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A Strategy to Create Awareness and Reinforce Organizational Change

Honeywell’s annual Big Red H Award Program created lasting behavior changes and played a key role in developing world-class communications professionals who contributed to company success.

In the mid-eighties, few standards existed among Honeywell’s Aerospace and Defense communications professionals. Communicators ranged from those who thought their jobs consisted of writing and SOS—sending out stuff—and those who created strategic communications to help leaders manage organizational change and achieve company goals.Change management strategy

Not surprisingly, the company valued the second group highly. So, their leaders launched a program called the Big Red H. The goal was to encourage best-in-class work and develop high-quality professionals.

The Big Red H Program consisted of three steps:

  1. At the end of each year, communicators submitted their best work for evaluation by a group of experts.
  2. The submission process required communicators to describe their project, identify quantitative objectives, provide an audience analysis for each stakeholder group, and define their strategy to mitigate resistance for each project they submitted. In addition, and this was the most important element, communicators needed to list the measurable results they achieved. For novice communicators, completing the submission to The Big Red H Program created awareness about the elements of an excellent communication plan. For more experienced professionals, the process served to reinforce what it took to be a world-class communicator.
  3. All communicators were invited to attend an annual best-in-class communications conference whether they’d submitted a project or not. During that conference, people were honored, projects highlighted, awards presented, and communicators had a chance to learn and share best practices.

The program was beautiful in its design and simplicity because it:

  • Provided ongoing awareness about the value of strategic communications—not just to the communicators but to the leaders they supported as well.
  • Created the desire among communications professionals to adopt best practices and to be recognized as highly competent among peers and leadership.
  • Reinforced ongoing behavior and actions throughout the Aerospace and Defense Group to be a strategic communicator whose work made a difference to the success of the company.

What type of organizational change do you want to achieve in your company? How might an awards program create awareness and reinforce the behavior you want?

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Leadership Resources: 7 Ways to Unleash Creativity

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for two years, but will soon be out-of-date.”  Roger von Oech, author and consultant

2013 promises to be every bit as challenging—or more so than 2012. Here are seven resources and links for building creative problem-solving skills to help you and your teams identify new and better solutions to the challenges you face in the coming year.Leadership tips and tools

  1. Use mind mapping techniques and software: In his book, Use Both Sides of Your Brain, Tony Buzan describes how mind mapping can be a quick, easy way to brainstorm, capture ideas, and create a plan or document. Buzon offers a free trial of his iMindMap6 mind mapping software, which is also available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
  2. Activate your explorer, judge, artist, and warriorRoger von Oech is an author, inventor, and consultant. He started his company, Creative Think, in 1977 to stimulate creativity in business. He wrote  A Whack on the Side of the Head and A Kick in the Seat of the Pants, which are filled with fun tips, stories, and games that stimulate new ways to confront old and new challenges.
  3. Consider an innovation training program: Synecticsworld provides ground-breaking programs in innovative teamwork, facilitating group creativity, seeing with new eyes, and other custom learning programs. I took a week-long course from them several years ago—it was one of the most thought-provoking and useful programs I’ve ever attended.
  4. Daydream at work: Did you know that Google and 3M give their employees time and space to daydream? In her book, Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers, Amy Fries provides suggestions about how to build personal energy and motivation by tapping into your own daydreams. She also includes interviews and stories, and questionnaires to identify your own daydreaming style.
  5. Play games with your team:  Human Synergistics International offers affordable team simulations to enhance group problem-solving skills and decision-making effectiveness, while strengthening cooperation and communication among team members.
  6. Learn and apply new innovation techniques:  Michael Michalko, the author of Thinkertoys, Cracking Creativity, and ThinkPak, provides a host of techniques to unlock creativity. He describes how to reverse conventional assumptions, manipulate what exists into something different, use a variety of exercises to generate new ideas for products, markets, and sales, and much more.
  7. Ask your team to draw their emotions:  Emography is a right brain activity that allows teams to think and interact on a deeper level. It is especially effective during organizational change.

Wishing you a satisfying and creative year!  Sher Foerster Kyweriga

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Emography: A Change Management Tool to Engage Your Team

Emography is the art of drawing an emotion. It’s a right brain activity that helps teams communicate on a deeper level. When team members first create images of thoughts and feelings, it’s easier for them to talk about difficult topics, resolve conflicts, and identify solutions. This technique is especially effective during organizational change when emotions are running high.

Following a series of acquisitions, Natalie was charged with consolidating three departments into one centralized operation. Her challenge was to retain each of the three leadership teams, maintain a high level of morale during the transition, and identify as many ways to decrease operating expenses as possible. A piece of cake, right? To ensure success, Natalie applied the Three Levels of Communication™.

Level 1 Communication – Intellectual:  People understand the need to change

Natalie met individually with her new leaders and told them how valuable they were to the company. She asked for their help and expertise to build a combined, stronger department that would exemplify the best practices from each of the old departments.

She provided facts and figures to convince these leaders they would have a bright, challenging future–even brighter than if they’d continued to lead their own smaller departments.

The leaders told her how hard they had worked to build best practices over the years. They explained how proud they were of all they’d accomplished and that they were afraid the changes would limit their personal power. When they shared Natalie’s messages, they found their own fear and uncertainty mirrored back to them through the eyes and words of their direct reports.

Natalie understood that all the facts and figures in the world were not going to change how they felt. However, she was just getting started.

Level 2 Communication – Emotional: People buy in and want to support the need for change

The next thing she did was to schedule an offsite. Natalie knew she needed to create a joint experience that would help these leaders feel the power they could achieve through a new, centralized department. She knew that before people could feel the power, they needed to share what they’d already accomplished. She also knew that before they could create a new vision, they had to let go of the old.

So, as part of the offsite, she structured a three-part emography exercise.

  • Part 1:  The first morning, leaders broke into small groups, which represented their original departments. On a flip chart, they drew all the images they could think of to illustrate the accomplishments and culture of their former departments. Then they shared their images and thoughts with the large group. Their new colleagues smiled and said things like, “we need to do that in our new department,” and “what a great idea.” Instead of thinking only about what they wanted to say next, people were listening to each other and considering new ideas.
  • Part 2:  At the end of the day, everyone broke into new groups that mixed leaders from the three departments. The groups drew images that described how they and their direct reports currently felt about the changes they faced as one consolidated department. As each group reported back, they discovered everyone was feeling the same fear, uncertainty, and chaos. That night, over dinner, people talked about how they could work together to keep the best practices from each former team and how to help their direct reports transition. They started to talk about how maybe this consolidation could be a good thing if they learned how to work as a team.
  • Part 3:  Throughout the second day, the leaders identified and prioritized objectives for the coming quarter. At the end of the day, Natalie asked them to mix once more into new groups and create images of how they envisioned the new, centralized department. When each group reported back to the larger group, the energy in the room grew and the offsite culminated in commitments from each to build the strongest department they could.

Level 3 Communication – Practical:  People know how to make a personal contribution

The offsite was even more successful than Natalie had hoped. Even so, she knew that when everyone went back to face their daily work, the excitement and commitment could dissipate if the processes and tools did not exist to reinforce the right behavior and actions.

So, she and her leaders created a plan to communicate what needed to happen, why, when it needed to happen, and who was involved. They also provided a variety of ongoing experiences for everyone, kept priorities and progress visible, and celebrated progress against plan.

In the end, this team saved $8M in operating expenses. Morale was high, and people were proud to be part of the new team.

Emography is a useful tool. We often think in words rather than images, and language can be limiting. When we draw representations of what we’re feeling, we can express through metaphor and image what we may not be able to express with words alone. Please contact me if you would like to learn more about how to use Emography with your own team.

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How to Use Psychology to Be a Better Presenter

Improve business presentations with tips from 100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know about People.

Did you know that people only remember four items at once? That we are affected by how the furniture is arranged? Or, that small commitments lead to more action? In her book, 100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know about PeopleSusan Weinschenk, Ph.D., describes how to use psychology to be a better presenter:

If you want to give a great presentation, you need to know a lot about people. The more you understand how people think, learn, hear, see, react, and decide, the better able you will be to put together a presentation that informs, inspires, and motivates. When you learn about others, you’ll know how to craft and deliver a powerful presentation. 

Dr. Weinschenk has not only created a thought-provoking book on how to create and deliver powerful presentations, she has created a beautiful book, colorfully laid out with bite-sized pieces of information. If you only have a few minutes to read, you will benefit from a couple of her 100 tips. Or, you can indulge and quickly read the entire book to prepare and deliver an upcoming presentation with more confidence, credibility, and power.

The book is divided into 10 sections, each packed with practical information.

  1. How people think and learn
  2. How to grab and hold people’s attention
  3. How to motivate people to take action
  4. How people listen and see
  5. How people react to the environment
  6. How people react emotionally
  7. How people react to you
  8. How people decide to take action
  9. How to craft your presentation
  10. Your 90-day improvement plan

It’s been a while since I’ve come across a book on how to present that is this powerful. If you have a chance, pick up a copy. I think you will be impressed.

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Presentation Tip: Use Movie Clips to Accelerate Organizational Change

Showing a movie clip is a powerful way to help people internalize your messages. The use of movie clips is also a powerful tool to use during organizational change.

It was day two of the annual corporate leadership conference. The goal that year was to provide participants with the information and tools they needed to lead their direct reports through a major organizational transformation. The speaker walked up to the podium:Organizational change communication tips

Yesterday, we talked about how we must take our business to a whole new level. I believe that leadership is the single, most important factor to ensure our success during this transformation.  That means each one of you plays a critical role.

It’s up to us to define our vision, to model the behavior that represents our company–and most important of all–to inspire our direct reports so that they have the confidence, information, and resources to transform our company. We will not be successful unless employees understand what needs to happen, why, and how they can make a personal difference to our success.

Then, the lights went out, and a movie clip from Mr. Holland’s Opus started to play.

The leader’s purpose in showing the clip:  She wanted to connect on Level 2 of the Three Levels of Communication to ensure that conference leaders would continue to feel the importance of inspiring their direct reports. She knew that if she could show—not just tell—people would understand and remember on a deeper level.

The Scene:  Chapter 8—Not Just Notes on a Page

The Action:  A girl walks into the band room to tell her instructor, Mr. Holland, that she is going to quit because she is messing things up for everyone else during practice. Mr. Holland’s goal is to inspire her to keep trying. He explains that her focus has been only on playing the notes. He describes how music is about much more than notes on a page, it’s about feelings, moving people, and being alive.

Then, he asks her to play for him without the music. He says she doesn’t need to look at the notes because she already knows the music in her fingers, her heart, and her mind. He tells her to trust what she knows. The girl falters, indicating that she just can’t do it. So, Mr. Holland asks her what she likes best about herself. She smiles, and says her hair because her father always tells her it reminds him of a sunrise. Mr. Holland just nods and tells her to play him the sunrise. And so she does, playing the piece and moving smoothly through the notes. That scenes morphs into another in which the whole band is playing and she has succeeded.

When the movie clip ended, the speaker stood up and said:

I believe we have special leaders in our organization. We lead not only from our heads, but also from our hearts. I also believe we represent three things:

    1. What we create,
    2. How we live, and
    3. Who we touch.

I invite you to think about not only how we define and execute our strategies. Think also, about how you can help those who report to you play a sunrise.

I sat in the back of the room that day, and I saw several leaders flicking away a tear or two—men and women. Later in the bathroom, I walked in on one of the marketing leaders, and she was crying. She said something along the lines of, “We forget that we can make a difference in how people feel every day about what is going on here. We need to remember.”

The scene I’ve described is moving, and I didn’t even begin to do it justice. So, if you have some time, get a copy of Mr. Holland’s Opus, go to Chapter 8: Not Just Notes on a Page, and find out what these leaders saw for yourself.

How to use a Movie Clip to Connect with Others on an Emotional Level

  • Define your purpose and the messages you want to deliver.  What do you want people to understand, feel, and do after they have seen the movie clip?
  • Identify a movie clip that will help you make your points. Excellent clips exist to help you reinforce any message. For example, Cast Away can help you illustrate that even when you believe you face insurmountable challenges, it’s possible to have a new beginning.  Apollo 13 has excellent segments illustrating the importance of setting stringent goals, the critical need to follow process to achieve them, and why you must have faith in others. Think about the movies you’ve seen and how they might link to messages you want to reinforce.
  • Get permission to use the clip. The fair use doctrine contains a copyright exception for educational purposes, but for showing a clip during a corporate presentation, permission is required. The Motion Picture Licensing Corporation is an excellent resource to help you get a license to show a clip. It just takes a few minutes.
  • Make notes on what you will say to link the action in the scene to your messages.
  • Arrive early, get things set up ahead of time, and do a dry run. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough.

Facts and figures are not enough to motivate people to take action. People take action when they feel a need, when they understand and believe from the inside out that change must happen, and when they know how to make a personal difference.

Stay tuned in future blogs for how to introduce change with other movie clips, metaphors, and games.

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Launch Organizational Change with a Metaphor

Engage employees on all three levels of communication to launch effective organizational change.

Marie was a new business unit leader in this Fortune 500 manufacturing company. Her charge was to launch a transformation, which included evaluating every aspect of their production and introducing Lean Six Sigma.

Marie knew about all the rumblings that had been going on about the anticipated changes she would lead. She understood that in order to achieve this transformation, she would have to communicate in a way that would capture people’s attention and let them know that to survive in the marketplace they would have to change the way they did business.

She wanted to demonstrate, somehow, that change was not an option. She understood that she needed to connect with employees on all Three Levels of Communication™:

  • Intellectual—employees understood what needed to happen and why.
  • Emotional—employees experienced and participated in events that inspired them.
  • Practical—employees knew how they could make a personal contribution.

“I’ve spoken to most of you in this room over the past month,” she said, facing all 500 of the plant’s employees during her first all-employee meeting. “You’ve told me that the way we’ve been doing business isn’t working anymore. That said, we all know that changing what we are used to doing on a daily basis is hard.”

Marie reached down and grabbed a pair of safety goggles. Slipping them on, she picked up an old ceramic jug and a hammer. Raising the jug high so that everyone could see, she smashed it.

The eyes of every person in that room were riveted on Marie.

“This jug will never be the same, no matter how hard we might try to put it back together the way it used to be. It’s been changed by outside forces. Just like us.”

Marie looked from one person in the room to another. “We cannot keep doing business the way we’ve done it in the past. Not if we want to be successful in today’s market. So, I challenge all of you. Help me create new ways to understand and serve our customers. I need your ideas, your insights, and your expertise.”

This is a true story. Marie launched her change that day with the metaphor of a broken jug. She went on and presented some facts and figures. Then, everyone broke into team meetings to talk about what was working and what was not working. Everyone understood they had just taken the first step, and that the work they needed to do was monumental and still before them. But, they were intrigued by this leader’s approach, and they were open to learning more about how they could participate.

Launching change is easy, but it takes a multi-faceted communication plan to ensure effective, measurable organizational change over time. If you haven’t had a chance yet, go to the sidebar next to this blog and download your free eBook: Launching Organizational Change. Learn about:

  • The Three Levels of Leadership Communication™.
  • How to avoid the three most common communication mistakes leaders make.
  • Five critical success factors to accelerate any organizational change.

Stay tuned for future blogs. Effective change requires showing—not just telling employees what needs to happen. A variety of communication techniques exist that will engage employees on an emotional level:

    1. Show a movie clip.
    2. Share a metaphor.
    3. Involve employees with exercises, games, or experiences.
    4. Tell stories.

Over the next few weeks, I will provide examples of movie clips you can use for specific purposes, a list of excellent metaphors, and a variety of exercises, games, and stories that you can use to help accelerate change in your organization. Next week, I’ll feature movie clips.

When you launch a change in your department or organization, how do you engage employees on all three levels of communication?

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Six Ways to Motivate Your Direct Reports

In this fast-paced world, providing positive employee feedback is more important than ever.

Two things captured my immediate attention about that email at 7:00 on a Friday morning. The first was the subject line, which simply read, “You!” The second was that the email was from my CEO who wrote:

Your excellent presentation at yesterday’s employee meeting is yet another example of the very positive contributions you are making. For only being with the company a few short months, the positive impact you’re making is evident on so many fronts.

Throughout this week I’ve heard numerous comments on the quality improvement in our marketing department along with comments on the excellent support many are receiving.

Glad you’re here!

From the subject to the closing, this leader was focused on talking with me, and I felt it. My face still turns pink with pleasure when I read these words. It’s the nicest email I ever received from an executive.

I’d already been committed to working hard for this new company, but those few good words went a long way toward making me feel that I was held in the highest value and that I belonged. This CEO was one of the best leaders I’ve ever worked with. Every employee in the company loved him because he genuinely cared what we thought, and he not only listened to our ideas–he acted on them.

The Greatest Gift
Leaders are busier than ever these days. It can be easy to forget to recognize employees or to think we are too busy to just stop by and sincerely say, “Hi, how’s it going,” close our lips, and listen. That can be the best gift of all—to just listen to the employees who report to us. To try to understand beyond our own narrow perspectives.

6 Ways to Connect with Direct Reports
Connecting with employees is about so much more than a rewards program. Most organizations have rewards programs. That’s the good news. The bad news is that unless communication happens on a regular basis and thanks are offered sincerely and in a way that’s meaningful to employees, the rewards program doesn’t matter. A program will not make one bit of difference to how employees feel about working at a company or for a particular leader. But sincere, timely communication can make all the difference. Always has. Always will.

Here are a few ways some excellent leaders I’ve known chose to communicate to their direct reports:

  • A daily habit: One leader parked at the opposite side of the building from his office in a Midwest Manufacturing company. Every morning and every evening he would stroll through the entire plant, stopping for a few minutes here and another few minutes there, just saying hello, speaking to people by name, asking them how things were going. He meant every word he said. He also picked up a lot from employees who were the experts about how to improve and grow the business.
  • Post-it® Notes and a bulletin board: A manager at a high tech company used post-it notes in the coffee room to publically praise and thank employees for a job well-done or a milestone reached. His informal and yet heart-felt messages landed with his direct reports in ways that made them feel truly appreciated. In addition, because the company was high tech, the old bulletin board method of communicating was special.
  • Lunch with employees: I’m not talking about the formal “lunches with leaders.” You know the ones I mean, where a rotating group is invited in to chat and chew with the head of the organization and spill their guts about how they feel. Well, we all know how well that works. What I’m talking about here, is when a leader chooses to go into the cafeteria and sit down at a table with a group of employees and just be part of the group. Now, it takes a few times, I’ll admit, before people are comfortable. I’ve had leaders tell me that they just don’t know what to say. Fact is? They don’t have to say much, and that’s the point. This technique works only when the leader asks permission to join a group, and when she is willing to share and listen. No need during these informal lunches to make any promises. It’s just lunch.
  • MBWA: We’ve all heard the old phrase, “management by walking around,” to the point where it’s become a cliché, unfortunately. But one of my favorite first-line leaders was from Kentucky, and he used to call it “management by wandering around” or when things were tough, “meandering through a mugwamp.” He made a point of wandering and meandering on a frequent basis. This technique works well when it’s sincerely done. In fact, just last week, I got a call from someone I know very well. She’d been really worried about a new vice president who was coming in to take over her group in a major financial organization. As it turned out, this new leader made a fantastic impression with her new staff, though, because she listened with genuine interest, sharing bits about her own life and value system, and then she listened some more. The person who called me had more energy and excitement about her job than I’d heard from her in years.
  • Special occasions: Another of my favorite leaders created a PowerPoint slide show about all the employees in her department, set it to music, and called a special recognition meeting. Some of her direct reports were shy about being recognized individually, and so she chose to thank all of them at the same time by using a variety of formal and informal photos—current and past. I heard the laughter that day erupting from the conference room as words of praise and accomplishment accompanied these fun photos. People talked about that slide show for a long time and about how it made them feel.
  • A hand-written note on a project: A leader in a human resources department wrote a note on a hot-off-the-press employee communication. Her note read, “What a captivating new format. This is brilliant! Thank you for your hard work.” I know for a fact that the people she sent it to still have that document with her scrawled thank you written across it. In our highly digital world, a hand-written note is a novelty.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of your time to say thank you, I care about you and the work you’re doing. But, it can make a huge difference in the level of connection you achieve.

How do you recognize your direct reports?

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Creative Communication: Every Leader Needs a TYSK

A TYSK is a short, easy-to-produce communication that’s fun, reinforces strategy, and motivates employees to respond.

When I worked at GE, every one of us knew that if Jack Welch came to visit and happened to stop one of us in the hallway and ask, “What’s your bottom line,” we’d better know the answer. As leaders, we knew that it was our job to be sure that Leadership Communication Toolsevery employee knew the facts about our competition, our strategy and goals, and our progress against those strategies and goals. We communicated these things in a number of ways, but employees told us that one of the most effective, simplest, and engaging communications was our TYSK. Now you might wonder, TYSK, what’s a TYSK? The acronym stands for Things You Should Know. We produced this brief eNewsletter once a week. The writing was concise and fun, and our TYSK consisted of just three parts:

  • 3-5 updates about our progress against key goals, always highlighting and giving credit to the people who were responsible.
  • A contest consisting of one question related to our strategy, a goal, or the competition. The first person who responded with the right answer was the winner. And yes, as corny as it may seem, there was a prize. A small prize, but people loved to go for it. Prizes ranged from a set of golf balls to a shirt or a coffee mug with our logo. The prize wasn’t the issue–competing to get the right answer in first was the point. By asking these questions, we reinforced key strategic messages every week.
  • The answer to the previous week’s question with the name of the winner, which also reinforced key messages about an element of our strategy, a goal, or the competition.

The reason our TYSK was successful in keeping everyone up to date was because it was short, it was fun, it involved people, and it reinforced important elements relating to our success. One of the biggest challenges leaders face these days is gaining employee mind share. In this digital world, people are deluged with thousands of messages every day. In order to gain some of that mindshare, leaders have to be creative. It has nothing to do with how smart people are or how committed they are. Gaining mindshare has to do with our ability as leaders to create compelling, memorable, and easy to digest communications. What creative communications have worked in your organization?

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Executive Approval in 60 Seconds

Apply the Three Levels of Leadership Communication™ when you want results—fast.

I met Janice, a copy center manager for a large corporation, a few years ago when I taught presentation skills at a local college. She was extremely nervous about an upcoming presentation she planned to deliver to request new equipment.

Her challenge was how to make her request urgent and real to a group of executives who:When you need to get leadership results--fast.

  • Scrutinized every request before approving a penny.
  • Took the services her team provided for granted.

As Janet planned her presentation, she applied the Three Levels of Leadership Communication™. She knew that she needed these leaders to understand that the main copy machine they relied upon for all of their copy needs was on its last legs. She knew that she wanted them to feel the same pain her staff was feeling as they tried to do their jobs in spite of the faulty machine. And, she knew exactly what she wanted them to do–approve her request on the spot–something that rarely, if ever happened.

On the day of her presentation, she walked to the front of the room and placed a small tape recorder on the table. She turned, faced the executives, and expressed appreciation for the opportunity to speak with them. Without saying another word, she pushed play. A loud, clanking, cajunking noise filled the room.

Janet stood there and waited. After about 5 seconds, the leaders started looking around the room at each other. The noise was unpleasant. Janet didn’t move. After another 10 seconds, the leaders started shifting in their seats. The noise was becoming unbearable. Janet reached over and punched the off button.

“This is what my team listens to eight hours every day, five days a week. It’s just a matter of time before our main copy machine is completely inoperable, and we are unable to meet your needs. I’m here today to ask you for the funds to replace the machine as soon as possible.”

The CEO asked her how much she needed. She told him. He turned to the group and asked if anyone disagreed that replacing this machine was a priority. No one did, and Janet got her capital request filled more quickly than anyone else in the history of the company.

The Three Levels of Leadership Communication™ model will help you get the results you want too. Contact me for your personal copy of the model. The process works on a micro level to get results with clients, senior leaders, peers, or direct reports and on a macro level to create organizational change.

What creative communication techniques have you used to get results? I’d love to hear about them!

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