Leadership from the Field - Strategy as Planned Change - Setting the Stage for Change
Leaders' Newsletter August 2015
Welcome to this month's issue of "Leading from the Field."
Hi ,


Welcome to the August 2015 issue of "Leading from the Field." Strategy as Planned Change

A warm welcome to new and continuing subscribers!


 In this issue:

  • Leadership from the Field - Strategy as Planned Change
  • More on Workplace Stress
  • Upcoming Speaking Engagements: IIE Lean Conference, The National Institute for Healthcare Leadership
  • What I am Reading: The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't - Don't let the name scare you away!
  • Solutions for Your Most Challenging Issues @jeanannlarson.org
  • Summer Catalog
  • Are You a Strategic Thinker?
  • Author Page
  • Countdown to August 24th - Organizational and Process Reengineering Approaches for Health Care Transformation my latest book is coming!

Also, please check out my website and browse through my blog posts, and leave your comments and replies! 


Thank you,

Dr. Jean Ann Larson

Managing Partner

Jean Ann Larson & Associates

800-823-4330 (office)

Leadership from the field 

 Strategy as Planned Change - Setting the Stage for Change


The 50+ leaders I interviewed about top challenges and critical leadership competencies for the future all noted there is a growing need to effectively deal with the increasing amount of change impacting us while leading ever more complex organizations. They also mentioned the need for leaders to develop strong strategic thinking skills.  I would argue that the two go hand-in-hand and that strategy is nothing more or less than "planned change."


Why do you develop a strategy?  Whether you are part of a Fortune 500 organization or a sole proprietor, you want to take your company from point A to point B - with point B being your organization's vision.  In between points A and B is a gap of what you need to do or change in order to reach that vision. Thus organizational change requires a strategy as much as strategy requires organizational and behavioral change.


So what is strategy? One definition states, "Strategy is about positioning an organization for sustainable competitive advantage. It involves making choices about which industries to participate in, what products and services to offer, and how to allocate corporate resources. Its primary goal is to create value for shareholders and other stakeholders by providing customer value." (De Kluyver & Pearce, 2011).  The late Warren Bennis noted that "leadership is the capacity to translate vision into strategy" or the ability to lead planned change.

This all seems fairly simple and straightforward.  However, I see many people try to turn strategy development into both a science and art project making it very complicated in an effort to make it all things to too many people.  I argue that if it takes you 30+ minutes or a PowerPoint presentation to describe your strategy, it is too complex and is in danger of being permanently shelved in a back corner in the executives' offices where so many well-meaning strategies go to die.


So how can we simplify strategy?  I suggest going back to the basics by considering Peter Drucker's Five Most Important Questions. Those questions are:

  1. What is our mission?
  2. Who is our customer?
  3. What does the customer value?
  4. What are our results?  Or what results and outcomes are we wanting?
  5. What is our plan?

Let me know how your strategy as planned change efforts are moving forward.


Jean Ann Larson & Associates

800-823-4330 (office)

Email ~ Website

"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into strategy."
- Warren Bennis

More on Workplace Stress

Thanks to you all who tried out the new Workplace Stress index and for visiting the TTI Success Insights new microsite, MeasureYourStress.com, which provides you resources to better manage workplace stress. Visit the website to:

    *    View key stats on the impact of stress in the workplace
    *    Determine how leaders should address stress
    *    Learn 7 ways stress manifests itself
    *    Understand the warning signs of stress

If you're still not sure if this is for you and your team, check out my exclusive offer to let you try this assessment with no obligation to see how your team is being impacted by change.  Want to learn more?  Please drop me a note at
jeanann@jalarson.net or give me a call at +1-800-823-4330.


Jean Ann Larson & Associates

800-823-4330 (office)

Email ~ Website
"The true university of these days is a collection of books."
- Thomas Carlyle, Scottish philosopher and writer

Up-coming Speaking Engagements 


September 30- October 2 in Atlanta at the IIE Lean Engineering Conference on Mastering Your Own Lean Professional Transitions


October 14, 2015 at Novant Health in Winston Salem, North Carolina for the National Institute for Healthcare LeadershipTopic: Leading Your Team through Challenging Times

For more information on any of these engagements or conferences or to book me for your organization or event, please email me at jeanann@jalarson.net or call me at 800-823-4330 


Jean Ann Larson & Associates

800-823-4330 (office)

What I Am Reading 

The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't - Robert I. Sutton.

The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't is a book by Stanford professor Robert I. Sutton, based on a popular essay he wrote for the Harvard Business Review. The theme of this book is that bullying behavior in the workplace worsens morale and productivity while increasing workplace stress. A rule is suggested to screen out the toxic staff-the no a**hole rule. The author insists upon use of the word a**hole since other words such as bully or jerk do not have the same impact.  He says, "There's an emotional reaction to a dirty title. You have a choice between being offensive and being ignored."

For the most part, it is inevitable that we have to deal with these types of people at some time during our professional careers. This is the first book that doesn't skirt around the facts of diagnosing them as a**holes (by their actions) and giving effective advice on how to deal with them or not be one of them.

Two tests are specified for recognition of the a**hole:

  1. 1.     After encountering the person, do people feel oppressed, humiliated or otherwise worse about themselves?
  2. 2.     Does the person target people who are less powerful than him/her?

Their unpleasant behaviors were catalogued by Sutton as The Dirty Dozen:

  1. 1.      Personal insults
  2. 2.      Invading one's personal territory
  3. 3.      Uninvited personal contact
  4. 4.      Threats and intimidation, both verbal and non-verbal
  5. 5.      Sarcastic jokes and teasing used as insult delivery systems
  6. 6.      Withering email flames
  7. 7.      Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims
  8. 8.      Public shaming or status degradation rituals
  9. 9.      Rude interruptions
  10. 10.   Two-faced attacks
  11. 11.   Dirty looks
  12. 12.   Treating people as if they are invisible

Famous bosses who are cited as having weakened their position by such bad behavior include Al Dunlap and Michael Eisner. Companies who are listed as having appropriate recruitment policies to keep these toxic bullies out include: Barclays Capital, Google, Jet Blue and Men's Wearhouse. A special chapter is dedicated to "the virtues of a**holes", in which Steve Jobs is discussed as a prime example.

The book also argues that a**hole behavior is rather common by citing various studies: "survey of 800 employees found that 10% witnessed daily incivility on their jobs and 20% were direct targets of incivility at least once a week. [...] another study of workplace incivility among 216 Canadian white-collar workers [...] found that approximately 25% witnessed incivility of some kind on the job every day and 50% reported being direct targets of incivility at least once a week. A host of other studies show that psychological abuse and bullying are common in other countries [7 countries listed]. A representative sample of Australian employees found that 35% reported being verbally abused by at least one coworker and 31% reported being verbally abused by at least one superior. [...] In the Third European Survey on Working Conditions, which was based on 21,500 face-to-face interviews with employees from countries of the European Union, 9% reported that they were exposed to persistent intimidation and bullying." The book also affirms that "upward" nastiness, i.e. directed toward bosses is the rarest form, occurring in only 1% of the cases, while "downward" nastiness is estimated to account for "50%-80%" of the occurrences, with "20%-50%" occurring among "coworkers of roughly the same rank."

Sutton cites companies that have effectively instilled a "No A**hole Rule" because they have realized that the true cost of the A**hole runs deeper than the A**hole's salary (TCA or Total Cost of A**holes). It truly can diminish productivity in the office, increase employee turnover, stifle communication, and lower employee self-esteem and health. The book explains how to implement a No A**hole Rule at any organization.

According to the book, negative interactions have a five time stronger effect on mood than positive interactions. So you can see that keeping around that "very productive A**hole" may have deeper implications that do not show up on the books, but take a toll on the ones around him/her.

There is a whole section in the book detailing how to avoid being an A**hole which is a truly insightful section on how to face one's own demons, and to be a more effective co-worker/partner/boss in a work environment.


 We would love to hear your comments. Please email us at jeanann@jalarson.net.

Solutions for your Most Challenging Issues

  • Need leadership development? Jean Ann Larson & Associates provide executive team development, executive coaching and leadership retreats. Click here 
  • Want to maximize your team's results and enhance business strategy? Let Jean Ann and her team do an organizational audit and business process review to align you, your work teams and employees for maximum engagement. Click here 
  • Want to deal more effectively with your major change initiatives? Let us work with your team on a change readiness assessment refresh and boot camp to improve your effectiveness at leading change. Click here
  • Want a road map and proven method to truly transforming your organization's people, processes, methods and mindsets? Hire Jean Ann Larson & Associates for an Organizational Reengineering Engagement. Click here
  • Need an inspiring keynote for a corporate event or professional association? Jean Ann Larson is an acclaimed keynote speaker and facilitator.  We also do customized programs and workshops for high potential leaders and other key people in your organization. For a listing of recent programs and topics, please see our Updated Summer Catalog.

Updated Summer Keynote Speeches and Workshop Catalog


If you're interested in a copy of the Summer Catalog, send me a note at info@jalarson.net with CATALOG in the subject line. It includes some new topics and a curriculum for high potentials.


"Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning."- Winston Churchill
Are You a Strategic Thinker?

Are you a strategic thinker? Strategic thinking involves analyzing opportunities and problems from a broad perspective while understanding how certain decisions and actions might have an impact on other options and outcomes.  How do you know if you are a strategic thinker?  You might be a strategic thinker if you:

*        Are curious

*        Are flexible

*        Are future-focused

*        Have a positive outlook

*        Are open to new ideas

*        Work to broaden your knowledge and experience

*        Are able to "connect the dots."

How do you rate? What are your strengths? Areas for improvement?

Check out my Amazon.com author page

Countdown to the Book Launch later this month


Organizational and Process Reengineering: Publication Date: August 24, 2015.


You can preorder it at a 20% discount by following this link:

Here's what people are saying:  


Modern healthcare organizations find themselves in a tremendously precarious and challenging position to continually do more with less without compromising quality and patient satisfaction. Solutions to process change are oftentimes complex and far from easy. Dr. Larson has created a brilliant approach to organizational transformation through her unique combination of approaches to process improvement coupled with her vast experience in the industry. This book is the only resource you will need to charge forward with courage and confidence to move your organization to unbridled success. Val Gokenbach DM RN MBA RWJF, Leading Leaders, Formerly CNO of Beaumont Health Systems, Detroit MI

I highly recommend that anyone who is a leader read Dr. Larson's insights regarding the importance of process improvement and culture in change management and quality improvement. Her command of both process and structure to support outcomes is superb. In addition, she possesses vast knowledge and understanding of human behavior and its relationship to process improvement required to achieve performance excellence.

Gene Michalski, Former President and Chief Executive Officer, Beaumont Health, Royal Oak Michigan


U.S. healthcare is beyond simply picking the "low hanging fruit" of siloed process improvement initiatives. True transformational change is a product of highly effective communication, collaboration, trust and a clear vision of the desired future state.  Jean Ann cleverly aligns the best tools and techniques together that drive reliable, sustainable change to our modern healthcare organizations. Rudy Santacroce, PE, Vice President, Operational Excellence, RTKL and Associates, Dallas Texas


If you need to lead your organization through fundamental change and improvement, this book provides a road map along with case studies, templates and lessons learned. 


Pre-order today! Click here


Check out my website and browse through my blog posts, and leave your comments and replies. And don't forget to sign up for my blog posts!
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"Change your thoughts and you change your world."
- Norman Vincent Peale

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All the best!
Jean Ann


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