the Road to ITIL Expert  

in ITSM Watch


To Be a Leader, You Must Be a Follower 

in Oregon Business


 Incentivizing Employees
in Advance for Medical Laboratory Professionals

Tips for Making, Keeping Business Resolutions
at Fox Small Business

The Evolution of Leadership

Getting Results: Performance vs. Putting in the Hours

How to Self-Promote Without Being Obnoxious
on CNN

Hiring Headaches
in the IndUS Business Journal

Identifying Your Future Leaders
in IndustryWeek Magazine

Natural Born Project Managers: Myth or Reality at Project Manager Planet


How to Survive a Bad Team Leader
at Yahoo! Careers

Books and CDs

Contact Us

 Is Congress Running Your Business?


It's been pretty impressive listening to the news lately. Will Congress deign to return from vacation to debate whether to grant military authorization to attack ISIL? It seems sort of odd to even be debating whether or not they should be doing their jobs! Now, I could at this point draw some trivial parallel to around how many people get to just blow off their jobs and not really worry about it, but that would be pointless. I doubt anyone is having any trouble seeing that issue!


What I find much more interesting is why they are so eager to avoid debate, and what that can teach us about similar problems in a business.


Politics is an interesting game: in a very real sense, it's not so much about doing the job as it is about looking good. Debate military authorization before elections? No matter what you decide, events might prove you wrong. In this case, prove really means that a completely arbitrary and unforeseeable event makes whatever decision you just made appear to be wrong in hindsight. Of course, once this happens, then it becomes an opportunity for your political opponents to swoop in and declare that they would have magically foreseen the future and made a different decision.


In the immortal words of Monty Python, there are three lessons we can take from this and the number of the lessons shall be three.


First, hindsight is very comforting, but is fundamentally an illusion. Hindsight only appears to be 20-20. In reality, what appears obvious in hindsight is frequently only obvious because we know the answer. Go read a good mystery, be it a Sherlock Holmes story or something by Agatha Christie, and try to figure out the clues. It can be done; Conan Doyle, for instance, played fair. You don't need to know that Holmes picked up a particular brand of cigar ash from the floor; it's sufficient to just know that he found something interesting. The problem is that it doesn't help: even with the clues in front of us, it's still extremely difficult to solve the mystery. Once Holmes explains it, however, then it's obvious; in fact, it's hard to imagine that it could have gone any other way. That's the problem with hindsight: once we know how events turned out, clearly it was obvious all along. That's why everyone bought Google stock the day it went public and held on to it ever since. While hindsight, used properly, can certainly teach us some useful lessons about our decisions, the hindsight trap teaches us to avoid taking action.


Second, how do we react when someone makes a mistake? In any business operation, mistakes will happen. Are those mistakes feedback or are they the kiss of death? Does a wrong decision become an opportunity to bring out the knives and get rid of a rival or find an excuse to not give someone a promotion or a raise? Or does a wrong decision become an opportunity to revisit the process of making the decision and learn how to make better decisions? In other words, are you fixing the problems or are you simply fixing blame? Fixing blame may feel good, but doesn't actually solve anything: the same problems just keep reappearing in different guises.


Third, are you evaluating your employees based on results, strategy, or both? Even the best strategy sometimes fails, but when you focus on strategy your odds of successful results are much higher. If you only focus on results, you are telling people to not take risks, not accept challenges, but rather to play it safe. If you only focus on strategy, you lose the opportunity to reality check your plans: if a strategy fails, it's important to understand what happened. Did the market change? Did something unexpected and unpredictable occur? What are the things that can derail your strategy and what can you do to make your strategies more resilient? What can you control and what is outside your control? Athletes who focus on strategy, process, and winning, win far more often than those who only focus on winning.


When you get caught in the hindsight trap, fix blame, and ignore strategy what you are really doing is telling people that inaction is better than action, pointing fingers is better than improving the business, and playing it safe is better than pushing the envelope and seeking excellence. Is that really the business you want? If it's not, what are you going to do?






 Contact me to find out how to dramatically improve performance in your organization.  


Stephen R Balzac

About 7 Steps Ahead 
Stephen R. Balzac, "The Business Sensei," is a consultant, author, professional speaker, and president of 7 Steps Ahead, specializing in helping businesses get unstuck and transform problems into opportunities.

Steve has over twenty years of experience in the high tech industry and is the former Director of Operations for Silicon Genetics, in Redwood City, CA.

Steve is the author of The 36-Hour Course on Organizational Development, published by McGraw-Hill and a contributing author to Ethics and Game Design: Teaching Values Through Play. Steve's latest book, "Organizational Psychology for Managers," was released by Springer in the fall of 2013. He writes the monthly business column, "Balzac on Business."

He is the president of the Society of Professional Consultants (SPC) and served as a member of the board of the New England Society for Applied Psychology. No stranger to the challenges of achieving peak performance under competitive and stressful conditions, he holds a fifth degree black belt in jujitsu and is a former nationally ranked competitive fencer.