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Leading Change With Integrity
Does Your Organization Need A "Root Canal?"
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Twitter Highlights
I send 15-20 tweets per week with links to useful links and research. Here are a few of my latest, including links:

What's a good company in a bad industry to do?
Some suggestions:

The Happiest People Pursue the Most Difficult Problems -

Assessing competence and character - we can all learn from the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair

Why is this man smiling? Oh yeah - the $21 million

We are experts at facial recognition. "What the Brain Can Tell Us About Art" -

Can Trust Be Taught? (via @TrainingMagUS)

Finding purpose, and Guidewire values of integrity, rationality and collegiality -

"Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer." - Scott Stratten

If you think organizational change is hard, try it in France! -

Well, I guess it will save paper ..."The New Resume - 140 Characters"

How to assure supply chain integrity - A Cure For Supply Chain Blues -

America's Nine Most Damaged Brands and how they got that way -

IBM global study on organizational change: 60% fail; changing mindsets and attitudes = biggest challenge -

Research shows that better physician communication improves health outcomes -

Are you a "healthy diva" or an "unhealthy diva?" -

Is your corporate center and human resources function adding value or is it dead weight?

JCP - Another sad reminder that it's about strategy and execution. What's next for this storied retailer?

Alibaba is on my radar: "takes its culture seriously; values = half of performance appraisal

5 Signs Your Online College Might Be a Diploma Mill:

The Irony of Integrity - CCL study shows integrity important for C-level; not as much for mid-mgm't -

Cross-functional exchanges and plugging "structural holes" among best ways to engineer serendipity -

Health penalties loom for employees - 6 in 10 employers plan to impose penalties on unhealthy employees

Harvard considers instituting honor code - via

"A great conversation involves people who are curious, engaged and questioning, and develops a life of its own." (Charlie Rose)

Your Word is Your Brand - 'Agree; integrity = being as good as your word and who you say you are.

Promising concept and tool from LinkedIn: measuring the strength of your talent brand -

Where else are "standards routinely set aside in favor of more seductive objectives?" - What Was Lost At Rutgers

Are we turning our market economies into market societies, with few exceptions to a culture of transactions?

What do you think; is the end of "ROWE" at Best Buy bad for business? -

"Moral rock star" Sandel on philosophy and economists, who "know the price of everything and the value of nothing." -

I like this: "Six Simple And Irresistible Alternatives To The Elevator Pitch" - Forbes

The freedom of "no" via @SBLeaders

The 5 dimensions of learning-agile leaders -

How about that - alcohol, daydreaming and the color green are catalysts for creativity! -

We know about IQ and EQ; how do we increase the MQ (meaning quotient) at work?

"The person who is slowest to make a promise is most faithful in its performance." (Jan Jacques Rousseau)

How much difference does it really make if employees know their organization's strategy? -

Products, services, and strategies must be managed for change; brands and culture must be managed for continuity.
If you missed it, below is a copy of my last blog: Leading Change With Integrity. If you have not seen March's article, Does Your Organization Need A Root Canal, its introduction follows; you can access the entire article by clicking the link at the end.  Be sure to enter the "Who Said This?" contest at the bottom of this newsletter to win an autographed copy of Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best.
Leading Change With Integrity 

Most of you have witnessed (and perhaps been victims of) disappointing or even disastrous organizational change efforts. A 2010 IBM comprehensive global study of organizational change initiatives revealed that 60% of them fail; JCP (the retailer formerly known as J.C. Penney) is the latest high profile example.  Yet we live and work in times when the capacity to lead change effectively has perhaps never been greater. Let me add my perspective to the oceans of advice about leading organizational change.


First, let's consider what the criteria for successful organizational change should be. I  propose that there are three:

  • Effectiveness - changes should accomplish their desired effect.
  • Engagement - changes should build the commitment and loyalty of those we hope will execute desired changes.
  • Ethical - change processes and outcomes should be fair and honorable.
Definitions for "integrity" include "wholeness" and "soundness." Leading change with integrity, then, implies considering the whole; consciously or unconsciously attending to only one of two of the "3 Es" is unsound, just as a one or two-legged stool is unsound. In my book Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best, I outline four factors that leaders and organizations can leverage to craft effective, engaging and ethical cultures; they are the same factors to leverage for leading "integrious" "triple-e" change initiatives:

Identity - Identity includes an organization's history, stories, core principles or values, and strategic intentions. Here are some ways that sound change initiatives can leverage Identity:

  • Know the organization's culture, including its core strengths and vulnerabilities. Build on core strengths and beware of weaknesses that will undermine change efforts.
  • Tap pride in the organization and what it stands for; how will change initiatives build on founding principles or core values?
  • Be clear about organizational change goals and strategic direction; communicate, communicate, communicate.

Authenticity - Authenticity is about "trueness," truth-telling and transparency.

  • Be true to an organization's foundational purpose and values. Universities and colleges have come under fire as questions arise about whether changes serve fundamental educational goals or are just about growth and money. Comparable concerns are being raised by health care practitioners as the trend toward integrated and accountable health care organizations forces many mergers and acquisitions.
  • Be real. Part of JCP's demise is due to retail strategies that looked good in theory but had never been tested in Penney's market. Another aspect of being real is "not biting off more than can be chewed." As Thomas Edison said: "Vision without execution is hallucination." Change initiatives that are too much of a stretch or unsupported by necessary resources and training are unsound.
  • Model desired cultures and changes. Members are loyal to organizations and engaged with change initiatives largely to the degree that they trust leadership. Hardly anything undermines trust more than "do what I say, not what I do." For example it's hard to get enthusiastic about a stated need to increase efficiency when executive pay gets fatter while rank and file hours are increased or their pay decreased.
  • Research reveals that change initiatives driven by small secretive groups are bound for failure. Certainly not every detail of all change initiatives can be shared; in general, however, most would benefit by erring in favor of more transparency. "Nature abhors a vacuum;" rumors abound when there is inadequate communication about change initiatives.

Alignment - To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, "It's hard to understand something when our pay depends on us not understanding it." Incentives, organizational structure (or lack thereof,) training, performance appraisal and other organizational systems need to send consistent messages that are aligned with organizational intentions and change initiatives. Here are some alignment change strategies:

  • Form should fit function. Carefully define what purposes should be served, or criteria should be met if reorganizing; generate alternatives and evaluate each against those purposes and criteria.
  • Audit talent management, compensation and other human resource management practices to determine how well they reinforce a desired culture or change initiatives.
  • Successful cultures and successful change initiatives make use of what Jim Collins (From Good To Great) calls "adaptive mechanisms." Adaptive mechanisms are vehicles for assuring that an organization stays sufficiently aligned with customers, competition, markets and the environment to adapt as needed.

Accountability - Peter Drucker helped us realize that "what gets measured gets done." Assuming that there has been clear communication about strategic direction, desired changes and their rationale, measures should be in place to help all know if they are on course. Here are some strategies for succeeding with change initiatives by leveraging accountability:

  • Start with smaller targets and celebrate little victories to build confidence and momentum.
  • Integrate "The OZ Principle" (as outlined in the book by that name) where everyone has responsibility, regardless of job or function, to  "see it," (see what needs doing,) "own it" (take responsibility for getting it done,) "solve it" (identifying not just problems but solutions to those problems) and "do it" (getting it done.)
  • Institute measures that reinforce what is most important paying attention to, and eliminate measures that just add clutter.
  • Assure that everyone has objectives and measures relevant for them that are connected to the bigger goals and changes that you are trying to achieve.

Sustainable, "triple-e" organizational change is not the product solely of strong-willed, lone authority figures. Would-be change leaders will serve themselves, their organization and its stakeholders well by engaging those affected by change, learning from best practices and evidence-based change research, and partnering with experienced guides.


Fundamentally, change is about people. It's people who will execute desired changes (or not) and their engagement that will drive success. In the same IBM global study on change cited above, the greatest challenge reported by executives was changing mindsets and attitudes (60%, followed by culture at 49%.) Participation, communication, trust and "encouraging the heart" practices (in Kouzes and Posner's book by that name,) coupled with the above will go far fulfilling the promise of desired change and building an organization's change management capacity.



There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

- Niccolo Machiavelli 



People don't resist change. They resist being changed!

- Peter Senge 


All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.  

- Ellen Glasgow




Does Your Organization Need A "Root Canal?"

Early on the second day of a client engagement, I found myself at the dentist's. The nagging tooth ache that we thought a filling fixed had gotten worse; I needed to be "on" in a couple hours, and was leaving town early the next morning. X-rays were inconclusive about whether a root canal might be in order, so in the time available the dentist got busy grinding and polishing, both of us hoping that adjusting my bite would solve the problem. To distract myself, I got to thinking about how my situation is like some organizations - in pain, and uncertain about what it will take to make the pain go away and be healthy again.



A slight wheel vibration, squeaky part or strange engine sound usually gets worse and causes greater, more expensive damage if ignored or untreated.  I have to admit, I dislike the prospect of dental work enough that I engaged in some magical thinking when my tooth started aching: "Oh, it's probably nothing serious and will go away." It didn't, and that's why I scheduled an emergency visit to my dentist. Customer or employee complaints, unwanted turnover, declining quality or chronic cost overruns are likewise potential symptoms of systemic problems. It's better and less costly long term to face problems squarely than to engage in magical thinking in hopes that they will go away.



It's tempting, and sometimes makes sense, to start addressing problems with easier, quicker and less expensive options than might be required. Maybe ibuprofen or chewing on one side for a while will solve a toothache. Maybe a training program or time off will alleviate problems at work. When ibuprofen for a toothache or time off in the case of work problems doesn't do the job, it's time to consider the

Win A Free Book! Navigating Integrity front cover

Enter the "WHO SAID THIS?" contest on our blog to win a free  autographed copy of  
Navigating Integrity - Transforming Business As Usual Into Business At Its Best

"In this new book, Al Watts does a masterful job articulating how to live with integrity in your organization, on your team and in your life. A highly practical guide for leveraging the power of integrity."
(Kevin Cashman, Senior Partner Korn Ferrry)
Contact inTEgro to explore how we can be of service for strategic planning, senior team and board development or facilitating critical meetings. Click "Services" on our home page to learn more, including inTEgro's array of professional organization, team and leader surveys.

All the best,

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc.
ph: (612) 827-2363

Al Watts
inTEgro, Inc