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.

How big do you have to get before growth becomes difficult? 

How can duck and cover save your business?

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?

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

The Leadership Blueprint

High Performance Cycle
High Performance Cycle
Mediocre leaders are born. Great leaders are made.
  • Do you have leaders who are good, but have not made the jump to great?
  • Do you have great leaders who could be fantastic?
  • Would you like to dramatically increase team performance in your business?
  • Are your teams revisiting decisions you thought were settled?
  • When you ask a question, is silence the most common reply?
  • Is your business expanding more rapidly than your pool of potential leaders?
  • Are you seeing less teamwork and more silos?
  • Do you dread giving performance reviews?

Do you want to change one or more of the above? 


The Leadership Blueprint is the result of years of research and empirical observation into effective leadership, leadership development, and high performance. The goal is to provide organizations with a reliable tool for developing the leadership skill they need to be successful. The science behind it is discussed at length in Organizational Psychology for Managers


To find out how the Leadership Blueprint can help you, email me at steve@7stepsahead.com or call 978-298-5189.






It's Not a Sprint, It's a Hike up a Mountain!


Last summer, I had the opportunity to hike Algonquin. For those who are not familiar with Algonquin, which included me up until about two days before I climbed it, Algonquin is the second highest mountain in New York state. This translates to roughly 5100 feet, which may not be much by Sierra Nevada standards, but when actually doing the hike such subtleties swiftly become irrelevant. The trail up Algonquin starts at 2000 feet and climbs 3000 feet in 4 miles. There are a number of words for a trail like that; one of the less emotionally expressive ones is "steep." The estimated time for the hike was 8 hours.


I have long believed the old adage that building a software project is a marathon, not a sprint. I was wrong. It's a hike up a mountain. Consider that a marathon may be long, but it is basically predictable. You know how far you are going and exactly what the conditions will be along the way. When you get to the end, you're done. Maybe it's a big circle or there are busses waiting to take you home; either way, the finish line is the finish line.


Climbing a peak like Algonquin, however, is a different experience. At the base camp, the weather was sunny and warm, a typical August day. My wife directed my attention to the sign that said that the temperature at the peak was 40 degrees Fahrenheit, just a tad cooler. I hadn't noticed that as my attention was on the sign that explained that no matter how beautiful the weather, sudden snow storms were still possible. Yes, even in August there are occasionally snow storms at and around the peak.


The trail itself started off very smooth and easy. My brother-in-law set a good pace, since we wanted to be up and down before dark. Assume one mile per hour, was what he told us. I was thinking that the trail wasn't that hard, so why such a low estimate? Then we reached the steep part. Well, at least the part that seemed steep until we got to the really steep part. Then it got steeper from there. Suddenly, a mile an hour seemed optimistic.


See the connection to a software project yet?


Even a difficult project seems pretty manageable at the start. Sure, everyone talks about the inevitable rough patches, but no one really expects them to seriously derail the schedule. But then it gets steep; or, in other words, something turns out to be much harder or more complex than expected. Lack of planning? Not really; planning is important, but it can only take you so far. Sometimes you have to plan to not know something until you get there. Your plan needs to include how you'll deal with that discovery.


I didn't realize how steep the hike up Algonquin would be. But, I had a hiking stick and my wife was using poles. My stick was very useful; on one particularly wet and slippery section of rock, it nobly sacrificed itself to save my ankle. The, now much shorter, hiking stick was still useful in various creative ways on some other impressively inclined sections of the trail.


Preparation can seem pointless until you need it. If you haven't prepared properly, your will to win won't matter. That said, sometimes you also have to improvise and be willing to back up and try something different if your first idea doesn't work.


Algonquin peak was beautiful. Despite the weather reports, it wasn't nearly as cold up there as expected. No sudden snowstorms came rolling in. Of course, it was also only the halfway mark; we still had to hike back down. That didn't stop us from having a picnic and enjoying the view; it's important to celebrate successes along the way, even if you still have more to do. If you never stop and recharge, you'll never maintain the focus necessary to reach the end. Hiking a wet, steep, trail, that can mean a blown knee or busted ankle; with software, it can mean endless delays, poor design decisions, and a buggy release.


In the end, our 8 hour hike took us closer to 10 hours. Fortunately, we'd started early in the day so we didn't run out of light; if night had fallen, that would have been a serious problem. Although I did have a flashlight, I had neither a headlamp nor any desire to spend the night on the mountain. Leaving a little more time than you think you need is always a good idea; projects inevitably take longer than expected. Getting stuck on a mountain means a very long, unpleasant, and potentially serious delay; being too aggressive with your schedule can likewise trigger unexpected problems. Putting in some slush time prevents the unexpected from becoming the catastrophic.


As we finished the hike and emerged from the woods into the sunset, we were both exhausted and exhilarated. Algonquin is a tough hike; we celebrated with dinner at a very good restaurant. At the end of your projects, what are you doing to celebrate? No matter how dedicated people are and how much they enjoy the activity, there are sections that are just exhausting. Taking the time to relax and have some fun after the slog helps us appreciate our accomplishments and prepares us to tackle the next big challenge.


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.